Influencers are a big deal on social media. They’re the power players we all long to be, with thousands (or millions) of followers, buzz-worthy content in full circulation, and a reputation to match all the hype. Sometimes, their popularity is driven by charisma. Other times, it’s driven by their sheer commitment to thought leadership in the industry. Usually, it’s a mix of the two—but no matter why they’re popular, what’s important is that they have influence over a significant audience. And, if you’re savvy, you can use that influence to your advantage.
Most of our goals on social media—whether that means making new contacts for potential career opportunities, selling more products for your business, or just building your reputation as an authority—can be reduced to a factor of influence. The greater your influence, the more likely you’ll be to hit your goals. Leveraging the power of existing influencers is a shortcut that can give you access to a greater circle of influence immediately, and help you build an initial audience from which you can build a more stable, long-term campaign.
In order to harness the power of influencers successfully, you’ll need to rely on these five strategies:
- Guest Posts: First up, never underestimate the power of a successful guest posting relationship. Few influencers will turn down an opportunity to extend their reach, so start things off by offering your target influencer a chance to guest post on your blog. In exchange, they’ll likely let you guest post on theirs. You’ll be sharing portions of each of your audiences, which will result in mutual growth, especially if shared and syndicated on social media after the initial publication. Plus, you’ll get some extra domain authority from the external links and brand presence, which means your ranks in search engines will increase too.
- Interviews: Interviews are one of the best forms of content around, and most influencers will jump at the chance to be interviewed. Record the interview on video so you can upload it to YouTube, or record just the audio and syndicate on your podcast. You’ll also want to publish a written transcript for the interview on your blog so you can get the SEO benefits as well. Once published, syndicate away—people will be drawn to your interview because of the star power your chosen influencer brings. Plus, your influencer will likely share the interview on his/her social channels, greatly increasing your visibility.
- Debates: Controversial issues are perfect opportunities to show off your own chops as an influencer. Controversial topics are, by nature, debatable, meaning there’s no one answer to the problem at hand, and one of their greatest benefits is the sheer number of people they draw in for discussion. If you’re looking for some extra visibility and a good chance to strike up a memorable interaction with an influencer, find a significant topic where you and your target influencer disagree. Spark a debate by offering your dissenting opinion, and show off your industry knowledge to back your opinion. It will generate visibility and interest for both of you, and might open the door to collaboration down the road.
- Share Requests: Sometimes, when you need a little extra help, the best thing to do is to ask directly for it. Most influencers are more than willing to help other people in the industry, provided it doesn’t interfere with their own interests. Take a chance—all you have to do is prepare a piece of content and ask your target influencers to share the material with their followers. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no—and if that happens, you still have the value of the content. All you’re out is the few seconds it took to type out the question.
- Audience Targeting: Finally, you can use influencers to identify valuable audience members that could add influence to your brand. For example, if you identify an influencer in your industry with 10,000 followers, you can bet that most of those 10,000 would be valuable followers if they followed and engaged with your brand. Because of this, you can selectively target influencers’ audience members for individual interactions, and build your own audience using theirs as a model.
Put these strategies to work in your social media campaign, whether you’re working on your personal brand or building the reputation of an entire company. After you’ve identified the key influencers in your industry, tapping into the power of their existing audience can often be reduced to a simple matter of building a relationship and making reasonable requests. Keep track of your progress and don’t be intimidated if you encounter influencers who don’t comply—remember, these are all individuals, and not everybody will behave according to the general rule. Stay patient, and revise your approach as necessary to continue drawing and building the greatest cumulative influence.