Any blog needs to increase its visibility in order to become an influential and trustworthy source. To achieve this goal, time, dedication and a methodic approach is needed to identify relevant influencers. Influencers can help raising awareness about your blog and increasing its traffic and credibility. Listening to influencers and building a good relationship with them is important too. You will be appreciated by them, which will in turn will increase your blog’s influence.
How does your blog become influential?
Colleen Jones’ describes in her book “Clout – the Art and Science of influential web content” how digital content becomes influential in three phases:
“1. Raise awareness
2. Become liked and trusted
3. Motivate, inspire, and help action.” (Jones, 2011)
Especially in the “Raise awareness” phase, the right influencers can help a recently launched blog gain visibility and transition to phase 2 and 3.
Brian Solis, Social media thought leader and author of “Engage!”, defines influence as “the ability to cause desirable and measurable actions and outcomes.” Hence influencers will have to cause the following desirable outcomes for your blog:
- Attract new followers;
- help to spread the word about the your blog;
- increase traffic;
- facilitate a higher participation;
- help your blog’s overall growth in terms of reputation.
How do you find influencers and become friends with them?
After defining the audience, setting the blog’s long term goal, identifying the influencers’ characteristics, it is possible to identify a list of influencers. For your blog it is desirable to connect with influencers who are recognized within your industry (for this post we use the example of “Social Media Marketing” as area of interest).
Russ Henneberry from the “Social Media Examiner” blog provides a four step approach on how to identify an influencers’ short list and how to “develop a positive relationship” with the influencers. The recommended steps are (steps 2 and 3 can be repeated in a recurring process in order to refine and improve the list):
- “Identify an initial “seed list of influencers”: Determine a first list from 10 to 20 influencers. A list of influencers can be found for example on blogs and on social networks with a strong focus on key words like Social Media, Content Management Strategies, Social Media Marketing, etc. You can make an initial research also on influence measurement tools like Klout or Peer Index, search in focus groups on LinkedIn or on Twitter.
- “Monitor and listen to influencers on the initial list”: Tools like Google Reader, Twitter Lists, and HootSuite can help to listen and analyze influencers’ conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The setup of a centralized monitoring tool like HootSuite, can also help to manage the relationship and the interactions with the targeted influencers. This activity helps to understand if the influencers are relevant for your blog’s goal.
- “Continuously refine the initial list”: The analysis of the conversation in step 2 provides some rationale to modify and shorten the initial influencers’ list. In this phase it is possible to discover new influencers that are a better fit with your goals. The refined and shortened list will have to be reprocessed in step 2. Steps 2 and 3 are repeated until a first list of relevant influencers has been identified (depending on your goal).
- “Start building a relationship with the short list”: Building a positive relationship with the influencers in the short list requires listening skills, perseverance and diligence. Keep listenting and monitoring your influencers’ conversations (as described in step 2), and contribute to the influencers’ blogs with comments and shares. Promoting influencers’ content, publishing knowledgeable content, or connecting with them in discussion groups and forums increases the chance to be noticed by the influencers and to receive a direct feedback (email, tweet, comment, etc.) from them.
As with friends, establishing a long term relationship with influencers takes time and dedication. Think of it as a mutual relationship: if you care for them and their content, they will care for you and your blog. So, what are you waiting for? Have you started to make your influencers’ list?