Who are your industry’s influencers?By Whitney Zelmer on January 4th, 2017 | Reading time: 2 minutes
As a communications professional, having an effective engagement strategy means going beyond simply building relationships with key journalists. Although you still want to grab the attention of these individuals – because journalists continue to be some of the most impactful influencers around – you must also find and engage other authorities to effectively share your message.
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What is an influencer?
Influencers have not only developed a distinct voice in a specific industry, but have also built up a strong network of dedicated followers. People value their opinion and will even base decisions on what influencers say about a specific brand. Leveraging these authentic voices to connect your brand or product to new audiences should be a key component in your communications strategy.
How to find an influencer who’s right for your brand
Finding the right influencer takes time and effort, and relies heavily on research. But it’s also the most crucial part of any outreach strategy. There are free tools to help identify the best individuals to target, no matter the industry, including BuzzSumo and Followerwonk. And don’t forget tried, tested, and true social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. A simple keyword search works great, but after finding a potential influencer be sure to notice who their connections are, what kind of engagement they get on their posts, and how they talk specifically about your industry.
But while these free tools might seem great, many of them offer limited functionality, meaning you’ll have to take a patchwork approach. A single product like Agility, on the other hand, can keep things simple and efficient when it comes to building lists of journalists who influence opinions and lend legitimacy to any brand.
Influencers don’t always work for free. There are many ways you can reward an influencer for sharing your story. Don’t discount the old-fashioned barter system! Remember that this could become a long-term relationship, and no successful long-term relationship is one-sided.
Reach doesn’t mean influence
Just because someone has 100,000 followers doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an effective influencer. You have to take the time to read what they say, learn who responds, and gauge the conversation. Reach plus engagement is ideal.
The best part is that you don’t need dozens of these influencers in your contact list. In the influencer game, quality is much better than quantity. A few, well-connected individuals helping amplify your content can lead to increased awareness about your brand. And, of course, to tie everything together, you need quality content – if it doesn’t provide value, no one will share it.