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Social Media InfluencersSocial media, in all its forms, continues to have a broad and growing reach across generations, locations, and interests. In the past, we’ve discussed harnessing the power of social media by reaching readers where they are, connecting with an audience on a personal level, and embracing imagery in posts, tweets, and Instagram posts.

To complement these efforts, marketers and public relations experts are touting the power of social media industry influencers to reach readers and sell titles. Engaging these leaders has become crucial to successful promotion through social media.

More than likes

So who are these influencers and how can they be identified? In an attempt to qualify the influence of popular social-media-ites, employees of major marketing firms and agencies have analyzed social media’s effect on buying habits. It turns out that data such as the numbers of followers, likes, and retweets doesn’t reveal influence on sales, as many social media users simply follow, like, and retweet without much thought.

According to the Augure white paper “Influencers Strategy: How to attract and engage your key influencers,” specialists at the PR and marketing software maker say, “It seems clear that digital influence can’t be measured based on a series of quantitative data. An influencer can’t be recognized by the number of followers obtained, or by retweets.”

Finding the influencers

To find social media influencers who can truly help expand your audience reach and subsequently sell to that growing audience requires deeper diving than merely determining who is popular.

  1. Start by narrowing the field. Find social media personalities with strong presence in your area of expertise. Their opinions have the potential to mobilize their audiences, which are already interested in your topic arena. Basically, determine who is reaching the people you want to talk to.
  2. Next, establish whether you have a common message. Ensure that influencers’ brands line up with yours. Are they direct competitors or are they simply aligned with your interests, values, and messaging?

All about engagement

Once you’ve qualified industry influencers, you need a plan of action to engage with them. Just as with your readers, start by building relationships through personalized, consistent contact with the influencers you have identified.

Sharing content and audiences is a cornerstone of these relationships. Giving credit where credit is due will help establish mutual trust and help each influencer recognize that the relationship has the potential to be mutually beneficial: You have content that will be of interest to followers and the influencer has an audience craving interesting content.

Take the time to do your research and ensure you appeal to both influencers and their followers. Once you’ve built strong connections, these relationships could evolve into partnerships through which you together create visual, shareable content — definitely a win-win situation.

There’s no need to go it alone — social media influencers offer platforms to engage with established followings. Delight the influencers in your market and you will increase your reachability, solidify your brand, and boost your sales.