We’ve talked in the past about how social media presents not only an effective means of marketing to an audience, but also of marketing virally through influencers. Today we’ll look at effective ways to make the most of your hard-won viral strategies — in this case by marketing to influencers through Twitter.
For the purposes of this discussion, since you’ve likely already done your social due diligence, we won’t spend too much time on how to find the influencers you wish to reach. But here are some of the more obvious means:
- Identify the movers and shakers of your industry
- Identify who else your followers are following
- Identify who follows the influencers in your area of business
- Use tools like Followerwonk or Google Analytics
That’s just the tip of the data iceberg, though. If you’re still in the identifying-influencers stage, or just want to expand your existing list, there’s no shortage of good information on the subject.
The 4-1-1 on sharing: A golden ratio for attracting influencers
At this point, with an overall viral strategy in place and your influencers ready to target, the next step is to fine-tune your content strategy. Fortunately, there’s a useful rule of thumb to help with this: Social Media 4-1-1.
Originally coined by Brandscaping author Andrew Davis, Social Media 4-1-1 provides a useful ratio for the mix of social media content — tweets, posts, whatever — you send out as you attempt to gain greater visibility among social influencers. Here’s the basic idea:
- 4: Four out of every six of your posts should be shared content from your influencer targets (but also be relevant to your audience). By sharing content from prospective influencers, of course, you’ll be letting them know that you noticed them — and getting noticed yourself in the process.What kind of material you share is up to you — mentions of their blog, retweets, quotes from their books. If you do share quotes from books, though, you may want to consider reaching out first to double-check whether the author is okay with that.Realize, too, that if there’s a dearth of shareable content from an influencer you’ve targeted, it could signal that they’re not prolific enough or don’t really qualify as an influencer in the first place.
- 1: One out of every six of your posts should be original material you’ve created. This is the type of valuable content your audience comes to you for — and hopefully also the kind your influencer will want to pick up and share. It adheres to that fundamental best practice of providing non-promotional material that is useful to your followers.
- 1: One out of every six of your posts can be sales-related — press releases, product notices, etc. We’ve talked before about the 80/20 rule (and when it can be broken). This is one of those cases. Because you’re focusing on targeting influencers, we advise ratcheting down the promotional content to something less than the typical 20 percent.
Proactive engagement strategies for reaching influencers
The 4-1-1 sharing strategy will ideally provide a launching point for engagement with influencers, but there are other ways you can generate engagement with them too. General interactions — retweeting, replying, etc. — are the preferred way, but if your influencers haven’t provided a lot of material to make that happen, or much of their content simply isn’t right for your brand, sometimes you need to be proactive.
Here are some other approaches:
- Use Twitter chats. There’s a big list of Twitter chats out there, and if your influencer participates in any of them, it provides you almost unfettered access. Go ahead and use them to ask your influencer questions or inquire about their opinions on something — let them be a mentor for a moment, let them tell a story.You can even take the conversation offline, if the answer to a question is more than they can conveniently convey via tweet. (Of course, it’d be best if they engaged with you on Twitter as well.)
- Generate lists. People really like lists. In fact, people like lists so much that there are even lists of the best lists. But people also really love being named on lists — and since that will probably never die, making lists can be advantageous.Since you’ve taken the time to identify several influencers, create a list of them. Call it, for example, the most influential people in your industry, then let the folks listed on it know that you selected them. Not only will they, of course, be honored, but they’ll also probably share out that they were named to this list you created.A properly executed list can be a really effective way to not only let influencers know that you care about them, but to get them to interact with you and even — to a certain extent — hype your brand.
- Look for opportunities to surprise and delight. It’s as true today as it was hundreds or more years ago: People like to do business with their friends. So find a way to become a friend — or at least friendly — with the influencers you want to attract.If, for instance, they’d just tweeted about having recently gotten a puppy, you could maybe send them a puppy pack or other useful item from someplace like scoutbox.com.Taking advantage of those little opportunities to surprise and delight people will oftentimes leave them very appreciative, especially if it’s something you can deliver digitally without knowing much more about them than their email address or Twitter handle. Then it won’t feel creepy.Obviously, you have to be careful with this. Don’t be sycophantically stalking these people. (And it wouldn’t hurt to apply the Golden Rule here — “Would this be creepy if the influencer had sent this to me instead?” — or to run it by one of your social media consigliere first.)
Done right, making a friendly, genuine connection can really make a big impact and go a long way toward helping you get noticed by an influencer who might otherwise not see you in a pretty big storm of Twitter chaff.
Social media marketing and influencers: The fundamentals still apply
That mindset of keeping your eyes open for opportunities to positively surprise influencers can also serve you well in a broader sense.
You don’t necessarily have to be giving gifts in order to make an impact with followers and influencers. Simply listen, think about what they’re saying, and respond in a thoughtful and genuine manner — that’s engagement, and when done with personality it can be … well … engaging.
Whatever your tactics or strategies, never forget that at base you’re communicating with people. None of your efforts will amount to much if you’re not willing to let your hair down and have genuine human-to-human interactions. It may seem counterintuitive at times, building your brand by frequently talking about anything but your brand, but that’s part of the art and mystery of social media marketing.
And don’t give up. No matter your experience level, this type of initiative will always be a true work in progress. Who knows? With enough practice and followers, maybe you’ll become that mover and shaker everyone else tries to target.
If you’re feeling tapped out on engagement strategies, or just want a fresh set of eyes on your situation, feel free to contact our team at PR Brigade.