It can be tough to get traction when you’re first starting out in social media. You can share awesome content and write compelling posts, published at the ideal times, but if you can’t get them in front of enough eyeballs, all of your hard work can just fizzle out.
The problem is that in the beginning, you don’t have a large or engaged audience, so you rarely reach enough people. The solution is to catch the attention of an influencer—someone in your industry who already has a large and engaged audience, and get them to share your content. But that’s often easier said than done.
Today, I’m going to change that by sharing a simple, step by step framework to get their attention and encourage them to share your content, which will help you become an influencer too.
Keep in mind, when I say “simple,” I mean it’s not complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s still going to take a fair amount of time and a lot of hard work, but that’s the case with anything that’s worth doing. The most important thing you need to remember during this entire process is to add value with every interaction.
Step #1: Create a list of influencers
Planning is essential because a little effort preparing will save you a ton of work over the course of this campaign, so start by putting the influencers you want to engage with into a list. You can use this Google Sheet as a starting point. You’ll want to include, at a minimum, their blog and two social media channels.
Don’t just look at the size of their audience, though. Select influencers who are relevant to your goals and who share views similar to yours.
Step #2: Follow their media channels
Next, you’ll keep an eye on all of the content they produce.
Subscribe to their newsletter. This might give you their primary email address, but even if it doesn’t, it will at least give you an email address that they or an assistant check. (The email they check is probably not the same one the newsletter is sent from, but it will usually be listed in the email somewhere.) If nothing else, it will give you a lot of insight into what motivates them.
Follow all of their profiles on social networks that you regularly use, even if they don’t follow you back. And at this stage, they probably won’t. This includes:
- Google Plus
Don’t bother creating profiles on social networks that you don’t already use regularly because a brand new profile with few or no posts will look spammy or creepy. (Or both.)
Finally, subscribe to their blog feed. The easiest way to do this is with RSS Feed Reader extension for Chrome.
Step #3: Keep them on your radar
Set up Google News Alerts for both the name of the person and their company with the following settings:
This will ensure that you get a notification as soon Google finds something, giving you the best opportunity to engage with the that influencer about it before others do.
Step #4: Let’s get to work!
Schedule time to engage with the influencers on your list once each day. More than that and you’ll likely give off that creepy stalker vibe. Ideally, when they are most active.
Open the Google Sheet and click the links you compiled to each social profile in the list you compiled. Your goal is to engage with each person on your list by posting useful and relevant comments on their social posts. Don’t force it, though. You won’t impress anyone with an empty “Great post!” comment, and if they see a string of comments like that, they’ll quickly tune you out.
Next, monitor their blog for new posts. If you’re using the RSS Feed Reader extension for Chrome that I mentioned earlier, you’ll see a notification in the top right corner of your browser. (I circled it in red.)
As soon as they publish a new blog post, try to be one of the first to comment on it. Just like on the social posts, it needs to be useful and relevant. Then share it on social media, and if possible, tag them.
If it’s relevant, you can also link to their blog posts from your own and tag them when you share it on social media. Anytime you do that, be sure to drop them a short email telling them specifically what you found valuable about their post and that you linked to it in your new post. Don’t forget to include a link to your post in your email so they can quickly and easily find it. (If their website runs on WordPress, and most do, they will even receive a notification in their dashboard when you link to them.)
When you receive their email newsletter, if you spot a relevant opportunity, reply to it.
Along the way, you’re also on the lookout for any mention of them on other websites, which is where the Google News Alerts will come in. When any of the influencers you set up a News Alert for are mentioned, Google will send you an email. That’s your opportunity to share a link to that page on social media and tag the person it’s about.
Wash, rinse, repeat
Once you’ve established a relationship with the influencers on your list, you can compile a new list and start this process over.
It’s important to point out that you should not view the influencers on your list as a conquest. While you do want them to engage with you and share your content, if that is your only goal, don’t waste their time or your own. People will realize you’re using them, which will cause long-term damage to both your personal and company’s reputation.