key influencer brainWhen you first begin your marketing task of growing your following on social media, some of the numbers out there may start to frighten you. You set up a Twitter account and have absolutely zero followers – and then you look at your competitor and realise that they have 10,000, 25,000, 50,000 or even 100,000 plus…

This can be a little off-putting right from the outset – but just keep this in mind: all of them started off with zero followers as well, and if they’ve got followers that amount to a 5 or 6 figure sum, then you can be sure that they’ve been active for a few years.

My point is that we all start from nowhere. I began with absolutely zero followers just over 4 years ago – and now I’m approaching 170,000, and increasing between 500 and 1,000 every single day.

Indeed, I might be considered a key influencer in my niche myself. With a follower base as large as mine, I’ve obviously got a lot of people interested in what I have to say. And indeed, I even find myself being utilised by other social media marketers like you in efforts to gain attention from some of my following.

I have absolutely no qualms with people who do this in a genuine manner – after all I did and still do it myself in my efforts to continue to grow my audience. Though let it be known now that I have no patience whatsoever with spam and spammers, so don’t bother even trying.

What Is A Key Influencer?

Key influencers are the people in your industry who are actively passionate about what they do and talk a great deal about it online – bloggers and journalists generally. Importantly, they have a very large following, who pay special interest in what the key influencers say – often quoting the influencers in their own blogs, and linking to their sites any way they can.

How Can Key Influencers Help Me?

That’s a great question. It is very important that you make the effort to find, follow and engage with key influencers online – especially on platforms like Twitter – as that will expose your name and your account to the key influencer’s following, and, over time, if you manage to garner some meaningful engagement with the influencer, you will start to get noticed.

Essentially you are piggybacking their fame, and trying to access part of the key influencer’s audience and hopefully poach some of it for yourself. If you are lucky enough to receive a few kind words of encouragement from a key influencer on a public space like Twitter, then this can do no end to your credibility, and you will start to see those figures flying up. Better than that, if a key influencer really likes your product, service, or blog and starts making endorsing references to these things, then you’re golden – indeed, this is the ultimate aim of your influencer marketing efforts.

However, you need to be a little careful. Do not, under any circumstances, harass a key influencer (or anyone else on social media (or off it!!) for that matter). Tweeting the person 5 or 6 times a day is desperate and annoying, and if you begin to behave like a spammer, then such is the influence of the influencer, then he/she may well succeed in getting your Twitter account suspended. At the very least the influencer will block you – and that’s no good at all.

Instead, you want to be trying to engage in thoughtful, intelligent and useful communications with the influencer. Ask them questions by all means – but make them good ones. Essentially you want to stand out as a thoughtful member of the influencer’s audience, and not just another little parasite trying to hitch a free ride on the back of someone else’s success.

Where To Find Key Influencers

Traackr provides a paid-for service that helps brands find their key influencers online and enables them to engage with these people quickly. The search you carry out is keyword based, and the Traackr team work with you to fine-tune your search terms so that you get the most relevant results. It’s simple to use, but can be expensive.

Followerwonk: This is a great tool which lets you search Twitter bios for keywords that will be useful in finding the right people you want to get tweeting about what you’re doing. You will be presented with some data about each individual, including their social authority and how many followers they have. The ones with the largest amount of followers and the highest social authority – provided they are interested in tweeting about your industry– are the key influencers that you want to be targeting.

Klout: This site requires a sign-in but takes no fee. When you type in your search query you are given a list of top influencers, besides which are given a Klout score. It’s not perfect, and it may take a few attempts to nail the right search query that best matches the influencers that could help promote you, but, it is helpful for getting you started.

Have you managed to get the backing from a key influencer in your marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments below.