Innovative online marketing strategies that aim to grow a business and make money online, should incorporate networking with social influencers. This article will show you how.
Content and articles by social influencers regularly rank high up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for highly targeted SEO (Search Engine Optimization) keywords and phrases.
High content rankings in search engines are, in part, due to the high number of incoming links to social influencers’ content arising from their reach and authority.
Since around 70% of all Internet traffic originates with organic search, this makes alliances with social influencers an important part of building a business online, generating Web traffic, and making money.
Why social influencers are important for business
As more and more enterprises (in the coming years) wake up to the fact that social influence (in the hands of prominent social influencers) is the real online marketing prize, so the fight to win alliances and allegiance with desirable social influencers will intensify.
Related Resources from B2C
» Free Webcast: Strategic Thinking: Social Media + Social Business Strategy
In part, the success of your business in the online world will come down to how well you can identify and convert social influencers into brand ambassadors.
Convincing a highly relevant and influential person to become a brand advocate for your business can have powerful, long lasting benefits for your business – not least of which is trust by association.
Well known and popular niche bloggers, for example, have generally spent years building a reputation for high quality information.
By converting trusted social influencers into brand advocates, you build a powerful online marketing network that is far more effective and durable than any standalone advertising or marketing campaign.
Why real social influence is so valuable
Social influence is valuable precisely because it is so difficult to build. Most marketers now acknowledge that online marketing campaigns run to generate tens or hundreds of thousands of “likes” were pretty much useless.
A “like” is not the same as trust or allegiance, and cannot be converted into revenue in the same way that trust and brand loyalty can. Mistaking likes for social influence is a kind of corporate intellectual apathy IMHO (just because I click a like button doesn’t mean I’m yours forever)
Real social influence is the ability to engage with a large audience. Show them information that they read, digest and react to. Real social influence is targeted and relevant. Real social influence is based on high quality information and content – for which there is no shortcut.
Real social influence is something that takes time to build, and with it comes trust, authority and reach.
How to identify social influencers
When searching for new social influencers to become brand ambassadors, it is important to find the ones who have reach, trust and authority in the right niche. There’s no point in going after an SEO guru if you are selling kitchen appliances.
Often the most effective social influencers for your business may not be people who have the greatest reach, but who have high levels of engagement with a very specific audience.
The quickest and easiest way to find influencers is to search for them on Google using the same SEO terms that your business targets. If you are unfamiliar with SEO, read What is SEO?, which is the best quick, free guide to SEO available.
For example, if your target audience is small business, you might search for phrases like:
- online business ideas 2012
- marketing ideas for small business
- best small business software
- best home based business 2012
You’ll notice that phrases like these are dominated by SEO Entrepreneur, which places in first spot for all of them (more often than not).
By observing strong correlations between the top spot (or top page) results for targeted SEO phrases and certain blogs, sites and authors, you will quickly be able to identify influencers who are in a position to provide great value to your business.
Understanding social influencers
The bad news is that social influencers are often keenly aware of the power they hold – because it takes so much time and effort to build online influence and visibility.
It’s also important to note that most social influencers are inundated by requests to cover products and services – so they are, by default, jaded when it comes to new requests.
The vast majority of marketers looking to find exposure for their products, services and brands simply don’t understand:
- how hard social influence is to build
- the value of social influence
The reason for this is that they, most likely, haven’t had to do it themselves. They haven’t put in years and years of painstaking effort building a network of followers, honing their SEO skills, and generally building social influence.
This is the reason why almost all requests for brand coverage in blog posts fail.
Don’t request something (exposure and visibility) for nothing.
Social influencers likely won’t have the time to respond to most requests for coverage. In order to get their attention, you have to make an offer that is commensurate with the exposure and long lasting benefits you hope to achieve.
Converting social influencers into brand advocates
The good news is that most social influencers do a good job of working with people who understand their value. In other words, make the right offer and it is likely the social influencers will work hard to grow your business in return.
When approaching a new social influencer with a view to creating a strategic partnership, it is important to know the following:
- who they are
- what they do
- what their niche is
- their reach and influence
- are they up and coming, or well established
- what type of information and content they provide
Once you have established a base level of knowledge about that influencer:
- Demonstrate that you are looking to partner with them specifically – as opposed to approaching everyone in that industry with a form letter
- Offer them something before asking for something
- Make the offer commensurate with what you feel they can provide in the long term
Finally, it is important to note that many influencers will simply not enter into financially incentivized relationships because this may damage the relationship they hold with their readers.
If this is the case, I have a great tip:
Offer to do something really cool for free for their readers, or something that is directly noteworthy to them in particular.
By providing something that reflects well on them, or demonstrating a willingness to help their readership or niche industry, you are still able to convert influencers into brand ambassadors.
Have you tried to gain coverage for your brand or business online? What tips and advice do you have for building strategic relationships with influencers?
Are you a social influencer? What tips and advice do you have for businesses looking to partner with you to provide long term value for their brand?
Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments, or join me on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ to continue the conversation.