Attracting Industry Influencers
In order for a company to develop a name, networking needs to put it on the map. Fortunately, in today’s society, it can be easy to find influencers who not only do this, but also use social platforms in order to generate conversation about your company. The important thing is determining which targets are best suited for your industry.
Targeting Industry Influencers
Instead of pursuing the biggest, high-profile influencers in your industry, look instead for small groups of people who are connected via social networking, forums, or blogs. Don’t approach the obvious top industry influencers “cold.” Look at working first with grassroots influencers who aren’t necessarily perceived as the biggest in their industries, but are influential over a smaller, tighter group. This is the best approach, particularly in a new industry. This is how our company built relationships – and our brand – in the Internet marketing industry.
Get involved, build a relationship, and expand the group outward. This will put you and your brand on a trajectory to be approached by bigger influencers as you grow your network. A great book called Grouped by Paul Adams, a product manager for Facebook, confirms this type of approach. Connecting first with relatively smaller groups of influencers and then trading up through the network is the most effective way to achieve your goal of viral growth.
The Importance of Attraction
The simple value of influencers’ roles and functions enables you to reach a greater number of people faster and easier. Realize that your brand has value to them, just as much as you want them to talk about it with their audience. Locate the right influencers, who exist in smaller social groups you can connect with directly.
When you connect, their feedback will be more “functional” in that it will come in the context of real interactions with you and your brand, preferably involving all members of the social group. While the number of people you reach may be smaller, your conversion rate should be higher.
How to Find Influencers
The best way to go about spotting an influencer really comes down to where the particular community you’re targeting is hanging out online. This will vary widely from one area to the next. For example, in our company’s music ventures, Facebook is a big influencer because the music community we’re working with spends most of its time on that platform. Other social networks like ReverbNation, SoundCloud, and MySpace are also music-centric platforms.
On the other hand, there are communities that mainly spend their time on LinkedIn or Twitter because of the nature of what they do. For example, if your business is in the field of job recruitment, you’ll most likely be using LinkedIn. If your business is in real estate, you may be thinking of Airbnb. There are alternatives to Facebook and Twitter.
Here are three simple steps to take once you’ve spotted your influencers:
- Use simple tools (e.g. Facebook’s groups) to locate like-minded individuals who have formed forums/threads.
- Start interacting with the “admin” founders (Facebook has this within groups).
- Interact with the active commenters in the threads and/or the people who are contributing the most to the groups, in terms of expertise and knowledge.
Ways of Getting Feedback
You may want feedback, depending on where you are in the development of your brand. Email feedback is useful if you’re in the process of developing a product or service where an expert’s opinion is needed, or if you have a technical product with moving parts that will require industry feedback. This would be more comprehensive because you’re using the information to further develop or refine your product or service.
If you already have your product or service established, however, and you don’t particularly need expert advice, but rather, exposure for your brand/product, then you should go the route of joining a social platform. Identify and join a tight social group; interact to gain feedback on your product/brand as a direct and natural result of the process of being an active member of the social group/community. The feedback will be very honest by default because it will occur within the context of a real, ongoing conversation within the group, and you’ll have the added benefit of tweaking your brand, ideas, product, or service as you go.
Once you get involved in these targeted social groups, you’ll find it much easier to connect with influencers who can learn about your product and brand. As they become more familiar with you, they’ll help you connect with bigger groups in your industry. Sometimes, it’s not just about what you know, but who you know.
Nyerr Parham says:
Ken -- This blog post is spot-on when it comes to communicating your message with online influencers. So many communications professionals have forgotten the basics of strategic media relations and how to apply that in an online environment. You being in the music industry illustrates that these skills can apply to any industry, as well. I look forward to more blog posts like this one.
Chris Syme says:
Good piece. You can never have too many influncers in your network. Just saw a new influncer-spotting app called Little Bird that targets online influencers. In private beta right now, but taking sign-ups. It looks very promising. I ran across this review this morning from CMI: http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/10/influencer-app-content-marketing-weapon/. Of course, there's always the ever-popular Klout which also searches influencers by topic.
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