Things to Consider Before Interviewing Influencers

Moosa Hemani
by Moosa Hemani | Last Updated Oct. 18th, 2013 0 COMMENTS


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The first thing to consider when interviewing influencers is your objective. Are you trying to get additional readers and attention for your blog? Are you trying to get the maximum amount of exposure and links for the specific piece of interview content you’ve produced? Are you trying to create content via your interview for a very specific audience?

Many people in the online marketing niche have leveraged individual and group interviews to get additional exposure and to have interesting content created by well known personalities, but interviews and interview series are hot not only in the inbound marketing industry but in other niches as well. As with most content marketing tactics, there are some interviews and interview series that went generated a lot of exposure and links, while others drowned in to the deep end of the digital content sea.

When it comes to interviews, it seems like the major part of the content creation (and even content promotion) is dependent upon the interviewee, so why do some interviews work really well while others don’t? I have interviewed a number of great brains in the SEO community and read many other interviews/series and managed to figure out the specific factors that make some interviews winners while others get little to no traction.

So, here are the things you should consider before sending your interview questions to an influencer.

Choosing The Right Influencer

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It is important to choose the right influencer for the interview. This goes back to the initial question of what your goal is. For instance if your topic were link building and it were important to you that you reached an audience interested in this topic, you would want to identify someone with an established following and a history of sharing great ideas on the topic – someone like Will Reynolds or Michael King. If your focus were to reach readers interested in community management, someone with that specific expertise and an established following like Jennifer Sable Lopez would be a great subject.

Focusing on those influencers who have a big following is very important here – that way you get a chance to explore and invite a new audience to your blog. You can then see how many of them stay with your blog as regular readers and subscribe to you for continuous updates. Choosing influencers from different geographic locations is also a great idea because this way you open doors to new traffic that can help you grow your blog audience and readership. Let’s say you have an online marketing blog that generates traffic mostly from the U.S and Europe and you are looking to expand your traffic to Asia – interviewing Jason Acidre would a great opportunity as he has a big fan following there!

If you are going to choose the right influencer for the right area and who have a good fan following you will end up having a good amount of social shares, new traffic and quality links to your blog. If you also offer similar services, there is a good chance that you will receive some potential leads out of it.

–         Interview Medium

The medium you use for the interview is also very important and in many niches various mediums work really well. If you talk about SEO and digital marketing, influencers are really busy and do not really have the time to sit with you on Skype for an hour just for the interview. Checkout this snapshot by Neil Patel to have an idea of how busy influencers really are!

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But let’s say you are in the entertainment or sports industry you probably have limited options and the best option you have is to conduct a video interview.

When choosing the medium of your interview try to keep in mind that the comfort level of your influencer is crucial – your relationship with him/her is very important and can help you grow in multiple ways. Also, keep the interest of your targeted audience in mind: if your industry tends to like videos more than a written interview then emailing the interview questions may be a mistake (even if it’s easier on you).

Interview Format

One of the reasons why many interviews don’t create enough buzz is because they either do not have a structured format or the readers find the format boring so they stop reading.

It is very important for you to have a proper format of questions so that the interviewee can enjoy answering them and the readers of the blog find it entertaining enough to share it with their circles.

1.      Number of Questions

I have seen short interviews, long interviews and everything in between and various lengths can lead to content that people like enough to share. So what is the right number of questions to ask?

An “average” number of questions tends to be around 10 to 12, but there is no definite number of questions that you should ask the interviewee. Focus on the questions that you know will add value and be careful not to ask so many questions that the interview takes hours to read or becomes a major inconvenience for the influencer.

2.      Quality of Questions

This is basic and the most important point of the whole game. It doesn’t matter if you do not follow all of the steps, but if your questions are low quality you will end up having low or no response from your subjects.

Be careful to avoid simple questions that get asked in interviews over and over, and be sure not to repeat the same questions previous interviewers have asked the subject – this will make your content unique for readers, and also make the interview more enjoyable and interesting for the influencer (which will lead to better answers!).

Pro Tip: Read all the previous interviews to have an idea of what kind of questions he/she likes and have more knowledge about!

3.      Areas You Should Be Covering

This is the part that the interviewer usually forgets when asking questions. You should be well prepared and should cover each area of his/her expertise. Your readers very well may be familiar with the influencer and their recognized specialties and will expect you to tap that expertise in your interview.

I personally start with a light question and then quickly move towards the professional focuses they are well-known for. Ask one question for each area of expertise and then move back slightly to the personal choice questions to lighten up the mood.

4.      Template Questions

I have seen people get away with these but if you plan on an interview series it is important not to make use of template questions for every influencer/expert you interview because this way your readers can predict what you will ask next and the interest is lost.

Design the questionnaire keeping the celebrity in mind and you will see the interviewee will love answering the questions. Also the readers will get a chance to learn something new every time you publish an interview.

Although your questions should contain variety for every celebrity you interview, you should try to keep one question at least as your “punch question” (like a punch line) that you can ask every influencer to get different replies each time. This will surely make the readers smile. When it comes to me, my last question usually remains the same and most interviewees respond to it on a lighter note.

Promotional Plan

The promotional plan of the interview isn’t unlike that of any other content you might create, but there are few things you should do in order to cater to a large audience.

  1. As soon as you hit the publish button, try to email the live link to the influencer and request them to share it with their audience.
  2. Try to get the right persons of all the websites/tools that come under discussion and email them the link and request them to promote with their audience.
  3. It is also advisable to email all the people who have interviewed the same celebrity in the past and request them to share it with their audience. They will most likely to do that because they also consider the interviewee as an influencer.
  4. Collect all the live interviews of that influencer, go to OSE, check their back links and plan your outreach around sites that have linked to previous interviews with the subject.
  5. Contact people who do weekly roundups in your niche and suggest that they consider your interview in their roundup – they’re likely familiar with the influencer so there’s a good chance they’ll be willing to add the post.

Interviews are a great tactic not only for link building and traffic generation but for overall online marketing activity, and they can provide great knowledge to your blog readers. Just try to be well prepared before emailing your interview questions to the influencer or before you video chat (in case of a Skype interview), so that the interviewee can enjoy answering and add value for you, because without proper preparation you will end up wasting a great opportunity to get attention, traffic, and links.

Are you ready to prepare kick ass questions for your next interview?

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