One of the most important components of a winning social media optimization strategy is influencer marketing. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it merely means to have a social media leader promote your organization or product.  This is a powerful and relatively inexpensive way for a social media guru to get behind your efforts. Social media is all about word-of-mouth and getting advice from trusted sources.  Having an authoritative, established influencer in your corner can springboard your organization to the next level.  Consider how Oprah Winfrey’s recommendation of a book or product is enough to launch huge sales; an influencer of an online community can do much the same thing.

Identify Influencers

  The initial step in influencer marketing is identifying your target markets.  You are probably already very familiar with your key market segments, but it may be helpful to work with a top social media marketing company to identify other market segments that may be ripe for promotional targeting. Once you know which markets you want to target, you can use some simple tools to find social media influencers with authority in those markets. There are social metric tools like Kred and PeerIndex that not only identify influencers, but also provide a quantifiable score as to how influential they are. These services not only provide how influential they are on certain platforms, but also offer valuable analytics about their relationships with other social media professionals and communities.

Building a Relationship

  After you have identified the influencers you want to enlist, you should begin the process of building a relationship. This starts with engaging them in one of more forums like social networks, face-to-face meetings or their blog. In all of these encounters, it is incumbent upon you to strike up a conversation.  You may try a compliment or an insightful response to their content.  If you are having difficulty making inroads into their inner circle, you may wish to consult with a social media marketing expert. Once you have captured their attention, you need to cultivate the relationship by distinguishing yourself from the rest of the crowd.  You may do this in a number of ways like demonstrating you are also a thought leader, or offering unique products for them to review.  If you can arrange it, try to get some quality personal time with them on Skype or Google+ Hangout, to help them get to know you personally.

Earning Their Loyalty

  The final stage of influencer marketing is a mutually beneficial partnership in which both parties advocate for the other.  It may take a while to reach the point where your influencer perceives you as an equal, but the payoff is immense.  You will obtain access to their hordes of followers as well as earn recommendations to other respected influencers. You should also keep in mind that not every influencer is open to this type of relationship.  So remain optimistic, but approach multiple social media gurus to keep your chances high.  And remember, if you are rebuffed, you may still earn their friendship in the future as your own reputation among influencers develops.
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