Do you know who the key influencers in your industry are?
What is your strategy for finding and engaging with these influencers on social media?
… do you not bother with them at all?
Influencers in your industry who are active on social media are likely to have a large following and can help you attract a new audience for your products and services….
…if you build a relationship with them.
Building those relationships requires a process.
In this article, we cover a six-step process for social media influencer engagement.
The first step in the process of identifying the influencers who you want to engage with is… to listen.
You were given two ears and only one mouth for a good reason!!
Listen to industry conversations, start searching and reading and begin building your list of influencers.
You need to understand the influencers…
What are they talking about and who they are talking to?
Influencers typically talk with other influencers so, by identifying a couple of influencers, you will be on a trail to more!
Here are some examples of what you can do:
a) Use tools such as Little Bird that help you to find out which influencers are engaging with other influencers.
Little Bird does analysis to see which influencers are following and engaging with other influencers and produces really interesting lists.
b) Use Twitonomy as a free way of identifying who influencers are regularly talking to on Twitter.
c) Search Google for the most relevant keywords related to your industry and, soon enough, you’ll find a common set of websites that keep appearing. This is where your influencers are hanging out!
When you find influencers, you want to see their:
- Relevance – What type of content are they sharing and is this relevant to your business? If it’s not relevant, they are attracting the wrong type of audience.
- Reach – How big is their reach? You’ll want to see the authority of their website and their following on social media channels.
- Engagement – It’s great having 1,000,000 followers, but are they engaging with their content?
After listening, you’ll end up with a list of key influencers you want to track.
Now you can create this list and make a note of details such as who they are and what they stand for.
Filter this list to identify the most relevant influencers.
You want to build a relationship with these influencers so it’s going to be important to understand what they are about:
- What content resonates with their audience?
- Do they like sport, movies – what is their passion outside of work?
- What conversations do they engage with?
- What type of content do they write about?
- What’s their most popular content (check out BuzzSumo for research)?
You have probably reduced the list of influencers now, as you removed the ones who are not relevant.
This means you can do to more detailed tracking.
You might set up facilities to filter out the conversation only related to the influencers. You might want to track any spikes they are getting with their content. And you might want to track which other influencers are engaging with them.
Create a Twitter list – When I started out, I had a list of 100 influencers so I created a private list in Twitter with all the influencers and, every day, I monitored this list.
Monitoring – You can set up a monitoring tool (e.g. Talkwalker for web alerts or Brand24 for social media and web alerts). I set up a tool called RivalIQ, which shows when influencers have ‘breakout posts’. These are posts on social media channels that have gotten more traction than any other posts.
This is really useful to keep track of.
You’re ready to jump in now!
The best way of building a relationship with an influencer is to figure out how you can help them.
If that is your only thought, at the early stages of building a relationship, then you will do well.
Monitor their blog posts and track their comments. If they have the Disqus comment system in place, you can follow them on Disqus. This means you’ll get notifications of conversations they are having on Disqus on many different sites.
Set up a monitoring tool and look at the places where they are engaging in conversation (e.g. follow them on Disqus).
Sign up for their email list and look for opportunities to respond.
You can use a tool like OutreachPlus to manage your influencer outreach email campaigns. This tool will track all the emails you send and their status, as well as the relationships you build with influencers through a useful functionality called the “contact temperature.”
Remember that most people’s engagement strategy for influencers is to email them, without knowing them, and asking them for something in their first email.
You need to be different!
Now that you have built a relationship with them, it’s time to elevate this to the next level.
Elevating means having a conversation with them.
a) Travel to an event they are attending – Of course, you can’t travel to lots of different events to meet all the influencers but you can identify the most important influencers and, typically, a group of them will congregate around one conference.
Note: Don’t forget about all the social media research you can do before you travel to the event. Follow the event’s hashtag, and monitor conversations from the influencers related to the hashtag. Use some of the hashtag tracking tools.
b) Interview them – If you can’t get to see them in person, maybe you could interview them for your blog. During this conversation, they will get to know more about you and your business. Your relationship will prosper!
c) Hire them – Your influencers may be available for 1-hour consultancy sessions. Sometimes, spending money is useful if that’s the only way to get them on a phone!
Congratulations! You’ve put in all the ground work to build those relationships.
Now it’s time to benefit from all this.
Because you went down the relationship route, you avoided the one-hit wonder where you reach out to influencers without knowing them, looking for something, and then hoping one of them will respond.
You’ve gone for the long-term approach, which will lead to long term results.
Building a relationship with an influencer in your industry is important and it’s unlikely you’ll get a second chance.
Invest time in really building the relationship and get long-term results.
What’s your process/tools for identifying, reaching out and engaging with influencers through social media?