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An influencer in hand is worth two in the bush

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)
  • both

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.


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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    This is a great strategy. Since you know that they’ve already linked to you it means that they respect your work. The next step is to reach out and form a relationship that may lead to new link building opportunities over time. Establishing that trust and maintaining it is crucial.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for chiming in, Nick! You hit the nail on the head. It’s easier to establish and maintain a relationship with an influencer that has explicitly expressed a willingness to engage by linking to your site.

  • http://blog.ecairn.com Laurent

    The world has become one of specialists. Therefore, in social media land, people have self-organized in a mega-network of tribes. Each tribe has a core of voices reviewing/debatting/inventing everything in the industry.
    The holy grail would be to couple:
    1) relevance to the brand’s industry (influence maps)
    2) interaction with the brand (traffice analysis)
    So for example a brand would analyze friends and traffic from fb/twitter/blog and sort out the influencers from the non influencers then characterize them. They would know they have 1000 influencers in which 200 are moms, 100 are beauty, 98 are fashion, 60 are fitness, 40 are food and so on…
    And then they could adapt strategies and tactics accordingly.
    More and more studies are showing the tremendous leverage from influencer marketings:
    – 2x purchase driven by beauty bloggers vs magazines
    – 26x views on video from relevant influencers (saw that on an Ogilvy blog last month)
    and more.

    • Anonymous

      Great points, Laurent! This is definitely where marketing and advertising is heading (e.g. heavy focus on social analytics and influencer engagement)

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