You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” When it comes to social networking, this saying certainly holds true. As you’re trying to leverage various social media platforms to spread your message, the quality of your connections will play a big role in determining just how effective you are at this. If you have a small network that doesn’t carry much influence, well, your messages won’t go too far. But if you’ve build relationships with some of the influencers in your niche, then you have the chance to reach a much bigger audience and to build a much more beneficial network of contacts.
Of course, getting the social media influencers in your niche to notice you and to help spread your message isn’t as simple as following them and sending them a Tweet. It takes a lot more work than that. If you want to truly connect with the top online influencers, you need to:
- Identify the influencers in your industry—First things first, you have to figure out who the influencers are in your field. Who do people listen to? Who has a lot of pull? In other words, who are the movers and the shakers? These can be anybody from high-level executives to bloggers. Find people who have an active social media presence, hundreds of connections, and a loyal base of followers who engage with them. There are many good tools out there that make it easy for you to identify the influencers in your industry, such as Klout.
- Monitor the influencers—Next, you need to track what the influencers in your industry are doing. That means subscribing to their blog feeds, following them on Twitter (create a separate Twitter list for the influencers you’re tracking), connecting with them on Facebook, and so on. This will help you identify where the conversations are taking place, so that you can move on to the next step which is to…
- Engage in conversations with them—Once you’ve identified the influencers in your niche and connected with them, you need to engage in conversations with them. There are so many different ways you can do this. For example, if they have a blog, you can follow that blog and leave insightful comments on the posts. If they Tweet something you find interesting, reply to it or ReTweet it. If they take part in group discussions, join in and add your two cents to the conversation.
- Demonstrate your value—Build goodwill, trust, and social capital with influencers by helping them out in any way you can. You can share their content, send them business referrals, promote their causes, buy their products, and share information with them that you think they will find helpful. When you do these things, influencers will take notice of you, and in many cases, these favors will be returned in time.
Of course, connecting with the top social media influencers in your industry is only a small part of social media marketing and brand building. Make sure you don’t ignore the rest of your target audience in the process.