Posting high-quality, on-point content and messaging on your social platforms day in and day out can be a frustrating experience, given the (much) shortened reach on Facebook, and the niggling feeling that your tweets and G+ posts are going into a black hole of nothingness. The whole point of social media is to amplify your message and engage with your audience- what to do if you’re not achieving either goal, despite all the elbow grease you’ve put in.
It’s time to develop your very own social influencer strategy, and put your contacts to work for you. The idea is to identify the right social influencers, befriend them, convert them into advocates for your brand, and convince them to post your content and messaging for their followers to see.
Identifying Social influencers
A social influencer is an individual or company with a sizable and dedicated following on social media. Identifying the right social influencers for your brand takes time and effort. The plan is to engage with them regularly, and you don’t want to waste time cultivating the wrong leads.
- Your audience is your compass. What issues, conversations, or products do your audience care about? Who do they listen to? Spend some time on each of your platforms, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, Instagram or elsewhere doing keyword searches. The most relevant accounts will bubble up to the top.
- Research your competitors. Find out which other industry players in your field have a sizable social media program. While other competitors are unlikely to extend a helping hand, you can still see which influencers are engaging with them. These influencers can be a gold mine- you’ve already found that they have a solid audience, and they don’t mind promoting similar content- why not yours?
- Narrow down your list. It’s better to have 5-10 quality individuals on your radar than 100 less relevant ones. If you’re in the HR field, don’t just search for people who might fall under the broad category of “HR influencers”. Take the extra time to drill down to more specific subfields. Are you looking for HR in the cloud? Recruiting? Talent management? There are so many movers and shakers on social media that it’s worth your while to get specific.
Converting Social Influencers
The second phase of the plan takes the most amount of work. In a nutshell, you’re introducing yourself to your selected influencers and working to befriend them.
- Listen and respond. Earmark 2-3 hours a week on different days to check in on your influencer list. Check out what they’re posting, read the articles, and respond with thoughtful questions and comments. If you’re acting on behalf of a company or brand, stick to industry-related content and steer clear from commenting on personal posts like pictures of their lunch (or their children). It can be inappropriate, and nobody likes a brownnoser.
- Deepen your acquaintance. After a couple of weeks, it’s time to more directly introduce yourself. The key here is to be authentic and genuine. Many social sites (especially Twitter) have auto-generated messages that are sent out to anyone who follows them. The last thing you want is to sound like a robot.
- Introduce them to your content. Let them know that you love their posts/blogs/video, and send them a link to some of your own content. Example: “I’ve really been enjoying reading your posts the last couple of weeks. I think you’ll really like my recent post on _____. What do you think?”
Convincing Social Influencers to Amplify Your Messaging
This last and final “phase” (I’m putting this in quotes, since it’s a phase that never truly ends), is where you cut to the chase and get to see a return on all the efforts you’ve invested thus far. It’s time to get your messages amplified on social!
- Make it easy. After you’ve established a rapport with your influencers and they’re familiar with their content, you can begin to ask them to share it on your behalf. Pre-draft posts for them and send a private message. Example: “I think your audience might be interested in this content. If you agree, can you please share?”
- Use your best judgment. Don’t send your influencers every blog post, video, whitepaper, or sharable graphic you develop. Nobody likes to be taken advantage of, and calling in too many favors can get old fast. Focus on getting your highest-value assets queued up and out.
- Reciprocate. How can you ask someone to share your content if you won’t do the same? Repost their content with the same frequency they do, and you’ve got a bona fide “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” relationship.
- Keep those relationships warm. Your social influencer strategy shouldn’t have an end point- the key here is managing the relationship in an ongoing fashion so that it can help you produce results and boost readership in the long term.
- Keep expanding. Once you’ve gotten 5-10 social media heavy hitters in your corner, don’t stop there! Identify the next 5-10 and start the process all over again. The longer you keep up the process, the more solid your network will be. In no time, you’ll be a social influencer yourself!
What are your favorite methods of engaging social influencers? Are there any special tools you use to help augment the process? Please leave a comment below!