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4 Steps to Engaging Industry Influencers

Think about the top influencers in your industry.

Now imagine that these leaders are standing behind your specific brand, promoting your message to their own extensive followings. How much money would you pay for such an endorsement? What could this kind of social proof do for your bottom line?

This month we’re all about engagement, and influencer marketing is one of the most powerful, cost-effective, and underutilized forms of engagement out there. As Kyle Porter, CEO of Salesloft, shared in his webinar with us last month, influencer marketing can have an invaluable impact on the reach and credibility of your message—and can be done with little to no budget by large and small businesses alike. Sound too good to be true? Check out a few best practices (and quoteworthy moments) from our webinar:

Step 1: Find your leaders.

“First things first, we have to find the people who are talking about the things that matter to us.” (7:01)

You may have a vague idea of the big names in your industry, but it’s important to sit down and write a concrete list of these individuals. As Kyle suggests, try checking out recent awards lists (“10 [field experts] to Watch in 2014”), or blog posts that highlight the opinions of thoughtleaders. You can also try conducting a simple search in Twitter with keywords or phrases (“b2b marketing”) and clicking on the “People” tab for some of the biggest Twitter handles that center around your search topic.

Step 2: Stay in tune.

“Monitor the things that [your leaders] are saying; stay in tune and in touch with their worlds.” (17:02)

One of the simplest ways to do this is to create a Twitter list. Whether you keep this list private or share it as a resource for others who are interested in similar topics, having all of these influencers on one list allows you to easily see their feeds at a glance. Free tools (Kyle mentions NutshellMail) can allow you to see daily digests of your influencers’ activities, and start to get a sense of the content they’re sharing, how they convey their message, and how they engage with their followers.

Step 3: Promote their message.

“Whenever you first connect with an influencer, you have to be very careful that you don’t try to promote your message; that you try to promote their message.” (7:50)

Once you get a sense of who your influencers are and how they deliver their message, it’s time to start engaging and building a relationship with them. This does not mean reaching out and asking them to share your content for you; your influencers have no motivation to be your message board. Instead, find ways to promote their message to your audience (“5 Quotes from [influencer] that Will Change Your Marketing Game”), and then thank them for the inspiration.

Step 4: “Go big.”

“If you find the leaders that you believe in, and you show you believe it, and you tell the world why they should buy into it, that leader’s going to see you as a great fan that’s helping move their message, and they’re going to want to do things to help you move your message as well.” (21:25)

Once you’ve started building these relationships by showing your influencers that you support their message and cause, it’s time to (as Kyle puts it) “go big.” Invite an influencer to speak at an event, or be a guest in a video interview. Opportunities like these allow the influencer to further their reach, and allow you to subtly associate your brand with their message. And don’t forget: even the smallest endorsement (”Thanks to [brand] for having me here today; they’re a great company, you should check them out”) coming from the right person can have an enormous impact on the perception of your brand.

What are some other tips for employing influencer marketing? We’d love to hear from you in our comments section, and don’t forget to check out the full webinar for more tips, tricks, and examples!