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You may have already been told the importance of outreaching to your key influencers, or this may be news to you. Either way, it’s imperative to understand exactly what a key influencer is, and why you need them before putting together your strategy to engage with them.
Before we get started you may also find the below video useful which I put together along similar lines to add some additional depth to this topic. If you’d rather not watch the video then you’ll find lots of guidance in the blog post below it.
A key influencer is someone who is active online and followed by your target audience. We are not talking about your competitors here, but instead individuals who are passionate about the industry your business resides within.
You need to be aware of them and connect with them, as they can tap into the audiences that you have not yet been able to reach, which can help drive leads towards your business and bring visitors to your site. Every industry out there has influencers – you just have to know how to find them. First of all, you need to think about who it is you’re looking for.
Simply put, you need to find people who are active online and may be willing to share your content to their followers. You would also benefit from looking for journalists and bloggers that write about your business field.
The important thing to remember is that you are looking for people that are respected for their opinion – they are a trusted authority who adds value with the content they create and share.
This great infographic gives a breakdown of different types of influencers – not all of them will be relevant to you, but it highlights the point that each type can bring particular benefits to your business.
So now that you know who you’re looking for, you need to make the most of the tools available to find them. There are several paid services out there like Traackr that will provide in depth analytics and draw out the crucial influencers for you. However, if you do not have the budget for this, there are a few free tools and tactics to help you out.
This Moz tool is a particular favourite of mine. The key feature that I recommend is “Search Twitter bios” which lets you type in key words and it will list Twitter users with these phrases in their bio.
The list is ranked by the number of followers and social authority but also gives you some interesting stats about the number of tweets, how many people they are following, and how many days old the account is. The individuals you want to be focusing on are those with the highest social authority.
Klout is a great resource for finding influencers with a simple search. Type in your keyword in the search bar and for most search terms, a list of top influencers will be generated. This can take some trial and error when picking the right terms. The number beside each profile image is their Klout score – the higher the number, the more influential they are, although this isn’t a perfect metric it is helpful for getting a rough idea.
Alltop is essentially a blog search engine that covers a variety of industries. You can either search for a keyword, or look at the Hot Topics. Be wary that Alltop will generate a mix of blogs of differing quality, so take a good look at its recommendations.
If it is an industry recognised blog with a good following, then track down the details of writers that cover topics specific to your industry. Most blogs will have social details for their authors, or you can just search the social networks once you know their name. Alternatively, Technorati is another blog search engine that can dig up some good sites.
Once again, with both of these networks a simple search will do. Find Communities and Groups relevant to your field and do a little research into the members – who are they and what do they do? How many connections do they have? Do they update and share content other than their own?
I am a big advocate of Twitter chats. These are hashtag discussions that take place at a given time where people come together to discuss a particular topic. Influencers are likely to either participate or lead these chats, and so they are well worth tracking down.
Twubs has a Twitter chat directory for each day of the week which is well worth having a look at.
I asked around on Twitter for online marketing expert’s top tips on key influencers.
Dan Barker recommends following hashtags of industry conferences, not just looking at those tweeting about the talks, but those that are mentioned in tweets too.
Peter Houston suggests looking at who is writing for trade magazines and industry blogs.
Tony Dimmock added that you can research trade and industry associations for inspiration, looking at where the industry is at, what stories there are to tell and who is best at telling them.
Brandie McCallum uses tools such as Traackr and Kred as well as word of mouth to find influencers.
Nabeel Butt adds more tools to the list with Twellow and the Find People function on Google+.
When you have all these names and their social details, put together a spread sheet so that you can keep track of those that you want to approach. By collating their details you can get a good idea of how you are going to go about making that first contact.
The first lesson you should learn when engaging with influencers is to listen first – get to know their interests so that when you’re ready to make your first communication with them, you know what to talk about! Follow them on their most active channel and get involved in the following ways:
Once you have engaged with them and made yourself known, it’s important to maintain that relationship. Even if they are kind enough to promote a piece of your content early on, don’t just drop them. Keep them interested by asking them to guest post, or share their opinions in an interview for a blog post on your site. We all like our egos stroked every once in a while, so let them know their opinion is valued.
Needless to say, finding and keeping your key influencers is a time consuming task. Naturally you want to see results. So how can we measure the effectiveness of influencer engagement?
There are several free tools including Social Mentions and Topsy where you can type in your brand name and look at where it has been mentioned across the web. Alternatively, you can use a social media dashboard to monitor mentions. Tweetdeck lets you set up columns for your brand name and relevant terms so that you have a real time update of any mentions on Twitter.
For mentions outside of social, set up Google Alerts for your brand name and relevant key terms. As well as this, keep analysing your backlink profile to see who is linking to you. Last but not least, tracking your Google Analytics data for traffic sources will give you an idea of your impact as well.
Now you have some of the tactics and a beginner’s toolbox to get searching for the people that are going to help you spread the word about your business. Have you used any tools or methods that I have missed or have any questions about key influencers? Let me know in the comments below.
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Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.