The one-to-many broadcast style that has made social media such an appealing channel for so many marketers is changing. Tweets are now buried under the thousands of new accounts added daily, and according to Facebook analytics firm PageLever, most Facebook page posts fade off into the ether in just three to five hours after getting published. Brands need to adapt their focus in order to be successful. But how?
The future of social media may lie in identifying and utilizing industry influencers. Instead of hoping to broadcast your message to the masses, you should be trying to create a groundswell, allowing influencers to share your messages for you. So how do you go about putting influencers to work for you? Let’s take a look.
Do Your Research
As the importance of influencers continues to grow, a number of services have sprouted up to help businesses identify the influencers. Paid service LittleBird promises to put you in the right conversations with the right people, and Klout has introduced a new service aimed at identifying the best influencers. However, both are still in private beta.
So while you are waiting for these services to become available to the masses, you can do a little legwork on your own. If you use a social client like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you should already have columns set up to monitor your industry’s most common keywords. Keep an eye on these columns for any of the following:
Is a particular person retweeted frequently?
Are people sharing content from a particular person often?
Is there somebody who tweets your keywords a lot?
It is likely that the people you identify are influential on topics pertaining to your keyword. Once you’ve identified these influencers, it’s time to start building a relationship.
Start your relationship slowly by following your influencers on major social channels. Keep the first two weeks strictly to passive engagement. Retweet a particularly resonant tweet and share some of their content (if they create any). You want to share enough of their content that they recognize you as a consistent follower.
Special note: Simply linking to their content will not put you on anyone’s radar. Take a minute to add value in the form of your own thoughts or feedback.
Make Your Pitch
Once you’ve spent some time building your relationship, it is time for you to put that relationship to work by pitching a piece of your recent content for them to share. This is often a nerve-racking moment for many marketers, but needlessly so. In my experience, I’ve never heard of an influencer getting upset, complaining, or otherwise acting unpleasant in any way. The worst case scenario is that your request will get ignored.
Pitches can range in seriousness, and your approach should hinge on what you’re looking to accomplish. If you are looking to have an influencers publish your content on their site or blog, a well-composed email is often the best way to make your request. If you are simply looking to have them share your content with their network, a brief tweet pointing out why they may be interested and linking to your content may be all you need to elicit a response.
Special note: It is important that you present any influencer with value. You should not request a share for just any work. Only put your best content — something you are truly proud of — in front of an influencer.
Nurturing the Relationship
Now if you’ve laid the groundwork, you may see your content spread far and wide by your influencers. After your celebration dance (mine looks kind of like this), you need to make sure you maintain your relationship. Don’t stop sharing, retweeting, and engaging with your influencers. The more you maintain those relationship, the more likely it is that you will get shares again.
How do you identify influencers for your marketing?