Who are the influencers in your industry niche?
How do you find them on Twitter?
How do you begin to engage with them on Twitter?
There are a number of techniques which can be highly effective in finding and beginning conversations with the influential Twitter users who you would like to build a relationship with.
Yes, if you want to be taken at all seriously in social media circles then you MUST stop the hard sell!
It is the first thing that will turn off the engagement tap for any users – not just influential ones. You have heard a thousand times that social media is where you build relationships, give value, join conversations… and I am telling you this is 100% the reality!
There has been a very powerful shift away from the pitch and it probably has a lot to do with consumers drowning in advertising messages, some overt and some covert. People hate being sold to and they particularly hate being sold to in a social or community space.
Next up – how is your online image?
Pay attention to how you look! What is your image like? Is it really cool to use the image of you with the wrestling mask on?… or your dog?… or an image you pinched off Google?…
Use a really good image! Not a posed photographer’s studio shot, but a warm, interesting human photo of you!
The most powerful short message about yourself is your bio!
Take care with your Twitter bio and make it professional but a bit of fun as well. Show your personality here and use this area for any slightly out of the box bragging or special interests. Hopefully you will have a blog and this is where the bio link should lead rather than some sort of sales page.
Yes, and the numbers do matter!
Please make sure you follow a reasonable number of people and that you have a reasonable number of followers. It is hard to be credible as a social media manager for instance if you have 150 followers (take note self-proclaimed SM experts). And it would be hard to believe you are a top selling author and global CEO if you have 300 followers.
The old cliche – Content is king!
OK, now the content. Share valuable interesting posts from “appropriate to your industry” sources and do it often. Subscribe to blogs by the thought leaders in your niche and share their stuff frequently.
Intersperse these with expressions of thanks to anyone who retweets something you have posted and conversations with people who you communicate with on Twitter – you do have conversations with people on Twitter… right?
Now you are starting to look like you know how this stuff all works.
Here is where you can ramp things up a little! But be certain that these strategies will take time to gain any traction.
Step 1: Find the thought leaders in your niche
Where do you find these people? A great place to start is at the leading industry blogs. If you are into SEO go to blogs like Search Engine Land or Search Engine Journal. If you are in the social media field try Social Media Examiner or Social Media Today. Advertising and marketing should go to AdAge or Adweek. Business to Harvard Business Review and New York Times Business and so on and so on…
Who are the authors contributing innovative and interesting analysis, evaluation or opinions on these sites?
Keep note of the ones who resonate with you and find their Twitter pages – these are usually in their author bios (and most bloggers and writers use Twitter). Follow them!
Step 2: Brand any tweets with the author’s handle and embellish
You may have noticed the number of times you have gone to someone’s site and tweeted a post and at the end of the tweet the tweeting program gets a mention and not the author. Programs such as @addthis (2 million followers? Why?) or @sharethis are not going to do anything for driving engagement and you would be surprised how many sites still have this default setting.
This is what you do. You obviously found the post valuable and it is a good idea to give the author credit. Find the author’s Twitter username (usually there will be a link to their Twitter account on the page) and replace @addthis with @authorstwittername!
And you can do this with any site you think would be overwhelmed with communication like @adage or @nytimes or @smediaexaminer!
And here is the important next step…
Say something about the post or ask a question.
Here is an example of what I mean:
Or something like this:
On the first one you will see how instead of using @socialmedia2day which is a big social media blog I have used @SocialMediaF which is author Mili Ponce’s Social Media Management Twitter account. And I have finished with a personal note “Nice post Mili!”
On the second I have had a bit of fun with the content of the post with the cord blood stuff!
Each time you do this you are opening an opportunity to connect with the person you have just promoted to your following and in most cases it is appreciated. This is not to say that the social media heavyweights will reply to you – they get hundreds of such retweets and mentions a day, but it is a really good way to get to know those who are actively engaging with a wide range of users – but don’t expect a reply to every message.
Over time you will be surprised about how much the more savvy social media users are prepared to interact with you and actually enjoy meeting interesting people from around the world.
Step 3 : How are you perceived by others online?
Be interesting, be fun, be a bit random, be opinionated, be different!
Most of all BE YOURSELF!
When interacting through social media always let your amazing personality shine on through! Be gregarious ( not antagonistic) and be warm and tolerant.
Don’t buy into the negativity that can become prevalent in social media. Joining in on a wave of critical sentiment is not very attractive and does your brand no favours.
Step 4: One more very valuable tweak!
While you are at the various influential blogs if you think a post is informative, funny, interesting or smart enough to share make sure you leave a comment.
And this is a big proviso here…
Please do not leave a comment that says “Cool post” or “I got a lot from this post, this is really helpful”.
This type of comment is very hard to separate from software generated spam and will do your reputation no favours at all. Engage with the author – add to the conversation with your own experiences, even be prepared to challenge any points you do not completely agree with.
Start the dialogue!
Your comment should be as thoughtful as a mini blog post – this is your online brand at it’s most visible.
Share your experience and expertise with the world!
Step 5: Add your engaged influencers to Twitter lists
Create a list on Twitter with a really complimentary name (people do look at which lists they have been added to) and add the people who you are getting feedback from to this list.
Check into this list often to see what this group of people are sharing and go through the same process of going to the link, reading the post, deciding whether to share it, adding a comment, sharing with the author’s handle and adding a personal message.
That’s about it really.
Stop the sell.
Have a great, interesting profile.
Share cool stuff.
Acknowledge the authors.
Why not try this out by tweeting this with a note to me and/or leaving a comment – you will be surprised (or not) that I actually read and value every comment and retweet and you will find that the majority of influential social media users do as well!
Mike Morgan works with innovative businesses in New Zealand and Australia developing custom web marketing strategies integrating SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media Optimisation. When not in front of his screens you will probably find Mike walking on beautiful Ohope Beach with wife Midge and doberman Cooper. Follow Mike on Twitter here and Google+ here