How to Find Influencers Who Already Want to Share and Link to Your Content

Your post isn’t 100% original. No one’s is.

Other people in your niche write similar posts, and some of them probably get a lot more traffic than yours.

Why is that?

It’s disheartening to see someone else’s post (that isn’t nearly as good as yours) get a lot more traffic, especially if you put a lot of time and hard work into it.

It’s not your fault. It’s hard to get the same kind of exposure as someone who has a lot of influencers sharing their content. Here’s what happens when influencers like Francisco Rosales or Chris Brogan share your posts:

influencer share power

Yes, they were able to send almost 400 readers by just tweeting about something. There’s no way you’re going to be able to compete with the combined impact of influencers like these on your own.

Let’s change that.

Let’s get some influencers to share your posts as well. The best way to do this is by finding people who already shared something similar.

Think about it. If you just shared a post on “Why You Should Still Be on Team Walt,” wouldn’t you be likely to share another post on Breaking Bad?

In other words, you just have to get your post in front of someone who’s already shared something like it before. Here’s how you do it.

Step 1. Find Similar Content with a Lot of Reach

Say you find someone who previously liked a post on “how to get blog traffic” without SEO. Chances are they’ll probably like your post on “getting search traffic without building backlinks” as well (if it’s good).

So, first, you need to find and make a list of posts that are similar to yours. Similar doesn’t mean exactly alike. As in the example above, there just has to be some commonality.

People who liked the post on not doing SEO probably don’t like the link building aspect of it. So, a post on getting some of the benefits of SEO without building links will resonate with them.

Let’s break this process of finding good posts similar to yours into a few parts.

Part 1. Find Trending Posts with Realtime

real-time discovery search engine

Realtime is a real-time discovery search engine by Bitly. Realtime tracks all the clicks that are going through the URL shortener and displays the links that are being clicked on the most at any given time.

This makes it a powerful tool because you can sort by actual traffic and find the most trending posts in your niche in real time.

Go to Rt.ly and sign up by connecting with your Bitly or Twitter account. It’ll ask you for your email address. Once you provide it, you’ll be taken to the page that will show you the most trending posts:

Realtime Most Trending

Enter the topic of your post in the keywords section:

Realtime Keyword

Click on any topic and narrow down the search results to your niche:

Realtime Topic

This will give you a list of all related posts ordered by number of clicks per minute. This works really well for broader topics and larger niches. It’s hard to find trending articles in micro niches or on a very unique topic.

Part 2. Take a Look at Famous Blogs in Your Niche

Famous blogs in your niche have been around for a while. Chances are some of them covered similar topics. I’m sure every social media blog out there has good posts on how to get more retweets.

You don’t need to get too complicated here. Keep it simple. Go to Google and search for your post topic and the name of the blog. For example, write viral headlines copyblogger. This will lead you to some pretty famous posts on writing killer headlines.

If you really want to, you can use this syntax: phrase site:famousblog.com, but there’s no real need.

Part 3. Use Topsy to Find Older, Popular Posts

Topsy is my go-to tool for finding popular posts on any topic. It analyzes its index of hundreds of billions of tweets and gives you the most popular and relevant tweets. Because it directly searches through tweets, it’s very effective at finding posts that have received a lot of shares.

Here’s what you do if you’re trying to find posts similar to your epic post on SlideShare traffic. Go to Topsy and type in a related term in the search bar. In this case, it would be something like guide to slideshare.

Topsy

This will take you to a page that displays all tweets that are related to this term. You want to see every post that has ever been written on this topic to find the most shared ones. So, change the time restraint on the left side of the page to all time.

Topsy Time

This will take you to a page with the most popular posts on this topic. Look for tweets with a huge number next to the conversation bubble. This shows how popular that particular link was on Twitter.

Topsy Popular

Look at that! You just found an extremely popular guide to SlideShare on KISSmetrics.

You can bet that the people who shared this post on KISSmetrics would be interested in a case study on SlideShare traffic.

Part 4. Use Seogadget’s Content Strategy Generator Tool

The Content Strategy Generator Tool (CSGT) by Daniel Butler of SEOgadget was made to minimize the time it takes to generate ideas for new content. But it can be used for a lot more than that.

CSGT allows you to search for content related to any phrase on a massive list of news sites, social media sites, content aggregators, and Q and A sites. Here’s what that list includes:

  • News and Discussion sites – Google Discussions, Google News, Bing News
  • Social Media – Digg, Reddit, YouTube, Topsy Latest Tweets, Topsy Latest Top Trending Tweets, Twittorati Search, All Things Now
  • Q and A sites – Yahoo Answers, Wiki Answers, How Stuff Works
  • Content Aggregators – Blog Catalog, Fark, Redux, Helium, Cracked

This will give you a huge list of content that’s similar to yours and save you a ton of time. It then breaks down all the information into different sections by title, by who and time published, and description.

When you get the tool, it’ll be in view only mode.

Content Idea Generator

You need to be able to edit the file to search for your own phrases. Go to File > Make a Copy to make your own version of this that you can edit.

CSGT3

After you make a copy you can edit, enter the topic of your post in cell B3. Results from some sites (Yahoo Answers, Google discussions, etc.) aren’t going to help us out much.

When you do find an article that’s similar, Google it. Sadly, this tool doesn’t give you a link to the article. You’re going to have to find it manually.

Part 5. Use GroupHigh to Make Your Life Easier

GroupHigh speeds up the search by allowing you to easily search and sort through 13 million active blogs.

Go to GroupHigh and request a demo. It’ll make your life easier and serve up a lot of relevant posts. Once you’re in, go to the search function on the top bar and search for the general topic of the blogs that might write similar posts.

GroupHigh Search

The search will give you two lists. One for all the blogs that have mentioned your topic and another for all the blogs that are centered around that topic. Stick to those that have mentioned it. There’s no need for the other list right now.

All the blogs here have been active in the last six months and have a MozRank of at least 2. You can change the filter settings to display only blogs with a higher MozRank, but there’s no real need. Search through the posts of these blogs by using the search bar under “post content” on the left.

GroupHigh PostSearch

This should give you an extensive list of posts similar to yours. Star the blogs with posts that closely resemble yours. This will add them to a list, which you can go back to later and sort by influence of the blogger on social media. You also can take a look at their contact information, which will come in handy later.

Here are some posts you’ll get in a few minutes of looking for SEO mistakes or SEO advice:

This barely scratches the surface of what GroupHigh can do; but for now, for our purposes, this is all we need.

Step 2. Find Who’s Sharing These Posts with Bitly

It’s time to dig into who likes to share this kind of content. Look for relevant influencers who can send traffic to your particular post. Here’s how you do it.

Take the first post on your list and go to Bitly and shorten the URL. Paste the link in the bar where it says “Paste a link here…” in the top right corner of the page.

bitly Url

You will get a popup that gives you your shortened URL. Click the “View Stats” link in this popup.

bitly Viewstats

This will take you to the page that shows all the traffic this post received through bitly links. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. This will show you who shared this post and how well their audience responded.

Here’s how it looks for Aaron Lee’s post on doing a proper follow Friday on Twitter.

bitly Shared by

You can see that the first three alone were able to send almost 200 readers to the post (a very tiny portion of this post’s overall traffic). Now, let’s find out how these people were able to send this traffic so you can see if it’s worth contacting them or not.

Click on the number under a name. This will take you to stats that break down how they sent this traffic:

bitly Stats Breakdown

Take a look at how much of the traffic is coming from social media. If most of the traffic is coming from “other,” move on to the next person. This means they sent this traffic by linking, emailing their subscribers, or some other means. You’ll have a hard time getting people to do the same for you.

Most people who like your post generally will tweet it or like it on Facebook. You can see that the person above is a good influencer to connect with for this post because she was able to send 44 visitors from just Twitter alone.

Make a list of people who sent a lot of traffic to these posts and the title of the post they sent the traffic to. This will be useful when you’re reaching out to them. Also, make a note if this was their own post.

The only thing left to do is find out how to get in touch with these people so they can do the same for you. Click on their name to go to a page with their Twitter handles and Facebook pages.

Once you’re there, you can follow through from their Twitter or Facebook pages to their blogs or about me pages. This generally will lead to their email addresses.

Step 3. Get These People to Share Your Post

This is the fun part. Now, your goal is to reach out to these people and get them to share your post in some way.

Gregory Ciotti wrote about a case study he did on Moz, where he reached out to bloggers to get them to share his infographic. He took a look at people who he had some contact with. This doesn’t mean a deep friendship. He just took a look at people he got a reply from once on a tweet or a comment.

He then reached out to these influencers to get them to share his infographic. When he compared the response rate of people he had no contact with to the response rate of people he had minimal contact with, this is what he got:

So, be sure to get in touch with people before you email them. The easiest way to do this is to leave a comment if they have a blog. Most of them will reply. Having some form of previous contact helped me get my posts shared by heavy influencers like Kristi Hines and Ann Smarty.

First, you need to reach out to bloggers who wrote about something similar to your post, and send them an email. (We’ll get to people who simply shared the posts later.)

Keep these emails as short as possible, and give the blogger a reason to share the post. The reason should be simple, such as: it answers a question they asked in the post, it makes the same argument as their post, it adds something they might’ve missed, etc.

It should look a little like this:

Outreach Email

For my post on getting traffic, I emailed 21 bloggers, and 7 responded with quick emails like this:

Outreach Reply

I’ve even received 2 emails like this, and I wasn’t even looking for a link:

This was all with no previous contact. I have to give most of the credit to the shortness of the emails.

I read about a study on Unbounce that showed reminding people of their choice increased conversions. I wanted to see how well this applied to emails. So, I tested it out by adding this sentence at the end of the email: “I’m sure you’re busy, and of course, it’s your call, but I’d love to hear what you think.

(Side note: I also added one more sentence at the beginning of the email that talked about what I thought of their post.)

This completely backfired. Out of the 30 emails I sent for my most recent post, only 6 replied. Out of those 6 people, only 2 people were kind enough to share my post. One of the bloggers who ended up linking to my post sent me an email saying that, at first, she thought this long email was spam.

So cut down the length of your email ruthlessly. Even adding a couple of lines to your email will make it seem like spam and cut down replies.

Brian Dean at Backlinko wrote about a case study where Richard Marriot wrote to 115 influencers and got 47 replies. Dean attributes a big part of the 41% response rate to the fact that those emails were only 67 words long.

Keep your emails short. You’ll save time and get better results.

Now, you need an email to send to all those people who shared a post similar to yours. There are two ways you can approach this. The first way is to shoot them an email like this:

Hey Name,

I noticed that you shared a post by BloggerName on Twitter about “Title.”
I have a similar post on “Title” that also argues that “argument.”

Here’s the post: [Link to post]

Just thought I’d let you know.
- Your Name

The second way is to send an email like this:

Hey Name,

I noticed that you shared a post by Bob on Twitter about “Title.”
I have a similar post that Bob just shared on “Title.”

Here’s the post: [Link to post]

Just thought you might enjoy this post as well.
- Your Name

Obviously, this works only if “Bob” decides to share your post. This is why you contacted the people who wrote the posts first. If any of them decide to share, you can use the second version of the email.

This works so well because the person’s going to bother checking you out when they hear you’re connected to the influencer. This shows them your post is credible and you’re not some spammer.

Think about it. Wouldn’t you be much more likely to share if you have a mutual friend? Or what if someone you respect shared it already? Save these emails for last and email the bloggers first.

That’s it! You just got your post shared and linked to by a ton of influential people. Now, this post took a lot of time to write, so if you found it helpful do me a favor and share it with a friend.

So, how do you get influencers to share your post?

About the Author: Mark Trueman blogs at ZenSpill about growth hacking your blog. Check out the resources page to find out how he increased his search traffic by 2.87 times by using a tool used by HTC, Sound Cloud and Four Square.

  1. What an incredible post!! Thanks Mark. I really loved the way you described each & every step to get your content shared by an influencer. Still, for a person its a long way to get their content shared by Chris Brogan or any other big celebrity. I understand that if not chris, the person who shares similar interest might share your content. Absolutely loved your email post on asking to share the link. It is similar to outreach. I’ll definitely try your method. BTW, thanks for the bitly tool.

    • Hey Hyderali,

      Thanks, glad you liked the post :) Yup it’s a bit harder to get your content shared by big celebrities but you’d be surprised by how many times even they respond to emails like these. This how I connected with some pretty influential people

      Haha np.

      • hey Mark

        I like your post because it comes from personal experience. Those links/tools and email templates are very helpful, thank you!
        .
        What I love about the web is that almost everything is open for the smart entrepreneur to reverse engineer. No rock science, isn’t it? :)

  2. “You’re” [sic] post needs a copy edit : ] It’s easier to cultivate authority in content marketing when your content is free of grammatical errors!

    • haha agreed. That was just a dumb mistake. Can’t believe I did that..

    • Maybe you’re just being playful here JFS, but it seems like you’re trolling. You may not have realized it, but you’re actually committing a logical fallacy as well, the genetic fallacy. The content in this post is top notch … and that’s what this post should be judged on. A typo on the other hand, is no basis upon which to judge his expertise nor the quality of the post.

      This also reminds me of a quote from David Ogilvy, a fellow who knew a little bit about copywriting: “I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.” Here he’s talking about the use of conversational language, which doesn’t seem to relate to Mark’s little grammatical blip, which I’ve also made in the heat of the moment. But when you look a little deeper to why Ogilvy didn’t care to learn the rules of grammar it matters for what you said to Mark. It’s because content > grammar.

      At the end of the day, this post is outstanding. I have a few takeaways, and can check off my skill improvement for the day (not that I’m going to stop learning).

  3. Yeah! This is a really great, actionable post. Good work Mark!

  4. Does this type of tactic work to promote content that is gated? Say you want someone to fill out their name/email to gain access to some sort of premium content. How do you get someone to share this?

    • Hey Steve,

      I’d say it’d be pretty ineffective for directly getting people to share gated content. You can still reach out to people and give them access first (free account if it’s a product or a service) and if they like it, a lot of them will share it. It’d be very effective to reach out to people who’ve covered similar products or services and offer them free trials.

      Otherwise, if it’s not a product or service you can use this to promote your non gated content (or non gated portion of your content), which’ll help get more people to your premium stuff.

      Hope that helps :)

      - Mark T.

  5. I learn so much from you Neil. Thank you. This topic in particular, the social aspects, especially how to connect with influencers in a mutually happy way is something I am quite curious about.

  6. Great post, Mark! Very informative and actionable.

  7. Hi Mark
    Great post. Thanks for sharing your experience. I now feel like playing around with these tools and see how it goes ;)

  8. Fantastic post! I’ve been wondering about this a lot lately as I’ve been growing my new business.

    I just might be emailing you soon ;)

  9. Hi Mark
    Thank for this great post
    I’ll use these tool to help my blogging job grow up.

  10. Awesome and very practical resources, Mark – it only makes sense to generate the kind of content you KNOW is being shared and liked by your potential readers.

    Didn’t know about a couple of them (like SEOGadget one); off the check them out; thanks!

  11. An awesome post, Mark! Thanks for the very detailed, step-by-step post to help us find the influencers. This is an excellent resource next time I am doing some blogger outreach.

  12. Mark, great post! Lots of work to do…

  13. Steve Anderson Oct 02, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    It seems that bit.ly is not showing who shared the link that I chose. Did they change something since your post? Has anyone else had this issue?

    • Hey Steve,

      There can be a couple of reasons why it’s not showing who shared a post.

      1. No one who shared the post actually used bitly (which isn’t really an issue in my experience with most links. Any mildly popular post will get people who use bitly.)

      2. The post didn’t get significant traffic from any registered user. Most people who shared the post used bitly anonymously. So they just didn’t make an account to shorten the link.

      Hope that helps :)

      - Mark T.

  14. I have just bookmarked all the sites you have mentioned. very useful resources
    Thanks alot

  15. These are some really great tips for getting your content discovered. Having influencers on your side is part of the game, no doubt about that.

  16. Hey Mark,

    This post came up at the right spot when I was searching for “finding content influencers”, heh.

    I like the depth and comprehensiveness and its usefulness. And I thought it should be shared more often. Hence I’ve chucked it onto my Scoop.it, G+ and Twitter.

    Hopefully, it’ll bring more folks to this post. (Y)

  17. Thank you Mark for sharing your experience with us.
    I found some of your suggestions really inspiring.
    Gil

  18. Hey Mark,

    All I have to say is bookmarked, saved and emailed to self LOL… this is a great strategy I tell you!

    the only site I heard of from your list is Topsy, and when I found out about it, I thought I found the promise land. Now your telling me there’s more sites similar to this? I’ll definitely have to check them out, but realtime really caught my eye!

    Thanks for sharing!

  19. You have talked of tools that I have not heard of before and I enjoy researching tools and resources partly just because they are there but also so that I can advise others on the best methods to use for business and blogging.

  20. You usually don’t see very many guest posts on Neil’s blog but when they come along, they are just superlative.

    Just had to tell you Mark that the tactics that you apply are mindblowing. I too wish am hoping to emulate some of the tactics that you just mentioned for a product promotion and I am glad to have found this piece.

    Thanks once again and you rock!

  21. Hi ,
    I am not able to edit “Content Strategy Generator Tool” any suggestions ??

    Thanks/Manu

  22. This is exactly what I was looking for, just hadn’t managed to piece it all together. Thanks for your handwork!

  23. Great post Mark. Very helpful and indpiring. I really needed it. Thank you :D

  24. Hey Mark: I must be living under a rock because I did not know about any of these tools. They are very cool and cannot wait to try them. Thanks for this post and the new tools to try..

  25. Nice post, Influencers have the ability to help your brand reach its audience in a personal, honest way that doesn’t take a huge bite out of your budget. it’s up to you to build a relationship with them through engagement, support, and conversation.

  26. Great Post. These new tools are really helpful for me and also all these stuff are great traffic generation methods. Thank u.

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