Put simply, online influencers are professional celebrities who work in a specific niche. While typically these influencers are individuals sporting a personal brand, it’s not uncommon to see big companies with a great social media presence take over the role. They have a large volume of followers, they post frequently and engage in conversations often, and because they are seen as leaders in the industry, they can motivate people to take action and change people’s minds more easily than the typical social media user. Finding ways to reach out to these influencers and get seen beyond the white noise can be tough, but it’s more than worth it, especially if you’re an emerging brand.
When you’re first starting out on social media, your reputation is virtually nonexistent. You might have a couple hundred followers in the form of existing customers, friends, or family members, but you don’t have the perceived authority necessary to influence massive groups of people. In order to be successful on social media (and online in general), you need to build that reputation.
It’s possible to build your reputation on your own, through content marketing and patient self-promotion, but this approach takes a very long time to pull off. If, however, you can manage to get noticed by an influencer, you’ll have near-immediate visibility to a sizable portion of their following, and you’ll be perceived as something of an authority-by-proxy. Do this several times on a recurring basis with multiple influencers, and you can easily jump-start your reputation building campaign. The biggest hurdle to overcome is that initial influencer engagement, and there are six great strategies you can use to do it:
Influencers generally get to where they are by being an authority on a given topic. Because they’re socially active and proud of that authority, asking them a direct question related to their expertise is a perfect way to get noticed. First, it’s flattering—coming to them with a question means you respect their authority and you’re interested in hearing what they have to say. Second, it demands a follow-up. Rather than a simple comment (which can be valuable in other ways), a question opens the door to a bigger conversation, which can eventually turn into a working relationship.
The power of a comment is big. One comment on the right influencer’s blog can make you seem like just as big of an authority as the author. Be relevant to the original title, offer something new and insightful, and don’t hesitate to link back to your website if it’s relevant to the conversation. This will pass domain authority back to your site, and will also introduce the influencer’s audience to your brand. Do this on a semi-regular basis, and eventually both your influencer’s audience and your influencer will begin to respect you as a regular contributor to the community.
One of the best ways to get noticed by an influencer is to offer them some kind of value. Make mentioning your brand worth their time by giving them a free sample of your product or a free trial of your work. Approach them personally (that is to say, don’t use a template message that you repeat ad infinitum across the web), and ask if they’d be willing to try your product or service out. If they agree, they’ll likely post about the experience and write up a brief review if you ask them. People love to make buying decisions based on the opinions of other people, so this promises a perfect opportunity.
Keep your influencers organized in a list, and review that list daily to monitor their activity. If you see them engaged in a heated debate or a long public conversation, don’t be afraid to jump into the action. Offer supporting evidence or a different point of view, and you could get instant new visibility. Alternatively, you can search for hashtags related to your ideal conversation, and find places where these types of conversations are already occurring—this is a great strategy to find new influencers as well.
Sharing an influencer’s content is the perfect way to give an influencer direct value. Sharing their content is a show of both respect and appreciation, and they’ll like you better because of it. You’ve instantly expanded their audience (even if it is already sizable), and have shown that you’re paying attention. If you’re lucky, they might share a piece of your content in return, giving you access to a far bigger pool of potential readers. Even if they don’t you’ll get more brand recognition and some authority-by-proxy just by referencing the influencer’s social account.
Sometimes the simplest strategies are still the best. Don’t play around with some subverted attempt to get their attention—just introduce yourself! Say who you are, what you do, and why you want to talk to them. This introduction could open up a conversation that leads you to some mutually beneficial future engagement strategy. You can also look for influencers in your city, and go out of your way to meet them in person. It makes a great first impression and could be the catalyst for a great online visibility campaign.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to influencers. One word of acknowledgement from the right influencer can save you months of organic reputation building. Diversify your strategy by reaching out to many different influencers, and with enough time and persistence, you can eventually become an influencer in your own right.