Want to get the right people talking about you and your business in a flattering light?
Word of mouth marketing has always been an important vehicle for getting the word out about your business. Social media opens up a range of opportunities for leveraging the power of word-of-mouth.
In every social media circle there are people who have more influence than others. Whatever niche your business is in, it’s likely there are a handful of bloggers that are highly popular and influential. There are also people who have large numbers of followers on Twitter whose tweets are retweeted with high frequency.
When one of these bloggers or Tweeters mentions your company or links to your website, the impact can be tremendous (positive or negative). Understanding and identifying who the influential people are in your niche is important. And it’s equally important to understand how to reach out them to build relationships that will benefit your business. It’s also important to understand what NOT to do.
In this article, I’ve pulled together resources, tips and advice that can help you identify influential bloggers and other social media users and develop strategies to engage your targeted influencers in ways that will help you achieve your objectives. I’ve included a special section on Blogger outreach and relations as well. Finally, there’s a section on tools and lists to help you in your efforts.
Identifying, Targeting and Courting Key Influencers
- Influencer Handbook
From WOMMA: Guide created by the WOMMA Influencer Council that to provide practitioners with the following information: • Definition of an influencer and influencer marketing • Types of influencers • Methods to engage and thank influencers • Guidelines for influencer self-regulation • Bibliography of influencer communication research and practice.
- The Value of Influencers: Why They Are Still Relevant for Marketing Campaigns
From Dosh Dosh: Discussion of how influencers are still critical to your marketing campaigns in helping to develop trust and visibility for brands.
- A Poor Man’s Guide to Finding Influencers
From The Buzz Bin: Good article from Mike Nelson on how to identify and engage top influencers within your community of interest online. It starts with finding the right keywords. For more on growing you network see our post Ultimate How To Grow Your Social Media Network.
- Courting Online Influencers
From Paul Gillin Communications: After you’ve identified people to engage with, you need to craft an approach and an incentive that’s right for them. Here Paul author of The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media offers some suggestions.
- Thoughts On The Influencer Audience
From The Future Buzz: Adam Singer shares why targeting influencers is important and how to be successful in doing so.
- What Makes a Great Evangelist
From SmartBlog: Advice from Andy Sernovitz on what to look for when identifying people who can be an evangelist for your message. Also see Andy’s book: Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, Revised Edition
- Making Word of Mouth Marketing Work: Finding the Influencers
From MyCustomer.com: Insights on figuring out where can you find the small group of influential customers that will facilitate word of mouth campaigns – and how you can get them to shout about your business. (Requires free registration).
- Where To Find Social Media Power Users
From Search Engine Land: Gregg Finn provides a good resource to find all of those top social users that people continually speak about so you can find related power users on the social site of your choice – including Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc.
- Find Out the Most Influential Users on Twitter with the ReTweetability Index
From Mashable: Jennifer Van Grove reviews Dan Zarrella’s ReTweetability Index. The ReTweetability Index isn’t just a list showing the top Twitterers or the ones with the most retweets, but a formula carefully researched to better get at the most retweetable and influential users.
- How-To: Identifying Influencers, Neutralizing Detractors
From MarketingVOX: The attention of influencers is coveted because of their mythological ability to drive others to a given brand, whether by force of personality or strong subject knowledge. But “influencers” are not a single silver-bullet demographic. Depending on the product or service a company hopes to sell, the appropriate circle of influencers can vary. Here are some tips on locating your influencers.
- How To Engage Influential Talkers
From SmartBlog On Social Media: Andy Sernovitz’s three simple steps to engaging influential people: 1) Make a list 2) Use multiple channels to contact them and 3) Ask. Also see Andy’s book: Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, Revised Edition
- 5 Ways to Use Social Media to Find B2B Influencers
From Hubspot: Advice on finding key influencers on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Bloggers, Niche Social Networks along with tips on using the available tools available for each type of social media vehicle to connect with them.
- How to Influence Powerful Social Media Users for Traffic and Attention
From DoshDosh: Advice for targeting and influencing those social media users – the mavens and connectors- who can help grow your traffic and brand.
- Getting People to Talk Behind Your Back
From chrisbrogan.com: Guest post by Josh Peter on how to get the influencers in your relevant community to spread the message about your business.
- HOW TO: Measure Online Influence
From Mashable: Micah Baldwin takes a look at how someone becomes influential and what are the metrics for measuring their influence.
- Finding and Engaging Your Brand Evangels on Facebook – Left The Box
From Left The Box: A technique for easily finding people that are already publicizing your brand to their friends on Facebook.
- Your Weakest Links Might Just Become Your Strongest Chain
From Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog: Beth Harte provides a different take – the benefits of targeting less influential people vs. more influential types and why the “weakest links” may be your strongest chain.
- How To Win Facebook Fans And Reach Influencers
From Allfacebook.com: Advice for targeting and reaching out to influencers via Facebook.
Blogger Outreach and Relations
- 10 Steps to Building a Better Blogger-Relations Program
From Brian Solis: Helpful tips on how to approach blogger relations. Advice ranges from “being knowledgeable, transparent, honest and trustworthy” to “less is more – focus on quality relationships” and much more. For more see Brian’s e-book for Kindle: The Art and Science of Blogger Relations
- How to Suck Up to a Blogger
From Guy Kawaski: Guy’s terrific advice on the process of cultivating the most influential bloggers from “creating a great product” to “linking to the blogger’s blog” to “stroking them” to “making connections before you need them” and more.
- The Ogilvy PR Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics
From the Ogilvy PR Blog: Some basic tenets of blogger outreach that the Ogilvy PR abides by when contacting bloggers on behalf of their clients.
- How To Influence ME
From Chris Brogan: Commonsense advice (which apparently isn’t common enough) from Chris on how to make a good impression with him – from “remembering he’s human” to “being brief” and more. Also see Chris’ book: Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust
- BLOGGER RELATIONS CASE STUDIES
From New Communications Review: Winning case studies of Blogger Relations Outreach programs from Molson, Zarafina, Graco, Kona Blue and others.
- Comparing Six Ways to Identify Top Blogs in Any Niche
From ReadWriteWeb: How then can you identify the top blogs in a particular niche field? There are paid services you can use to identify influencers online but they are expensive and not appropriate for quick hits in a new topic. Here’s a comparison of the pros and cons of six different options that are fast and free.
- Blogger Outreach – How Not To Do It
From Beth Kanter: Solid advice about how to NOT to pitch bloggers to write about your organization, product, service, or events. One tip: Don’t have your office intern send out canned pitches, get to know the bloggers first.
- HOW TO Pitch: Mashable
From PR Sarah Evans: First in a series of interviews with top bloggers on the best way for public relations professionals to pitch them and increase chances of story(ies) being picked up. First interview is with Adam Ostrow, Editor in Chief, Mashable.
- 5 Things You SHOULDN’T Do When Approaching Bloggers
From Daily Blog Tips: Rundown of things that you shouldn’t do when approaching bloggers for your networking efforts – from “asking for a link to your blog, article or service” to “declaring that their audience will be interested in your service” to “proposing a link exchange out of the blue” and more.
- Best Practices for Blogger Relations Tip Sheet
From the Society for New Communications Research: A “Best Practices for Blogger Relations” Tip Sheet with tips such as “doing your research to understand the blogger and focus on his/her interests” to “forgetting about the A-list and find your A-list” and more. Complete tip sheet is available to SNCR members free of charge. It is also available to non-members for a $25 donation to the Society.
- How You Might View Bloggers
From Chris Brogan: Advice on how to conduct a blogger outreach campaign directed at key influencers. Also see Chris’ book: Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust
- Can Companies Engage Independent Bloggers? Ask @RealLifeSarah
From Hubspot: In this video, blogger Sarah Pinnix addresses the question of what marketers can do to get bloggers talking about their products.
- So How DO You Pitch a Blogger?
From Search Engine Blog: Blogger Matt Collier provides advice on how and how not to pitch him on your company, product and/or service – from “referring to him by name” to “NOT simply sending a press release” to “actually reading his blog before pitching him” and more.
- How to Get a Blogger to Promote Your Product
From Lifehack: Advice on what to do and what not to do when approaching influential bloggers in your niche. From “doing your research first” to “taking bloggers seriously,” this post provides solid tips on how to handle your blogger outreach.
- The Very Basics of Blogger Outreach
From Social Mallard: Basic advice on pitching bloggers from “building the right list” to “not forgetting about niche blogs in favor of the big fish” to “researching who the bloggers really are” and more.
- 11 Things You Need To Know When Pitching to Bloggers
From Blank Canvas: Pat Law outlines 11 things to keep in mind when pitching your company, product, service, ideas, etc. to bloggers- from “finding out who their readers are” to “joining them online (subscribe to their RSS feeds, connect with them on Twitter)” to “joining them offline” and more.
- How to Keep Bloggers from Hating You
From IdeasOnIdeas: Nice list of tips on how you can build links with people who blog without practices the bad behaviors that might alienate them from “taking the time to get to know those you contact” to “respecting people’s choices even if they say no” to “thanking people who take the time to write something on your behalf” and more.
- 10 Tips for a Successful Blogger Outreach Campaign
From The Caffeinated Blog: Advice on what to do to catch the attention of influential bloggers. Includes tips on identifying the right blogs, persuading the blogger that his/her audience is interested in your product/service, to being honest in how you represent yourself, being prepared to deal with negative feedback and more.
- Attention PR People: Here’s How To Pitch A Writer
From Six Pixels of Separation: Mitch Joel includes 9 simple rules for pitching a writer from “personalizing your message” to “never sending attachments” to “not following up if you don’t hear back” and more.
- 20 Tips for Pitching Bloggers
From The Future Buzz: Adam Singer offers up a nice long list of tips for pitching bloggers from “offer a freebie” to “offer exclusivity” to “subscribing to their blog” to “commenting on their blog” and more.
- Journalists’ Blogs Offer Valuable Clues About How to Pitch Them
From The Publicity Hound’s Blog: Joan Stewart offers advice on how to mine journalists’ blogs, twitter pages and more to uncover clues on how to target your pitches to them.
- How to Launch a Successful Blogger Outreach Program in One Day
From The Viral Garden: Hour-by-hour step-by-step process for putting together a blogger outreach program. Key part of the process is creating a list of at least 20 bloggers who are talking about your company and posting comments on their blogs in response to their posts that reference our company.
- For advice on Mommy Bloggers:
- 7 Things Mom Bloggers Want To Say To PR People
From Influential Marketing Blog: Rohit Bhargava shares the top 7 things he’s gleaned from conversations with mom bloggers that most of them want PR people to know – from “get to know me” to “stop asking for free coverage” to”remember I have kids” to “don’t tell me what to write” and more.
- Some Advice on Reaching Out to Mommy Bloggers
From Media Bullseye: Susan Getgood talks about who mommy bloggers are and offers up some tips for connecting with them effectively including advice on how to find the ones who will be interested in what you have to offer.
- 7 Things Mom Bloggers Want To Say To PR People
Tools and Lists
Fantastic must-have resource for identifying top blogs/bloggers in any niche.
- Traackr Helps Marketers Find Influential Voices Online
From Mashable: Review of Traackr’s Online Authority List product that makes it easier for PR folks, brand managers, and marketers to easily identify the top online influential voices — tracking reach, resonance, and relevance — around their specific campaign initiatives.
- The Twitalyzer for Tracking Influence and Measuring Success in Twitter
Twitalyzer is a unique tool to evaluate the activity of any Twitter user and report on relative influence, signal-to-noise ratio, generosity, velocity, clout, and other useful measures of success in social media.
- TwitterCounter – Top Tweeters
Top 100 most-followered Twitter Users
- Twinfluence – Twitter Influence Analyzer
TwInfluence allows you to measure Twitter influencers, not just by followers, but also by reach, velocity, social capital and centralization. It also publicly ranks the top 50 influencers in each category. This is an important tool for identifying the tastemakers that you don’t already know in the Twitterverse.
- TopLinked People on LinkedIn
Listing of the top (by numbers of connections) LinkedIn networkers and their number of connections.
- Retweetist – Users
Updated list of the Top 50 Most Retweeted Users.
- 50 Most Influential Powerful Women in Social Media
Form Immediate Influence Blog: List of 50 of the most powerful and influential women in Social Media with links to their websites.
- 50 Most Powerful and Influential Men in Social Media
From Immediate Influence Blog: A list of the 50 Most Powerful & Influential Men in Social Media:
- Social Media Power Users And Influencers: Part 1
Finally, if you’d like a contrarian opion on this, read this Brand Week interview with Columbia University professor Duncan Watts who argues that influencers aren’t really all that important. Do you agree?