One of the hot new catch-phrases in social media marketing circles is the word “influencer“. In a nutshell, it’s a person or entity that can influence consumers, readers, etc. and marketers large and small are trying to figure out ways to identify these influencers and then get them to behave in a manner that benefits branding and marketing efforts.
Oh and by the way, if these influencers come in the form of a website, the links that said influencers provide can prove to be an SEO bonanza.
So let’s say you’ve graduated to the point where said influencer mentions/links are coming in on a somewhat steady basis, maybe even without any sort of direct solicitation. First off, that’s great news for your site and your business, because unsolicited mentions provide the kind of long-term marketing equity that money can’t buy. Secondly, it’s crucial to develop a foolproof methodology for identifying these unsolicited mentions when they occur. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s crucial to identify the various forms of currency that reward these influencers and condition them to cite your site/brand/business again in the future.
After all, the only thing better than an unsolicited mention is a steady stream of unsolicited mentions over time!
Identifying mentions can be as simple as setting up Google Alerts for your brand name (or using social monitoring platforms if you’ve got the budget and know-how). I would also advise sifting through referring site data via your analytics platform in order to identify new sites that refer traffic to your site. Also, if you use a CMS like WordPress, you can easily access info on other sites/blogs that link to your site’s content.
Once you’ve accomplished these first two steps you’re two-thirds of the way home, but you still need to understand the concept of influencer currency and how to use it in order to build long-term rapport with said influencers.
What do I mean by social currency? Let me give you some concrete examples to drive home the idea:
- If an influencer shares your content via a social profile (e.g. retweets, likes, +1, etc.) make it a point to do the same for them.
Note: make sure that you do so for a piece of content that is worthy of sharing and is somewhat relevant to your niche. No need to hurt your own social standing and reputation. If you can’t return the favor because of lack of quality or relevance, at least take a moment to thank said influencer for the gesture.
- If an influencer mentions you in a piece of content (an article, blog post, etc.) take a moment to leave a relevant comment if commenting is enabled.
Note: not just a simple “thank you for the mention” but also something that adds value to the conversation or topic at hand.
- If an influencer mentions you with a link and their content is quality stuff, think about ways that you can return the favor by linking to them in some way (Hint: This is a spot where having a blog can come in handy).
- If an influencer mentions you with a link and their content is of high quality and highly relevant to your niche, share it via your social profiles (e.g. retweet it, like it, etc.)
- Take some time to track down the social profiles associated with said influencer and follow/friend them if you use the same networks (e.g. follow them on Twitter, Google+, etc.)
These are just some of the various forms of influencer currency available to you. There are definitely many others. So make sure you’ve got these basics down pat and then get creative and develop other ways to deliver value to the influencers in your business niche.
The effort needed is definitely justified by the long-term ROI your will cultivate over time.