How to Reach Expert Influencers to Succeed with Your Social Media Marketing Campaign - dummies

How to Reach Expert Influencers to Succeed with Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

By Shiv Singh, Stephanie Diamond

Understanding and reaching expert influencers is important to the success of your social media marketing campaign. The Word of Mouth Marketing Influencer Guidebook 2013 explains that you need to account for five types of influencers. When you think of expert influencers, be sure to cover these five types:

  • Professional/occupational influencers: People in formal positions of authority

  • Citizens: Everyday individuals who are recognized as having influence based on their social network

  • Ambassadors: Individuals who may be paid by the brand or are in a mutually beneficial relationship with the brand

  • Celebrity Influencers: Celebrities, artists, musicians, and so on

  • Advocates: Socially connected individuals (neighborhood leaders, members of community groups, online networks, and business networkers)

Find out more about the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

As you scan the preceding list, you may be asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are your PR people nurturing the relationships with these expert influencers online via all the social platforms on which these expert influencers have set up presences?

    Your public relations people are probably concerned with these expert influencers and are already developing relationships with them. It’s not enough to know what the expert influencers are doing and saying in the physical world — you need to track their activity, commentary, and points of view online. And most important, you need to build relationships with these influencers online.

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  • Is it even possible to develop a relationship with these expert influencers online? Will they even care what you think?

    If you’re a marketer in a small business or maybe chief executive officer of a small business that doesn’t have a formal marketing department, you may wonder whether they will even respond to your tweets, personal Facebook friend requests, and prodding emails. Those are all valid questions. In many cases, social media is now the great leveler. Social media responses are courted from anyone who may potentially influence another’s purchase.

  • Are you pursuing the wrong list of influencers?

    Thanks to the excesses of several mammoth corporations, trust in formal authority is at an all-time low. Consumers are increasingly distrusting big business and are turning to each other for advice. The experts that your consumers depended upon when making purchasing decisions are probably not the very same experts that they are looking toward today.

What does all this mean? Quite simply, it means that you must begin by analyzing who are the expert influencers affecting brand affinity and purchasing decisions for your target markets.

In the final analysis, you need to know the following:

  • Who these expert influencers are

  • Where they are active online

  • Whether it is feasible to even develop a relationship with them on the social platforms in which they are participating

  • How much influence they actually have

Other departments within your company may already have relationships with the expert influencers that they have nurtured over a long period of time. That’s a good thing. Find out whether existing relationships are in place before knocking on the doors of the expert influencers.

Different strategies exist for reaching and activating the expert influencers. How you reach them varies based on who they are, what you want them to accomplish, and where you think you have the best chance of establishing a relationship with them.

You may want to consider the following tactics:

  • Introduce yourself to them at conferences.

  • Reply to their tweets.

  • Comment on their blog posts.

  • Friend them on LinkedIn.

Keep in mind that nurturing expert influencers is an investment in the long term, and you may not always get the response you want from them immediately. Also remember that influencers draw their strength and importance from being unbiased, independent, and credible. Don’t ask them to compromise that position.

Expert influencers like to be in the know. Provide them with exclusive sneak peeks, and they’ll be grateful for the opportunity to see and talk about your product before anyone else does.

If you’re a marketer for a small business, reaching expert influencers is going to be even harder because these people may not be high profile or visible. You’ll have to really seek them out.

Here are some tips for reaching expert influencers:

  • Ask your customers who they seek out for advice.

    Ask your consumers who they are and where they spend their time.

  • Pay attention to the media.

    Keep an eye out for the experts who are quoted frequently by the media when your product or category is discussed. Also keep an eye out for who appears on television.

  • Look at your competitive environment.

    In many cases, these experts sit on the advisory boards of other companies that operate in your space. Understand who these people are.

  • Attend conferences and exhibitions.

    The expert influencers are often called upon to give keynote addresses to industry conferences, lead seminars, and pass judgment on new products and services at exhibitions.

  • Seek out the industry analysts.

    The analysts often have an outsized influence on customers in your product category. Their influence increases dramatically in the business-to-business space, where customers depend upon them for advice when making large-scale purchasing decisions.

  • Evaluate their online footprint.

    Use professional tools for rankings, such as the Alexa score. Alexa ranks all sites based on their relationship to all other sites on the web in the last three months. Search the rankings of sites you frequent and see which independent blogs rank high. Two other good tools to find influencers is LittleBird, which identifies influencers by topics that are chosen by their peers, and Buzzsumo, which lets you find influencers by topic.

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  • Become an influencer yourself.

    Seek out leadership positions in your community and in your industry by joining trade groups and industry associations. Make it a goal to speak at conferences in your field. You’ll become an influencer and will get access to other influencers.