Staying on top of current events and trends in social media makes us aware of the vast importance of influencers in the marketing dynamics of various brands. Influencers are people who command extensive reach, authority, and reputation in their area of expertise. Therefore, their opinions carry much weight in the decision-making processes of the masses.
Now, the following question arises: How can I build a relationship with an influencer starting from step one? Well, despite the fact that every journey is quite different, the following steps form the basis for getting on the right track with the relationship building process.
First… “Build Your Profile”
How many times have I seen a follow request from a user whose profile was only half-ready? Well, too many… Think of it as going to a job interview without a resume, wearing casual clothes and jogging sneakers. You might be qualified and have the knowledge to get the job, but will your accomplishments get you past that first impression?
Get a professional photo, use every available space to pitch yourself, tell people what makes you an expert, what areas stir up your passions, and why you are looking to thrive in social media, engage with a renowned big data expert, or become a foodie. What skills would you like to develop? All these are valid information to help you sell your brand, because, yes, you are a brand too.
Also, don’t forget to include content. If your only post is one that reads “This is my first post,” then will you be taken seriously? Further, posting your created and curated niche content with serious engagement is a true measure that can demonstrate you are in it for real and not for the hype.
Now Go Ahead and Ask Yourself: “Why Do I Want to Build a Relationship with a Particular Influencer?”
Is it a personal goal? Are you looking for a way to learn from an expert in his or her niche? Do you want to launch a product or campaign? Or maybe you’re looking for a way to take your personal brand to a higher level? Any answer you give yourself will be valid, and it will help you explore what strategy to use in securing a communication line that could lead to engagement with an influencer.
There Are Many Influencers…“How to Find the Right One for Me?”
This is actually one of the hardest steps in the process. First, you must analyze the area where you want to grow and think this process through, because every area has its own experts, albeit some influencers can command respect in more than one category.
Then, to find those influencers who have authority in a particular field, use a tool—such as Media Discovery, Brand24, Buzzsumo, and Klout—which is designed specifically for the task. Another way is to look for influencer lists in reputable sources like Onalytica; these can be found in such websites and relate to certain topics like cloud computing, social selling, and even beauty and fashion. Finally, just do a hard search for internet articles that give information on influencers, but beware—some just present the author’s perspective.
A word of caution here: As my friend, Timothy Hughes, says, “There is a difference between a celebrity and an influencer.” A famous race driver giving hints on how to get into the racing business is an influencer, yet the same race driver promoting a line of fine wines, well… That’s just celebrity advertising.
Also, don’t fall for the number of followers, look for the engagement they evoke. Did they write any books or publish some articles? These details could confirm the influencer’s authority and relevance.
You Are Ready… “Make A Connection”
It’s time to start following the influencers of your choice on their preferred channels; it could be Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, beBEE, Instagram, or LinkedIn, to name a few. Also, consume their content, look at what they share, and whom they retweet. That can lead you to other important influencers who are experts in their niche. Also, hosting TwitterChats is a great way to build trust and connections.
Engage, state your opinions, ask questions, give likes and share good articles—don’t be a silent observer, show your knowledge and capacity to be an important part of the engagement process.
A hint here would be to start with no less than three influencers at a time, because while sometimes your efforts will result in engagement and visibility, at other occasions the effect will not always be what you may have expected. Don’t give up, reorganize and repeat as needed.
Solidify Your Connections… “Create Partnerships”
Remember this famous quote from the Batman movie: “If you are good at something, never do it for free?” Biggest lie ever !!! Now, this is the moment where you help an influencer launch a book, co-host a TwitterChat, or even volunteer to be part of a panel or an interview. Most of the time your effort will not only be welcomed but also reciprocated with posting your content or giving golden words of wisdom and advice, and could even lead to various levels of actual mentoring. And trust me—their wisdom is gold; you can’t put a price on the experiences shared… They have walked the path, so they know the path.
By now, you should also get noticed by other influencers, who will be more willing to accept you as a connection. Be ready because this is where the best part starts. I can only compare it to getting a seat at the table—not the best seat, but still a seat. Engagement becomes more casual as you glide into the circles of trust… Don’t forget by this time to also build “SocialSquads” with other like-minded professionals who can help you and each other expand reach and cooperate in pushing your brand in a group effort.
Congratulations… You’ve Finally “Made It”
Now, prepare yourself to share the limelight, maybe as an advocate or even a micro-influencer—time to share your knowledge further, write blog posts, or maybe create a podcast. Another popular activity is vlogging, that is adding video posts to your blog to reach a broader audience.
Don’t Ever Let Your Success “Get To Your Head”
The magic of working with influencers is that you can be professional and authentic at the same time, but beware, fast success can sometimes bring arrogance along. Don’t fall into the trap because it’s the easiest way to end up on a one-way street.
So, what are you waiting for? It is time to start the journey… Success is on the way!