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No Celebrities Required: How to Create Great Influencer Content


While the Content Marketing Institute doesn’t have that Kardashian/soda brand relationship or actor/automobile manufacturer combo, we use influencers to create an e-book to market Content Marketing World.

While you may not be promoting a live event, you likely can learn more about how to create an influencer-based piece of content from the lessons we’ve learned producing this e-book over the years, including the 2018 Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing.

Take a look:

Do the preliminary work

Before you begin the creative, ask yourself (or the agency if you’re working with a partner like we did with TopRank Marketing):

  • What are our goals for this influencer content?
  • What metrics will we evaluate, and at what frequency?
  • Is the investment reasonable?
Before you pick influencers, pick your goal for the #content & the metrics to be evaluated. @cmcphillips Share on X

Working with TopRank, we decided our influencer piece – an e-book – would help generate awareness of the event. The metrics included views, downloads, and shares. However, ultimately the goal is event registration so we also tracked conversions from promotions as well as from any influencers.

TIP: If you opt not to create the influencer content on your own, properly vet an influencer marketing partner. Look at similar projects they’ve done. Make sure they concur with your goals and metrics. Get the commitment detailed in a written contract.

Build a timeline

The influencer e-book project was managed with several calendars and charts.

The calendar detailed weekly conference calls or check-in meetings. At the beginning, the meetings were longer and more in-depth to solidify many of the concepts. As the weeks continued, many of the calls were short to simply check in. It was important to talk regularly, as results led to shifting focuses or other decision-making needs crept up.

We also created a Gantt chart to illustrate what needed to be done each week (or day), who was responsible, and what would be delayed if tasks weren’t complete. This chart included everything from concept ideation to analytics and evaluation, so everything stays on track.

You can use project management tools if you’re comfortable with them. We just used Google Sheets to track the schedules and charts, and Google Docs to review, edit, and approve copy for the project.


Select influencers

The influencer should provide value to your audience in a way that your team can’t. Their reach and network should be different from yours to extend your reach. Make sure they’re the right fit – they believe in your product or service – or the disconnect will show in the messaging. We also made sure our influencers could deliver our goals for this content.

Influencers should provide value to your audience in a way you can’t, says @cmcphillips. Share on X

Picking among many potential influencers can be a daunting task but technology can help. Our partner offered predictive analysis for influencer discovery. But we didn’t stop there. We reviewed the list manually to see who would make the most sense to include. Then, through other research and anecdotal information, the list was fine-tuned even more. Here are some questions we considered:

  • Are they known in the industry? We had to include some industry leaders. If we didn’t have Joe Pulizzi, Michael Brenner, or Ann Handley in an e-book about Content Marketing World, the content would be incomplete. That said, we didn’t want an e-book of all the same names and faces year after year. We looked for fresh speakers with new ideas, and those who show an excitement to be part of the event.
  • Do they have a network outside of ours? Though the content marketing community is small, it was still important for the selected influencers to attract an audience that we couldn’t. Given the insular community, we also needed to balance reach and frequency.
  • Will they share our excitement? This conference e-book has become an annual tradition as well as an honor for many of the influencers. We’ve received thank you notes from influencers who contributed because they’re thrilled to be included. To evaluate their potential excitement about our content, we asked: Are they active on social media? Will they share the e-book?
  • Does the group represent our audience? A diverse list of influencers is essential because our community is made up of every race, religion, and gender from all over the world. The input from diverse influencers ensures content with various viewpoints to meet the audience’s needs.
  • Have we had success with the influencers? If the influencers have been powerhouses in previous years – shared our content in their newsletters, on social media, in their blog, or in speeches at other events – you bet they’re back on the list for the next e-book. Conversely, if the best influencer with the best advice can’t dedicate time to helping, that’s OK. But don’t burn that bridge; explain why you’re going in a different direction.
A diverse list of influencers is essential to ensure #content w/ various viewpoints, says @cmcphillips. Share on X

Invite influencers

Rather than just asking for help, give influencers a reason why their participation will benefit them. Among the reasons we shared:

  • Exposure as a marketer/speaker/industry leader. The content gives influencers a platform to show off their smarts, their personality, and their session at our event.
  • Links to their blog, book, project, social channels, etc.
  • Expanded reach to a new audience.
  • Opportunity to be in the same content as other prominent faces.
  • Exclusivity. We have over 250 speakers at Content Marketing World but included less than 50 in the e-book.

TIP: Track influencer invitations on a spreadsheet. Include the name, date asked to participate, response, confirmation of content contribution receipt, etc. Include as many details as possible given these projects often involve many hands. Information sharing is critical.

Get what you need from influencers

Determine how you will get the content from the influencers. We asked influencers to answer a series of questions, and send their Twitter handle, website link, and a photo. We had to be extremely specific in the ask:

  • Please answer ALL the questions.
  • Do not exceed 50 words per question.
  • The website link should go to a company website or blog.
  • Headshot needs to be high-resolution.
  • Everything must be returned by xx/xx/xxxx date or we will ask another speaker to participate.

Remember, these influencers are helping you, but in turn, you’re offering a lot to them as well. If they agree to participate, hold them accountable.

TIP: A reminder email to influencers shortly before the due date might be a welcome addition to your outreach plan.

Provide assets to make amplification easier

We all have the best of intentions, but time is short and sometimes projects that people agree to help on suddenly become a burden. Do all you can so that your influencers are more likely to follow through on distributing your content. We’ve included the following in the past:

Provide assets to make it easier for influencers to distribute your #content, advises @cmcphillips. Share on X
  • Pre-written social messaging


  • JPGs of pages so each influencer could promote the e-book or simply his or her contribution. (Note: In most instances, speakers were willing to share both.)

  • Trackable URLs
  • Details on the program, our progress, and what this project meant for our brand. These details help influencers feel more vested.
  • Reminder emails

Measuring results

We used those trackable URLs to determine what (and who) was driving the most traffic, what social network was performing over another, what time of day, day of week, or week in the campaign our content has the most views/downloads, and so much more. All of this makes us more likely to pinpoint something we can improve on for the following year, who the more effective influencers are so we can include them next time, and some new ways to broaden reach.



Influencer marketing is a hot topic, but it’s not as simple as finding a big name and hoping for the best without having a plan in place. By working with your internal team to develop a strong program or an expert partner, influencer marketing can become a critical part of your marketing mix.

We’ve dedicated a track at Content Marketing World to influencer marketing – and there’s still time for you to join it. Register today for the Sept. 4-7 event in Cleveland, Ohio, and use the code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute