Influencer marketing is the process of leveraging experts or high-profile individuals to support a brand mission by sharing content such as articles or videos created by influencers. Given the right influencer and content, if curated properly, it can have a large impact on your marketing efforts.
So, how do you find the right influencers? As the Social Media Manager at Opentopic, it's my job to find strong content to share across our social platforms. When not developing original content, I'm sourcing content from the Opentopic platform, but regardless of the way you discover your content, if you follow these simple steps for finding influencers, you'll find content you can trust. Then, see the list below of my favorite social media influencers to follow for a quick way to get started.
Begin by looking for content.
The easiest way to begin building your influencer list is during your search for content. Start by setting guidelines for quality. Make sure the article or digital media is from a credible source, relevant to your brand, and adds value for your readers. Your audience trusts you to provide them with top-of-the-line information and resources, so falling flat here would hurt you right off the bat.
Do some research on the authors.
Look deeper into who are writing the content you deem worthy. Are they journalists? Do they write on behalf of their company or organization? Most content sources have guest authors writing posts for their news sites, i.e., Huffington Post, Mashable, Inc., Social Media Today, Entrepreneur, etc. Quick tip: by clicking on authors' names, you can peruse content they've published in the past. Once you figure that out, take a moment to think: Does their expertise or industry position match your requirements? Will it speak to or engage your target audience? If so, make them go-to influencers, and keep them on your radar.
Find and follow them on Twitter.
This is an excellent platform that you can use to organize your list of industry influencers. After you've identified authors as people you trust as content sources, make sure to follow them on Twitter, and then add them to specific lists to optimize your feed. For example, make different lists with titles such as Social Media Influencers, Content Marketing Influencers, SEO Bloggers, etc. Opentopic also makes it easy to follow industry influencers, allowing you to add their Twitter, and even RSS feeds, to a "Topic," which you can then scroll through for content. Whether it's your favorite influencers or news sites, you can access them all right from one source on the Opentopic platform.
Start building relationships.
Successful influencers will have amassed a large following because they have solidified their place as an authority in their industry. For the purpose of marketing, tapping into influencers' audiences should be treated delicately. After all, it's taken them a lot of hard work and dedication to build their following. To start, try engaging in conversation online. Share their content, comment on their blog posts, or offer your own insights on an article you've enjoyed by tweeting to them. "Ask and you shall receive" is not the way building influencer relationships works. Set the foundation first, and an influencer will be more likely to share your content in return.
Here's a list of some key social media influencers I look to for industry insights. A few even tweeted to me about their position and goals as a personal brand on social:
@SteveRayson - Passionate about marketing, technology and learning. I tweet about content marketing, social analytics, elearning, SEO, start-ups.
@GerryMoran - Head of Social Media at SAP in NA, content marketer, social selling coach, builds B2B marketing programs from scratch, Springsteen & craft beer IPA geek.
@MariSmith - Forbes Top Social Media Power Influencer | Facebook Marketing Expert | Globe-trotting Speaker, Author | 'Mari like Ferrari' | Bubbly Scottish-Canadian!
Now that I've shared my methods with you, start benefitting from influencer marketing. You may be pleasantly surprised with how a little time, and effort can lead to great payoffs.