A variety of trends have begun driving consumers to earned media. Ad blocking, one of the newest revelations, is a byproduct of a consumer culture no longer interested in blatant promotion. Meanwhile, search ads may or may not provide value to a young business at all. Simply put, conventional marketing approaches don't stand much of a chance against the benefits content marketing provides.

Content instills credibility by providing consumers value and expertise without the pitch. Credibility means trust, and a natural way to earn an audience's trust is to seek influencer advocates to help amplify your content.

Here are seven companies shaping influencer marketing strategies and helping organizations gain influence with the right industry leaders:

The first step of influencer marketing is to establish, well, influence. Too often, companies default to paying for external influencers when potential internal brand advocates and experts may already work within the company.

Influence & Co. helps companies naturally create internal influencers and, more importantly, position their brand message while building their authority in the space. You can look at Influence & Co.'s unique process of combining service and technology to extract expertise and distribute it here.

Many of your business's stakeholders -- including potential recruits, sales, and brand advocates -- don't stand many degrees from your C-suite and probably have a relationship with somebody on your staff. Leveraging these relationships through social posting is what Dynamic Signal does -- reimagining what an industry influencer looks like and turning every member of your team into a brand advocate.

In the content marketing kingdom, TopRank's site explains that any element of the marketing mix standing alone is bound to fall. Brands often dip their toes into content, SEO, and influencer advocacy separately; TopRank delivers results by integrating these approaches. Lee Odden leads TopRank and has been a popular speaker when it comes to the influencer marketing world.

Growing an influencer network can occupy a significant amount of time and energy. But what if the process could be automated? TapInfluence's proprietary tech can help grow your business's stake in the "influence economy" by identifying influencers your business should work with and providing the metrics to measure your return. The company recently raised an additional $14 million, so it doesn't seem like it's putting the brakes on anything.

Brands not looking to the future will be left behind. While millennials have yet to reach the apex of their purchasing power, earning their brand loyalty and advocacy will guarantee that your business is top of mind when they do. Buzz Marketing Group provides the resources to engage this market while simultaneously catering to businesses selling to other audiences.

The influencers you wish to access don't live in a bubble -- often, they lead brand or topical communities, heavily influencing the purchase decisions of the consumers within them. Terakeet connects you to these influencers to generate organic brand visibility. You're not just introducing yourself to an industry leader; you're introducing yourself to the consumer base he or she leads.

Sometimes, the most valuable influencers you can access already follow you on social media. The problem then becomes truly understanding those followers and identifying, sorting, and reaching out to the ones you want to work with.

SocialRank allows you to manage your most influential followers on Twitter and Instagram and filter based on bio keyword, location, and number and quality of followers. You can even use the tool to take action with those people you've targeted, making it a comprehensive tool for finding and activating potential influencers.

Influence People is a full service marketing and PR agency that can help you to naturally build influence in your industry. From blogger relations to PR mentions, Influence People works with you to unleash your potential as an authority in your field.  Their team of influencer specialists will create a clear, consistent message across all media in the market space.

Activating influencers and the communities they impact is the ultimate way to generate consumer trust. That being said, reaching out to them isn't always easy, and it can end up being really expensive if you just try to throw money at them. First, look at what you can do to create your own influence; then, you can look at the tools and resources that will set you up well with external influencers.

What are some other companies that can help boost your influencer marketing efforts? Share in the comments below!

Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer and investor. He is the founder of Pluto TV, Coplex, and Open Me (acquired by Rowl). Named one of Inc.'s '30 Under 30' entrepreneurs, Ilya also has columns appearing on Forbes and LinkedIn. You can keep up with Ilya on  Twitter.

Published on: May 31, 2016