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We’ve written quite a bit before about the importance of connecting with influencers in your industry and the best ways to capture their attention. It is very important, but it is only one prong of an effective influencer strategy. The second is to become an influencer yourself, boosting your brand’s credibility along with yours.Too many people think that influencers are chosen by fate and that they appear on the scene mysteriously, overnight. Nothing could be further from the truth. Influencers are people who have decided to make the most out of their unique perspective and deep knowledge of their field. They work hard to keep up with what is happening in their space and take seriously the trust that others put in them. Anyone with valuable insight and the willingness to put in the time and effort it takes to cultivate their reputation as a reliable source for useful intelligence can become an influencer. Here’s how.
You can’t be all things to all people so don’t bother with that strategy. Instead, become the leading thinker in one area that you care deeply about or that is of great importance to your brand. For example, you won’t become an important influencer in the area of “business.” But you may very well become an important voice in the area of “building strong cultures in small businesses.”
Understand the Platforms
LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all the others aren’t static platforms. New features, enhanced analytics, algorithm updates, and other enhancements can change the way a social network is used and navigated. Influencers are highly attuned to the channels they use to reach their audience. It is a good idea to subscribe to and read blogs about each of the platforms you leverage.
Read. Read. Read.
If, “location, location and location” are the keys to real estate, than “reading, reading, and reading” are the keys to influence. You can’t provide relevant information to your audience if you are talking about yesterday’s news. You need to be hyper-aware of the news and stories that are circulating in your niche. People often focus on content creation, but forget that the best writers are insatiable readers as well.
Monitor the Landscape
Of course, you can’t read everything, so be sure that you devote your time to the most important content in your space. You’ll want to read content that is created by and shared by important influencers, of course, but you might be able to provide more value to your followers if you also uncover ideas from less obvious sources and more obscure publications.
Influencers don’t publish five blog posts in a week, then disappear for a month and a half, only to come back with a flurry of new posts. Rather, they consistently post new original content, comment on other’s work and share items that are relevant to their audience. This doesn’t mean that you need a new blog post every day, but you do need a regular cadence of engagement. There are lots of tools available to help you schedule content for publication so that you provide a constant and even flow of ideas to your audience.
Don’t Neglect LinkedIn as a Publishing Platform
When people want to find content relevant to their work, their first stop is often LinkedIn. Now that LinkedIn has opened up its publishing platform to everyone, it is a great way to target an audience that is looking for business related information.
Contribute to Other Sites
Anyone can put content on their own blog. Having articles with your name appear on other sites is a good element of social proof that you are a thought leader. This probably isn’t as hard as you think. Do you struggle to put enough content on your blog? We thought so. Why? Because everyone does. This is good news because it means that the PR person or marketer in charge of the blog that would make a good home for an article by you is probably desperate for content and will be delighted by your offer of a post. (I expect us to get flooded with guest post offers after this one is published.)
Marketers and PR people often talk about social media as a conduit for conversations, but have you noticed how often those “conversations” consist of, “Hey, here’s my content, please read it.” If you really want to build your status as an influencer, you need to do more than that. Comment on other people’s posts. Ask relevant and insightful questions related to your own or other’s ideas. Attend Twitter chats, webinars and (dare we say it?) live in-person events. In short, it is important to talk with people, not at them.
Is becoming an influencer a lot of work? Yep. But there is an endless stream of information out there and it is difficult to stand out. The information created and shared by influencers goes to the top of the heap. If you want to get the most attention you can for your brand, that’s where you need to be.