Today we’re going to talk about how to find podcast influencers, specifically what an influencer is and things that you should consider when looking for guests for your podcast. We explain how the relationship should be mutually respectful and beneficial, and we also provide some pro tips on how to do your research in this regard.
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Finding The Perfect Podcast Influencers
Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into finding the perfect podcast influencer. This has been a topic that’s come up because I’ve been doing a lot of events and getting a lot of Q&A going after webinars and other things. I think this is a really important thing to understand, what defines an influencer, because there are different definitions of that and what really makes a perfect one for a podcast or a videocast. What makes a perfect one for you to use when you’re brandcasting? I really want to define that. It also came to mind because we have our wonderful podcast, the Influencers. Jon Levy, who is a fabulous behavioral scientist, his show is great. If you haven’t heard of it before, you should definitely listen to it.
We’re thinking about what defines an influencer. Arguably, you could say a celebrity is an influencer. Anybody who’s really very high profile in the media, whether that’s old school media, print, TV, radio or social media, somebody has a lot of exposure and gets a lot of light shine on them is probably an influencer. I’m going to argue that’s not the case if you want to power your site, if you want to power your podcast, if you want to get more business, big difference. Getting an audience or getting clicks or likes is very different than getting engagement and business. We want influencers that can lead us to more business.
I’m going to use an example from my Inc. column. February 2017, I interviewed John Travolta right before the Grammy’s at the City Gala event. His press people asked me to interview them because they wanted more bloggers, they wanted more people who wrote online columns to be interviewing because he had plenty of TV coverage, plenty of video coverage but not as much Google power. They wanted it. I thought, “Okay, great. I’ll interview him. It will actually serve my column well because they’ll do a really good job of pushing it out and sending out that he was featured here and that will draw more audience into me. Won’t that be great?”
That’s actually not what happened at all. In fact, it’s probably the worst circulated article that I’ve had all year. In other words, their press team did no job pushing that out. His audience probably never saw it. His followership probably never saw it based on the traffic that I can see that came from it. All that ended up happening for him was a really great backlink from Inc., which actually is worth something, but it didn’t do anything in terms of delivering traffic. Sometimes even a celebrity delivers you no traffic.
What we want to do is want influencers who are going to deliver you their audience so they’re going to be really great at pushing out your message. They’re going to be so excited about being on your show that they’re going to tell everybody. That’s the number one criteria that I have. Number two criteria is make sure that they’re going to put it into their website, because if you don’t have that true backlink going on then it hasn’t done you any value at all and that’s extremely powerful. That raises the overall Google value which means Google sent you more traffic. Even if John Travolta didn’t send me more traffic, Google should.
That’s really the trick though a lot of times. That’s why we use ego bait. We already did an episode on ego bait. You want to try to make it easy for an influencer to provide you that backlink or to send people to you and more importantly to provide it properly so it’s hitting the right pages that are going to give you the most equity value in it. Those are the two things. You want someone who’s going to actually share it. They’re good at sharing. That’s one of the criteria that I have. If somebody says, “I would like to be a guest on your podcast,” most importantly if a PR firm proposes somebody to me, I check them out because just because they hired a PR firm, it doesn’t mean they’re any better at this. I have seen PR firms who do a worst job of pushing out the messages. Their only goal is to get the Inc. masthead associated with their client, not do any jobs at promoting.
If they’re really looking to get more out of you, more benefit from you in terms of if you have a logo that they’re interested in or you have an association that they’re interested in, your show’s a value, you want to make sure that they’re going to be a value to you. Do they have a history of pushing out other things, other interviews that they have done on other people’s shows, channels, blogs, whatever? Do they have a history of putting that out there? That will give you a pretty good indication if they’re going to be beneficial to you.
Over the years that I’ve been writing my column and that we’ve been doing the podcast, I have seen that less than probably 10% of the PR firms, or even independent PR agents who come and propose people to us, do a good job at this. I don’t do repeats when I see that happen from them. I will give them a try the first time around and say, “This is my expectation for how you’re going to share it,” and I push that out to them. I find that when individuals contact me directly, they’re much more grateful for the exposure and they do a much better job of sharing. I think PR firms in general are just trying to check boxes off on a list of things that they need to try to accomplish for their clients. Follow-up after the exposure has happened is one of the lowest things on their list. Honestly, they’re busy people and I think there’s just an inherent laziness that happens, “I got the PR. I don’t need to do this detailed follow-up
Checking out to see how often they share things, how many times they repeat the share. Sometimes I’ll go through their entire feed, pull through and see are they repeating it on a monthly basis? Are they re-sharing again? That’s really important too. Are they pushing it out into all their social media channels? Are they doing more than that? Do they have a newsletter that they’re pushing it out into as well? All of those things are things that I either check or ask questions about before I agree if somebody has come to us. It’s very different when we seek guests out. We have a different criteria for who we seek out. That’s what happens when someone comes and asks us.
That’s my definition of influencer. They’re very good at sharing out information and getting their audience to engage back. That engagement is also a measure as well. The people who they’ve shared it out to, are they commenting and then re-sharing? If they’re just liking, that’s not good enough. What’s the quality of their followers, of their audience like? Are they active and participating? Or are they just lookie-loos and they’re watching it? They’ll like it, but that doesn’t mean they’re taking any kind of action.
Actually, if you’re checking through your Facebook post, here’s a little pro tip. If somebody is hitting the heart button, the smiley face button, the crying button, it doesn’t matter, whatever, anything but the thumbs up like button, you get more value for that from Facebook. Isn’t that also true that there are certain automated things that can happen to like something but if you’re going to actually push the like button and hold it and then go over and choose one of the others, that is a real person who’s doing that. It’s a sign of higher engagement. When you have lots of those on a page as well, those actually get you more circulation on Facebook and all of those. If they have engagement there, I watch that as well, so it’s not just comments. If they have a lot of those hearts and other things going on, then that’s worth considering as well. Especially shares, shares are even more valuable because now you’re getting out to even a second or a third level of people that you would not otherwise touch. Those are always good signs of that.
Obviously, putting it into their website, making sure that they do update their press page on their website and those kinds of things on a frequent basis, so I go and check on how old that is and how they’re doing that and when was the last time an article was updated there. From there, really deciding whether an influencer is really a good match for your podcast. A good match to bring you more business is really understanding better their audience. Sometimes that’s taking a little time to read their site, to read who they are and what they’re about. Is there a good match between your audience and their audience? Is there synergy there? It’s great to have someone high profile. Wouldn’t we all just love to have a celebrity on our show? But it’s a temporary spike if that audience doesn’t stick with you pass it. We want to make sure that we’re really spending our time interviewing people of high value who are going to give back a lot to our audience and at the same time bring us people who could use us, people who we can add value to.
It really does take doing a little homework. Finding the perfect podcast influencer requires research. There are a couple of different agencies or companies that we know of that you can hire to find guests to book on your show. Tracy has more experience with that. Actually, we’re going to have an upcoming episode, we’re going to have Jennifer Spencer come on. Energent Media is the name of her company. She places guests on podcasts. She’ll help you research the right shows to be a guest on. A good tip as a podcast host is to share audiences with other podcasters. A podcast listener is a podcast listener and podcast listeners tend to listen to five or six shows, that’s their average, and they’ll drop some and they’ll pick up a new one. Wouldn’t it be great if they picked up yours because they’ve outgrown the last one and now they’re ready for yours?
Guesting on other podcasts, as long as you’re not stealing their audience because they’ll be hesitant to have you on as a guest, but as long as you’re adding value to their audience, there might be a subset of their audience who has an interest in your podcast, you’re really sharing that. These agencies certainly can get you booked as a guest on their podcast but they’ll also find guests to book on your podcast if you want to hire them to do that. It goes both directions. Most of them do they do this level of research that we’re talking about in terms of the shares or how active they’re going to be, how good a guest by our criteria.
We’ll talk further depth about how Jennifer handles that. What I really like about Jennifer is she’s looking at it from a more adding value to your business bottom line. It’s not just about press. I think that’s a really different viewpoint. If it doesn’t serve you and doesn’t serve them, whoever your guest might be, whoever the influencer might be, no one benefits in that process. That’s not good for anyone. Having that collaboration influencer model is really important.
I want to touch on one other thing that I think happens too often. We forget to treat our partners, our joint ventures, our affiliates, whatever you want to call them, our subcontractors, all of those kinds of people that you work with and do things for, and it might be your network within your network. We forget to treat them with the respect of being influencers. That is a mistake. You want to make sure that you’re going out there and pushing out and respecting the relationship. In other words, if we aren’t willing to step out there and say, “We’re associated with so and so organization and we’d really like to have the CEO of that or the local chapter president come on the show,” if you’re not willing to do that and associate yourself with that organization, then it really is categorically unfair for you to be going and mining people from that organization. It needs to be a two-way street.
We’ve recently done this. We’re weeding out our network. We’ve been talking about that a lot. For some people, it’s like an ROI thing. You look and say, “How much money that I spend going to these kinds of conferences with these kinds of people and was it worth the dollar value for us?” We don’t look at that because there’s a lot of intangibles, a lot of people who know people who know people that you meet, or things that happen along the way. We believe in that intangible value. You’ve got a whole lot of business from someone that you’ve met and you wouldn’t have met them had you not gone to that conference. It was two or three steps removed from it and many months removed from it but definitely you could trace it back to that. It would never have happened if you were not there. In terms of direct results of business that came out of attending the conference itself, a lot of times, there might be zero.
We have an organization that we absolutely love. There is no direct correlation to our business on a daily basis but it’s coming up in LA, Digital Footprint. We love the team that backs that up there. They have 800 plus revenue generating websites that they run. We learn so much from them all the time. The team is just amazingly fantastic, but the reality is we’ve never once gotten a customer from attending the event. We probably never will. That doesn’t bother me though because I know that the relationship value is high. The tangible benefits we’ve gotten from being associated with that organization and all the people we’ve met, they’ve been very real and significant. It’s definitely worth it. But it’s indirect. It’s direct business we’ve gotten from them or from people we’ve met there.
What we’ve started to do though is to define at a different level. After a certain time of being involved with an organization, they’ve gotten to know you and they’re promoting you and they’re telling everyone, “Tom and Tracy are the brandcasting experts,” and things like that. When we really go back and we push to the organization and said, “You’re going to start a podcast, let us help you do that.” Then they either get too cheap and don’t do it or don’t call us at all and think that they can do it themselves from the courses that we taught for them. That’s where we have a problem. Now, we don’t have a respectful mutual relationship. We don’t have a collaboration.
If we’re not willing to use our resources and use our affiliates, then we won’t feature them. We feature only people we’re willing to use ourselves. That’s this new definition that we decided because we want it to be a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship. It’s, are your partners actually influencers themselves? Or are they helping to influence others about you and your business? It becomes a real partner to me and is a very valuable influential relationship you have to consider.
We’ve seen a lot of people who think what we do is excellent. They refer other people to us. There is a big difference between those that use us to produce their shows or those that don’t. We’re not being conceited about it. We want you to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, and be a partner with us. That’s our definition of an influencer. Someone who’s going to do what they say they’re going to do, who are influencing the same way we are. We want that to all have collaboration because that adds higher value to our audience. That’s our definition of influencers.
They might be influencing on a very micro level, like Jennifer Spencer. She’s influencing on guest-getting level, very small, narrow area. But if I wasn’t willing to use her or I haven’t used her in the past, then what does that say about our relationship? It would be disingenuous really. The reality is we recommend people that we use and we’re going to let you know if they are people that we’ve used. If we’re just interviewing somebody we think is a great guest you’d want to hear about but we haven’t used them, we’re going to let you know that as well. We look at that overall as the litmus test.
Thinking about these podcast influencers that you want to reach and all of that, I think that’s where you start with. You start with your partners. You start with the people you’ve done business with before and you start looking for them because there has to be a very likely synergy between their audience and what they need next. For instance, in the private label podcast world. A couple of years ago I went on about eight different podcasts with Amazon sellers that were focused on how to sell on Amazon or that kind of thing. I came on and spoke on designing products; very different than the selling process and all that. It was very complimentary. An easy association between their audience and what they were selling and my audience that I was looking to find out information from and about and maybe get it some exposure with, there was a really nice match.
I was able to give a lot on the interview and never made a pitch at all. I didn’t ask for anything in the end because that wasn’t the purpose. It was more of, “Will this connection work and is it beneficial?” It was sort of a research project. At the end of the day though, nine months later, I traced back $120,000 worth of business that came from people who heard me on those podcasts because it was such a perfect right fit between what the audience that host had garnered and the services that we provide were supplemental to that.
After that, we’ve gone a little bit deeper and I did a webinar with one of the hosts. Now, we’re looking at an even deeper partnership with all of these hosts. What happens is that we’re just adding tremendous value. Why shouldn’t the host receive some equity for that for having garnered them in the first place? That’s the point we really want to make sure is clear to the Feed Your Brand audience, that as we’ve gone forward to build and grow those relationships more, we have created programs where we can benefit and get business from their audience but the host is going to directly benefit monetarily from any business that comes from their audience as well. It really is mutually beneficial.
That’s another model of influencers. You’re going to have those who are just looking to get more show credits, more press on their press page. There are also those that are looking to have kickbacks, affiliations, percentage share splits. Whatever those are, it’s not selling out your audience if it’s a right fit for your audience. The audience can still skip you. They can still Google someone and look around you and go straight to their link if they want to. If you’ve added value to them, your audience will instead go to the website, clicking the link, knowing that you’re getting money for that, knowing that it’s supporting your podcast is supporting the value you added for them. They know the difference. You don’t have to hide that. You can be very clear about it, “This isn’t an affiliate link. Our show is receiving benefits and sponsorship from this link. If you click it, we’d like you to, we’re not making you,” they can skip it again, they can go straight to the website.
Most often, we find that listeners of a podcast who really like the podcast, they like the host/s, they like the content that’s being brought to them, the things they’re learning and being edutained in general, they’re going to be more likely to actually accept and partake of some of those things that are offered to them because they want to support the show. Maybe they’re not paying for the show to listen to it on a regular basis but maybe they’re giving a little business to someone who is either sponsoring the show or is offering something over the show. They’re more inclined to do that.
You don’t have to offer big things. You could just make links like book links. If your guest is an author, you can make an affiliate book link with Amazon. It helps the author sell more books on Amazon. They’re always eager to do that. It doesn’t take anything away from a cut from that author because Amazon pays you the 4%. Audiences know that; they’re smart, they’re savvy, they’re digital marketers a lot themselves. They understand that and they’re willing to give you credit if you serve them.
Thinking about that influencer as a bigger thing for everyone to create more business together, collaborate to make business together, that’s our definition of the right kind of influencer. But again, targeted specifically with the right audience match and fit, so the audience really benefits from the value from what they listen to and what they hear from that guest and the audience can benefit if they use their services as well so then you benefit back in terms of monetary or business transactions that go on there. We wanted to go both ways.
We really talked about a couple of different levels of influencers on the show. Some are just, are you getting the right guest who is an influencer outside of what you’re doing and just within their own world are they an influencer? Then different levels all the way getting up to partners that you might work with who are influencing their audience on your behalf and you’re influencing your audience on their behalf. It becomes this mutual sustainable effort.
There’s one more level you can do. We don’t recommend you do it every week or something like that. It’s good every now and then maybe once a month to throw in a client influencer or a user influencer; someone who has used your services, someone who has used your program, someone who works through that. What happens is a lot of times we’re sitting up here going, “We do this and you can do this too.” It sounds great but we’re maybe a year ahead of where you’re going to ever be. What about if you hear from someone who’s a couple of months ahead of where you are? It helps you visualize as the listener, “I could really get there.”
I do not recommend you make it all testimonial. I think that’s terrible. I think that’s not a good use of it. When someone can say, “I envision myself in that person’s position and I can really see how I could be helped from your services or from listening to this podcast again and again and again. Now, I’ve really come a long way.” That’s the best way to use clients or associates in that process, which is a different kind of relationship and partnership of sorts. You’re helping maybe get some exposure for your client. They’re actually giving you a little bit of a testimonial or you’re showing your audience the value that they’ve received.
We see this a lot with high level, especially entrepreneurial thought leaders because they all associate with high level thought leaders. You get into that world and I talk myself out, they’re like, “Why aren’t people coming back and buying my courses? I have very reasonably priced courses.” They’re talking themselves out of it because they think that’s really unattainable. This is just inspiration and not something that is doable today. That’s really where we get into this situation in which we want to make sure that you’re giving them something where they can visualize themselves in that place, not someone who’s so far light years ahead of where they are right now and today. That’s when it can be really useful to use someone like that.
We hope you enjoyed this conversation about how to find the perfect podcast influencers and really what different types of influencers you might be looking for considering as you go through your journey in this new media. As always, you can find all the information on BrandcastingYou.com or FeedYourBrand.co in the app. You can also find us on social media, @FeedYourBrand. Thanks for listening. We will be back next week with another great episode. This has been Tom and Tracy on Feed Your Brand.