There a lot of talk in social media and SEO circles about engaging with influencers. Moreover, software tools are either sprouting up out of the woodwork or refining their methodologies and algorithms in order automate or at least facilitate the act of identifying relevant influencers within a specific vertical or topic niche.
I’m thrilled about this development because influencer engagement is one the fundamental pillars of my personal approach to enterprise-caliber social media marketing. However, it occurs to me that most of the conversations and tools are focused around identifying new potential influencers that are out there in the wild but have yet to interact with the brand in a measurable and significant way. That’s definitely one solid approach for identifying social media influencers, but there’s another approach that gets much less attention.
In a nutshell, marketers are failing to identify influencers that have already interacted with the brand’s primary online asset. Moreover, in some cases, brands are missing out on new influencer interactions that are happening on a daily basis and that are occurring right under their proverbial noses.
What am I referring to exactly?
Simply put, brands are failing to take a close look at referring site traffic data, which often includes new referring sites (blogs, forums, mainstream publications, etc.) that have either never referred traffic before or haven’t referred traffic in a long time. Even if the referred traffic is minimal, these referring sites often represent influencers in the making that have taken the time to create unsolicited references to the brand website(s). Moreover, their proven propensity to link out suggests that they’re a good target for outreach and engagement that could lead to a steady ongoing stream of mentions and links.
And that’s a very good thing from both a social media and SEO perspective.
It’s not really all that hard to identify these influencers in the making. All it requires is a commitment to reviewing referring traffic data on an ongoing basis (daily if you’re a big brand with a large stream of referring sites) and sifting through irrelevant or unfeasible referrers in an effort to identify the ones that are either:
- brand new (e.g. they’ve never referred traffic to the site before)
- first time in a long time (e.g. they haven’t referred traffic in months or even years)
And heck, even if they have referred traffic recently, they may still be good candidates for outreach and engagement, particularly if they are deemed to be highly influential (e.g. they drive a lot of referral traffic when they do link out, or the links have significant SEO value, or the referring site itself is tied to highly relevant and influential social profiles).
So what are you waiting for? Start sifting for influencer gold that may hiding within your referring site data.