Identifying Influencers, Thought Leaders and Recruiting Virtual Ambassadors
In a competitive market it can be difficult to get your message out there to an appreciative audience. This is particularly true for enterprises that have yet to fully realize their social media potential. Limited followers or lack of an engaging strategy can severely hamper your reach.
For many marketers, this raises a bit of a chicken and egg quandary. Should you invest in a social media marketing strategy without first acquiring a sizeable audience?
For those of you facing this question, I would suggest you think quality rather than quantity. A large social media following is worthless if you are not targeting it with an engaging, relevant and timely content. You should also bear in mind that a single tweet or Facebook post, picked up by the right person, can have a significant impact on your visibility and reputation.
Influencers and Thought Leaders
Every industry has a handful of highly respected influencers and thought leaders. These people have large, fully-engaged followings on social media, are plugged into the press (often influencing journalists with their comment and opinion) and have the ability to make or break brands based on who they champion and who they ignore.
Identifying high profile influencers and thought leaders is an incredibly important first step in developing a high impact social media (and wider PR) strategy.
Savvy marketers have always kept their ears to the ground and sought out these people in the hope that they may become virtual ambassadors for their brand. They can be found via social media (especially on Twitter and LinkedIn), on blogs and via the trade press, and speaking at industry events. Technology like Viralheat will help you identify the most influential based on the topics they are discussing and the size and level of engagement of their audience.
There are a number of ways you can choose to engage with these influencers and thought leaders.
Simply endorsing their opinion is a valid first step. Asking for their thoughts or advice on a topic is another (this can help stroke their egos). Sending them useful information, products to sample or review and highlighting industry trends and news can also bring them closer to your brand (useful information doesn’t have to focused on your brand).
In my experience however, there are two strategies that rarely fail. Buy them dinner (or a coffee or beer if time and money are short) or offer to pay them for their valuable support.
Paying a well-known, independent thought-leader to perhaps present a webinar, write an article or speak at an event will catapult your social media standing to new heights while providing you with valuable content that will continue to drive prospects to your brand for weeks, months and even years to come.
To find out how Viralheat can help you identify high profile influencers and thought leaders, join us for a free product demonstration every Thursday at 1pm (PST), 10am (EST), 6pm (UK).
Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee
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