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10 Steps to Finding the Influencers in Your Market

Why is an influencer strategy so important?

1. It can help drive your social media execution.
2. It can be a core part of your search engine optimization strategy.
3. Ultimately, if done correctly, it will drive sales and position your organization as one of the leading experts in the field.

There is no right way to developing and cultivating relationships with the influencers in your industry, but here are 10 steps to get you started in the right direction.

Step 1: Create your buyer persona

Have a clear understanding of who you are trying to attract to your website and what you ultimately want them to do. Here are some key articles on helping you with your buyer persona.

Step 2: Keyword Hit List

Identify your hit list of two-to-four word keyword phrases. These are phrases that your buyer searches for to solve their pain points.

Tools that will help:

Big Tip:

  1. Keep the top 20 keyword searches per persona with your product marketing people at all time.  Have them print it out and put it into their cubicle/work space. Understanding how your personas search is a great first step to understanding your buyer personas.
  2. Talk to salespeople to confirm the list.
  3. Talk to customers to get a feel for whether your list is correct.
  4. Feel free to use a simple survey tool like Zoomerang or Survey Monkey to assess what your customers say.

Step 3: Listening Posts

Set up your listening posts around those keywords. Listening posts have been used for years by publishers and journalists to identify the needs and challenges in a market.  We need listening posts now more than ever.

Tools that will help:

Big Tip:

Give someone in your organization the responsibility to own the listening process (i.e., Kodak has hired a Chief Listening Officer).

Step 4: Who’s Covering the Market?

By listening to those keywords, identify those people that consistently “cover” your market through posting blog content, news content, article content or tweets/facebook posts.

Tools that will help:

  • iGoogle – Keep an RSS feed of influencers.
  • Hootsuite – Social Media distribution and organization tool
  • – ditto.
  • Klout – identifies influencers across a number of topics.

Step 5: Rank your list of influencers

Find a manageable number for your chief listening officer to handle.  This could be 10, 20 or even fifty.  Our number is 42.

Tools that will help:

  1. Klout – rank your influencer list.
  2. Twitalyzer – find out who influencers really are and where they live.
  3. Flowtown – find detailed information about your influencers, including their social media identities, emails and more. Also a great tool for mining customer data.

Step 6: Begin to interact with your influencers

  1. Follow influencers on Twitter and like them on Facebook. Connect with them on LinkedIn.
  2. Retweet their posts on Twitter and share their content on Facebook and LinkedIn.
  3. Read their posts and begin to comment with helpful information (not sales) after you understand their perspective.

Step 7: Be an influencer helper

Help your influencers with content/guest blogging. It’s important that this happens AFTER they know who you are.

Influencers are always looking for help with their content, but you have to prove your worth first. Best practice is to wait about three months after you get onto the scene. This is much harder if you don’t have a blog (they will check you out first).

Step 8: Develop a community project

Here are some samples where we have involved our influencers into our content…ultimately giving them promotion (they like this) and strengthening your relationships with them.

  • Content Marketing Playbook – we integrated over 50 case studies into this playbook, many coming from influencers and customers (and we gave them a link and credit).
  • Junta42 Top Content Marketing Blogs – maybe our biggest hit. We created a ranking system for identifying influencers through this blog list.  You can do this for your industry. We update this list every quarter.
  • Annual Content Marketing Predictions – we produce a blog and an ebook that highlights our influencers and positions them as thought leaders.
  • Content Marketing Institute – CMI was started as an group influencer blog.  What can you create?

Step 9: Give influencers the tools to share your project

Once you put all this work into creating these valuable influencer projects, make sure to get the most out of it.

  • Create badges like we do for our Top Blogs so influencers can promote their association with you and their status (you also get a link back).
  • Develop templated press releases for influencers to use and share.
  • Update your influencers with relevant emails on a regular basis so they know the “inside dirt”.

Step 10: Create the Influencer Dashboard

Counting helps justify the impact of the program. You need to measure.  Here are some key benchmarks so you can see progress.

Big Tip:

No need to get complicated. These can be easily tracked in an excel spreadsheet if you don’t have a fancy dashboard. Keep the list updated monthly if possible to keep your team (and your influencer strategy) motivated.

Good Luck!