5 Steps to Courting an Influential Online Audience

May 8, 2015

Just last year, Forbes published an article called “The Explosive Growth of Influencer Marketing and What it Means to You.” The authors pointed out how social media has become similar to a giant megaphone that amplifies the voice of the consumer and even shifts the balance of power in consumer decisions from brands to customers.

The article also reported on a study that found word-of-mouth advertising doubled sales and greatly increased customer retention rates. This shines a light on the reason that marketers court these external influencers so eagerly. In other words, letting outside influencers become a company’s best sales force improves marketing ROI and attracts more valuable customers.

In the world of an Internet marketer, that makes these recognizable and respected voices pretty coveted dates. Consider five ways to court an influential audience for your brand.

  1. Find Potential Influencers
    Of course, before companies can enjoy the fruits of having enthusiastic and effective advocates, dance cards need to get filled up. Some examples of places to look might include authorities who publish on notable industry blogs, active LinkedIn posters, and top reviewers on Amazon.

  1. Go Courting
    Courting influencers isn’t easy because they are rarely the wallflowers at the ball who never gets asked to dance. Most experts advise building a relationship before asking for anything. Good ways to do that might include commenting on their articles or liking their posts. By the time, you actually ask them for anything, they should already know who you are.

  1. Go Prepared to Give Back
    The problem is that the most valuable online voices already know lots of people, so mere familiarity with you as an online presence might not even be overwhelming enough. Before you go courting, be prepared to bring some virtual flowers. Perhaps you could let your target know that you are prepared to tag their own projects on your social media or send them some free stuff from your company.

  1. Don’t Whine
    The reality is that powerful online voices get courted a lot. Just as in courting, rejection isn’t always permanent and is nothing to take personally, at least not out loud. If you have done a good job of compiling that initial list of influencers, a couple of rejections shouldn’t send you into a spin. Remain pleasant and pursue more receptive targets. You can still remain friends and avoid any appearance of creepiness.

  1. Stay Steady and Persistent
    Most Internet marketers have to strike the balance between getting enough exposure and becoming a nuisance. While connecting with an influencer a couple of times a week might not be enough for quick results, spamming your target six or seven times a day could just come off like transparent stalking. While consistency is important, make sure that you can maintain quality and also spend time connecting with other targets.

Test and Repeat Your Influencer Courting Strategies

Of course, during every step of the process, you should be keeping track of your targets, progress along the path, and the success of any advocacy that any of your targets do for your brand. The exact strategies that work with online influencers can vary by industry and individual. In time, your influencer courting moves should become practiced enough not to look practiced at all!

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