Finding and Following Influencers
Last year, I wrote a post about finding and following Influencers.
The Word of Mouth Marketing Association defines an Influencer as ” individuals who have greater than average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace.”
In that post, I was referring to the top Influencers like the Major Bloggers in your industry. The ones who are always speaking at the big conferences and get a thousand Likes when they post up a video of tiny hamsters eating burritos (if you haven’t seen that yet, check this out on YouTube. It’s so cute!).
Those people are great to connect with in social media and if you get to know them on a personal level, they can certainly help you share your marketing messages.
But today, I want to talk about your Community Influencers – the people who are fans of your company. These are the people who talk about your products or services because they’ve had a positive experience and want to share it with their social world.
I want to share with you about how you can connect with your Community Influencers online. Not in a creepy weird stalker kind of way but more of a ‘watch what they post’ and ‘listen to what they’re sharing.’
When you post marketing content that connects with them, these are the people who will share it with their social networks.
They’ll help spread your messages because they’re more than just fans. They’re the ones who will be out in the world promoting your services and telling others that they can trust your company.
How do you start to make real connections?
Social Media is about well … being social!
Quite honestly, LinkedIn is the only place on social media where it’s acceptable to be totally and completely professional. When you appear too professional, your fans perceive this imaginary wall around you which makes it harder for them to get to know you.
And if they don’t know you, how can they trust you? Because when it comes right down to it, people do business with people that they know and trust.
Think about how you can start to share more of your personal life. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not asking you to use your Facebook fan page posts as your personal journal but find ways to start sharing your personal story.
Can you share something funny that happened to you over the weekend? Or what about the time you figured something out when you attended a local workshop? Sharing stories like this shows our human side.
And chances are, someone has been there, done that and laughed about it too. Then they’ll click a Like button or take the time to make a comment to share their story.
And that’s how it starts when we make a real connection.
How to build trust
One of the best ways to build trust is to teach your fans something valuable. Sometimes small business owners think they need to hold their secrets close to them or someone else will steal their ideas.
You know what? With the interwebs and all those search engines out there, we can look up how to do just about anything so why not let them learn this stuff from you?
Share with your fans what you’re passionate about. Teach them what you know and how you can save them time, money or both.
Think about something you can share that makes you, YOU. The kind of thing that if they were to see you in person talking about this topic, they’d see the shine in your eyes and hear the excitement in your voice.
To give you a place to start, let’s walk through some Getting Connected exercises:
Think about how you can begin to create your own conversations. Try to do one of these suggestions once a week and see what kind of connections unfold.
1. Ask a question that requires more than a yes or no answer on your Facebook fan page or in one of your tweets.
If you do use Twitter for your questions, make sure you use a good hashtag (a keyword with the # symbol like #smallbusiness or use a # in front of the type of business you own) so people who aren’t connected to you but are following that topic can find your questions in a search.
2. Make a list of Community Influencers who comment and share your information. Take the time to see who has a blog site or a Facebook fan page.
Join in on the discussions on their sites. Conversations can go both ways – you can start them on your sites and participate on other people’s social networks.
I’ve personally made some good friends from just commenting on someone else’s blog. Now we email each other with questions and support each other by helping to promote our latest projects.
3. What interests you outside of what you do in your business? Find a Facebook group, LinkedIn group or a blogging network where you can talk about your passion with people who share your excitement.
Think about how you can connect with people in these communities. You already have the common interest, why not direct message someone to take your connection to the next level?
When you move past the idea of just trying to make your next big sale, that’s where the magic happens. You open yourself up to learning about what resonates with your audience and what matters most to them.
You learn to talk less and listen more.
Your connections become more than just being the loudest person in the social media room broadcasting your product’s coolest thing. It becomes about creating those moments where you can be heard.
Photo credit: Social
PS If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your social media marketing, download your FREE copy of my 10 Social Media Time Management Strategies ebook. This post is one of the time management strategies that you’ll get to help you create a social media routine that works with your crazy busy world.