It wasn’t too long ago that the predominant methods for finding new online audiences were SEO and paid advertising. While these methods are still popular, it is now fairly common for small businesses to promote themselves using personality. A business owner, or perhaps a brand champion, will market themselves as an expert or influencer, drawing together audiences looking for cutting-edge information. For anyone looking for a route to these audiences, connecting with other influencers lets you build your audience, putting your content in front of the exact people who will respond to it. Connecting with influencers is not completely straightforward, though, so you must have a strategy in place for achieving your goals.
Find the Biggest Industry Names
If you have been active in a niche, most of the biggest industry names will be known to you. There are usually a small number of popular bloggers, product creators, and social media personalities that are associated with a particular topic and have large followings. If you are unaware of the major personalities, search on Twitter and Facebook for the popular accounts, use Google to find authority sites, and check Amazon for bestselling books. The biggest names can be hard to reach, but they can be part of a long-term strategy.
Uncover People Who Have a Following
Many of the biggest names could be inaccessible, but plenty of influencers with audiences will be open to networking. While these influencers might not be as widely known, they typically have respectable blog and social media followings, with the ability to reach your target audience and drive traffic. A site like Alltop can be used to find popular niche blogs, while advanced Twitter and Facebook searches should reveal a number of popular pages. Search YouTube for popular videos, browse iTunes for niche podcasts, and use your main keywords to search on Google News.
Use the Best Software Tools
Manual research can reveal a lot of valuable information, but there are various tools that can look deeper in a short amount of time. BuzzSumo is a tool that can search through blogs, social media, videos, images, and other platforms, providing analysis of the total number of social shares each piece of content received. Traackr is dedicated to finding the best influencers in your industry and allowing you to connect with them. Followerwonk is a free tool by Moz that is specific to Twitter. Sprout Social is a popular social media dashboard, but it also lets you find and track potential networking partners. There are also many other tools available, often focusing on particular platforms like Instagram or Facebook.
Reach Out to Your Targets
After collecting the necessary networking opportunities, the next stage is to reach out to people. Your aim is to build long-term relationships, so you should look for ways to be useful to any influencer. You could offer a guest post for their blog, ask them to be included in an article or profile, or interview them for a podcast. Providing them with promotional opportunities will usually get better results than asking them to promote you directly. Also, try to initiate some contact before you email, possibly with brief communication on Twitter or a blog comment. You probably won’t get responses from every influencer, but the aim is to develop some effective alliances. Tools like GroupHigh and Ninja Outreach help you find outreach opportunities and email them from the same product.
Prominent influencers are used to networking and discovering like-minded business owners looking to build their audiences. Many people are reluctant to reach out to others with large audiences, because they’re concerned that they are not bringing enough to the table. There will inevitably be rejection as you seek to connect with influencers, but a few strategic alliances can be all it takes to radically improve your business. When you can provide something of value to an influencer, show you are someone worth knowing, and deliver what you promise, you should have no problem building strong relationships that introduce you to a whole new audience.
Originally published 03/16/17.