Finding and analyzing social media influencers in your industry is a great first step towards improving your own reach and influence. The big challenge is getting their attention and trust. Let’s face it, most of these folks aren’t following you, don’t know about your blog and, quite frankly, why should they? There’s the rub. Unless you play your cards right, your chances of leveraging the power of a relevant influencer are pretty minimal at best. So here are some things you can do right now to improve your chances.
Don’t Market to Influencers – Ever!
The last thing you want to do is poison the well before you ever make a real connection. Once you’ve identified a few of the real “players” in your industry, follow them, learn from them, retweet and like their posts, but only if you’ve read their posts and really like them. This is no different from making a real friend. You must be genuine and trustworthy before you will ever have a chance at even a single conversation, let alone a promotion or recommendation. Under no circumstances should you ever send anything unsolicited (email, DM etc) to an influencer until they ask you for it.
Engage Only When and Where It’s Appropriate
Look for opportunities to engage, but don’t stalk influencers. Make a comment on one of their blog posts if you have something valuable to add. Don’t just say how great the blog is. You might stroke their ego a bit, but they won’t respond or engage except to say thank you. Instead, support or argue against a premise in the post with some real data or a real experience you’ve had. This adds value to the comment stream. If you have some expertise or stories to tell, you will be marked as a contributor. Under no circumstances should you add a backlink to your blog or website. You will immediately be targeted as a spammer. Here are some other places you can find influencers and engage with them in a meaningful way:
- LinkedIn Groups and Answers – participate in discussions and Q & A
- Quora and other Q & A sites
- Blogs of people your influencers follow
- Facebook pages
- Twitter chats and hashtags
Become an Influencer in Your Own Right
There’s nothing more attractive to an influencer than another influencer. You may have noticed that they are constantly talking to each other all day, every day in Twitter and elsewhere. To become an influencer you must gain recognition in your field by posting your own great blogs that add real, original value. You must become a thought leader by continuously providing great advice and helpful ideas. You must build a following of real people with common interests in social media. You must be present and show your interest by participating in conversations on a daily basis. Over time you will build a community of people who listen to what you have to say and refer to you through tweets, likes and comments. Other influencers will notice, and the conversations will start with them as well.
There’s nothing magical about being an influencer. It doesn’t make you rich or a celebrity, but it does give you the power to influence the decisions and ideas of others. That’s not just a power – it’s a responsibility. The more your influence grows, the more your reputation and credibility will come under scutiny. Wear your influence with pride and nurture the relationships you build with other influencers, and good people will find you.
Photo credit: Guy Kawasaki