How to Find and Connect With Industry Influencers on Social Media

Posted on August 29, 2014 
Filed Under Brand Building, Facebook, General, Internet Marketing, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Networking, Social Networks, Traffic Building, Twitter

Take a look through your Twitter or Facebook streams. Are your friends talking about the products and brands they are using? Chances are, yes, they are. How about you? Have you ever asked one of your social media peers to advise you on whether a new restaurant down the road is worth trying or not? Have you ever steered someone toward one specific product or service and away from another?

This is influence!

Social-media-influencer

Influence, on social media, is the ability to change how others think and act. Often people think the definitive characteristic of an online influencer is how many Facebook fans and Twitter followers that person has. That’s not technically accurate. It does not matter if you run a blog where you post content everyday about a specific subject. Influence is measured by a person’s ability to drive others to change their opinion and take actions.

So in truth, anyone has the potential to influence another. Influencers are not necessarily people with the most arbitrarily awarded +K on Klout. The challenge therefore is to find the right influencers to engage. Some people have enough pull to drive a spike in web traffic and sales with a single status update.

The point is: As a brand marketer, it’s important to understand that influence can come in several shapes and sizes. Sometimes influence is predictable. Some industry influencers have an established reputation that spreads far and wide. Other times, an algorithmic tool such as Klout or PeerIndex can help you find potential influencers who can sway others on a specific topic. This is of course not a surefire method but only a tool you can use for some help.

Connecting with Your Industry’s Social Media Influencers is a Multi-step Process!

1. Identifying Influencers

When researching your industry social media influencers, the most important consideration is that any influencer outreach should support your existing business goals. You can’t get started without knowing exactly what you want to achieve. Your objective may include one or more of the following:

1. Demonstrate credibility and thought leadership

2. Generate inbound traffic

3. Enhance your business visibility through content creation

4. Build customer relationships

5. Move community members through the purchase funnel

6. Test new products and generate honest feedback

To find influencers who align with your business goals,

  • Keep an ear out for conversations happening in your industry’s community, sweeping the social web to find conversations that matter to you
  • Search the communities you found above to identify who is sharing content and who is most active there
  • Dig deeper into these influencers by checking up on them on LinkedIn and/or Twitter.
  • With a good list of potential influencers, you can now narrow down on 10 or 20 so the number remains manageable. This may require further detailed information about your influencers or you can look at Klout for their influential topics and ensure they are relevant.

2. Winning Over Social Media Influencers

A great way to draw in influencers is by providing them with privileges such as special access to products and/or tools. The principle is simple: If you give first, it’s easier to take. In social media, giving can take many forms. You can offer freebies and/or insider information. You can also offer exposure in exchange for a feedback. Reciprocity is key.

Other considerations include:

– Authority

In order to amass authoritative supporters, you have to be authoritative yourself.

– Liking

People do business and associate with people they know, like and trust.

– Social Proof

If any of your influencers’ connections is participating in your social media effort, call it out. Social proof helps. Something like: “25 people are already participating. We need 5 more. You could be one.”

– Urgency

The thought of missing out incites action. This explains the popularity of limited-time offers and limited-edition products and services.

These concepts are key to crafting an effective introduction message.

3. Engage your Influencers Beyond a One-time Outreach Campaign

An extension of the power of reciprocation, which we discussed earlier, is to engage your influencers beyond a one-time marketing campaign and build a community for the long term instead of cutting ties after the buzz fizzles, there’s got to be something in it for each person involved. So for a long-term relationship with your social media influencers, you need to provide a benefit: regular gifts, discounts and/or publicity to keep your influencers happy. Also surprise and delight your influencers. Listen at the point of need and reward advocates for recommending your products.

Two other considerations:

– Keep your influencers in the loop

Each time a new product is about to launch or there is a new event to attend, let your influencers be the first to know.

– Check in every now and then

Don’t only contact social media influencers when you need a favor. Instead, send an email periodically or leave a comment on their blog.


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