The 4 Simple Steps to Connecting with Industry Experts
June 27, 2016
June 27, 2016
You have a B2B or B2C business that is starting to pick up, but to see a real breakthrough you’re looking for more traffic. You’re not quite ready to go headlong into an ad campaign, and don’t have the technical know-how or budget to do SEO properly, but know you can handle the additional customers. You just need the traffic. Well, if you have time, you can easily grow your audience and your customer base with the help of a recommendation from an industry influencer.
You might be thinking: “Wait, what? How is an industry influencer going to recommend my product, and how will it help?”
Recommendations go a long way, and a lot of people trust what experts have to say. In fact, a recommendation coming from an industry influencer is 4 times more valuable than a web lead, according to incentivefox. This has actually become an income source for industry influencers and celebrities alike.
Take Kendall Jenner for example, who gets paid anywhere from $125,000 to $300,000 per post. Yes, those numbers are insane, but you can get lesser-known influencers, relevant to your industry to promote your product for as little as $60 per post. If you have the cash to spend and think this method will be a good fit for your product, there are influencers who are less costly, but can still provide you the needed boost.
So, it’s clear that getting a “shout out” can help your brand. For those not willing to spend any money, don’t worry, you still can achieve great results from simply dedicating a little bit of elbow grease and time.
Here are 4 steps to getting industry influencers promoting your product for free.
1. Find the right influencer
As you explore industry experts in your space, you’ll quickly realize there are different types of influencers, and not all of them will be the right fit for you. To simplify things, let’s break it down into two categories.
High number of followers, low credibility.
You’ll find numerous people with hundreds of thousands of followers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be a good fit or even have a tremendous amount of influence with those followers. Sure, you can get more eyes on your brand, but this approach is more quantity over quality.
Low number of followers, high credibility.
Don’t get me wrong. When I say a low number of followers, this is in comparison to those that have high 6 figures and even into the millions. In comparison 20-50,000 seems like a low number, but often these followers really trust and value what the influencer has to say. This is the type of influencer whose attention you should be trying to obtain. Quality beats quantity any day of the week.
Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to start seeking actual influencers.
The internet is a big place, and it’s easy to become lost in the social media black hole. Luckily, there are nifty tools available to keep you focused to assist in finding exactly the most appropriate influencers.
Tools To Find Industry Influencers
Buzzsumo: This is an amazing tool for finding the best influencers and topics for certain keywords. Just type in your keyword, click the influencers button and voila. In this example, I searched for marketing and got 10 examples from the free version of the app.
Klout: This is another great tool to learn how much credibility or Klout certain influencers have. Obviously the better someone’s Klout score, the more influence they have. Using this in conjunction with Buzzsumo should be all you need to find the perfect industry influencer to help grow your business.
2. Do your research
Anyone can simply reach out to a celebrity or industry expert online, and lots of people do every single day. However, if you want this plan to actually work for your business, you’ll need to put in work up front and perform guerilla surveillance to find out as much as you can about them to help make a meaningful connection.
Your goal is to learn as much as you can about your chosen expert(s) so you can engage them in a meaningful discussion, and talk about topics you know they love. Some key things to note include:
- What social platform they spend the most time on?
- What their blog is and how often they publish posts?
- What do they value?
- What hobbies do they have?
- Where do they connect with people?
- What city are they in?
The more you know about your target, the better chance you have of making a meaningful connection. With anything in life, you need to be prepared before making a move. Doing this advance work will also save you time. If your target is the most active on their blog, you won’t waste your time tracking their Twitter or Instagram feeds.
Of course, email is best, the most personal way to reach out to someone; however, for obvious reasons, you most likely don’t have access to their email. Using the Google Chrome plugin Rapportive is a great way to quickly obtain a lot of info about someone, and maybe even their email address, all from within the comfort of your own Gmail account … simply start typing a name and see what appears.
3. Get close
Catching someone’s attention is as easy as shooting over a quick tweet; however, to make it work and to do it right, you need to plan it out and be methodical. Here’s how to do it the proper way….
Start by following them on whatever social networks they belong. There are those, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, that have added benefits. Here are helpful insider tips revealing how you should approach each channel.
On Twitter, you can like, follow and connect with anyone you want.
- Follow them
- Read, favorite and retweet posts you like
- Ask thoughtful questions
- Mention them in relevant posts
Instagram is similar to Twitter, in that you are not restricted to who you can choose to follow.
- Favorite some posts
- Like and share his/her posts
- Tag him/her in relevant posts
LinkedIn is somewhat different from the rest. If you’re not directly in contact or share any mutual friends, it can be difficult to reach out to an influencer out of the blue. Start by joining any groups in which they are members. This will then allow you to send a connect request since you now share a mutual interest.
- Join a group
- Send connect request
- Use flattery and reference something specific
Just like Instagram and Twitter, you aren’t limited to whom you can send a friend request. But similar to LinkedIn, joining groups your influencer is a member of is a great way to set the stage for success.
- Join groups they are members of
- Send a friend request
- Like, share, and comment on their posts
Blogs are more personal than social media and give you nearly a direct line to your influencer. To see if your influencer has a blog, use www.blogsearchengine.org.
- Subscribe to his/her mailing list
- Learn when he/she publishes posts
- Like, share and leave meaningful comments
- Reply to blog posts asking questions
Any of these channels are a good place to start. If you’re certain the influencer you’ve identified is the one you want, you can try doing all 5 at the same time; however, be careful when doing this, because it will get their attention, so you better have a plan ready, and that’s what we’ll dive into in the next section.
4. Make your move
Ok, so you could have their attention at this point, have done your research, and are ready to make your move. Here are some tips for doing it right.
Ideally, email would be the most intimate method of contact, but if you don’t have his/her address, you’ll need to engage with what you actually have.
If you’ve already started engaging with them by posting meaningful comments, liking their posts and retweeting/sharing, then you can make your move. The following tactics will work no matter what channel you choose to engage with….
Flattery: Everyone loves some flattery, but be careful not to lay it on too heavy. Use the research you did to reference something specific he/she has done that you like. If you can link it to a throwback Thursday #tbt or other hashtags, it could have a better chance of getting their attention.
Ask a thoughtful question: Influencers like discussing their field of expertise, and are likely asked the same questions over and over. So, stand out by asking a well informed, specific question worth asking. Don’t ask for their general opinion on something, but rather be as specific as you can.
Make it worthwhile for them: The way to get the most is to give the most. It can’t be all about you. Make sure you’re framing your ask in a way that is mutually beneficial. If you have a new app or product, you could ask them for their feedback about it because you’ve been following what they’ve done before and based your app on something that is a connection to them.
Their time is valuable: Always make it clear you understand their time is valuable, and cut to the chase. Keep any direct messages or correspondence as short and sweet as possible. If you’re describing your product, keep the explanation under two sentences in length. Be concise.
Remember, they’re human too, and just like you, they’re probably quite busy. When sending that first message reaching out, you need to mentally prepare to not hear back. Expect the worst, and hope for the best, and don’t get offended if they don’t reply. If you don’t hear back, try sending another in approximately 7 days.
Influencers are a great way to place your brand in front of a large number of people and potential customers, but how they can really help is by boosting your reputation, and spread the word out there about your product or service.
It takes time and real work to do it properly, but the benefits and possible friendships that can be formed far outweigh the risks. Remember, everyone is looking out for themselves, so make sure you provide value and give a lot before you ask for something.