How to Engage with Social Media Influencers

Businessman working netbook outdoors, wearing sunglassesBONUS: Worksheets on strategy, channels, monitoring and more.

By Becky Livingston
The Accountant’s Social Media Handbook

Engaging with influencers helps a firm’s brand to reach its target audience through well-respected and trusted sources. Amplification for your brand may not happen without leveraging an influencer network.

MORE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: How to Set Your Firm’s Social Media Foundation | How to Use Social Media Analytics | What Someone Else’s Influence Means to You | Get People to Your Landing Page | Content Categories and How to Leverage Them | How to Manage Social Media in 22 Minutes a Day | Use Finesse in Sharing, Scheduling Content | How to Schedule and Manage Social Media Activity | How to Craft a Social Media Profile | What Is Social Media?
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Social media influencers are people or companies in your industry or your clients’ industries who have a big influence via social media. People trust their name and tend to go to them for industry-related questions and research.

What makes this so important to you is that having a meaningful relationship with these influencers can drastically improve your credibility, as well as give you high-quality publicity for your firm. It’s basically free advertising for your firm. It also increases your firm’s influence via social media.

In a Kissmetrics article, Jay Baer – an American marketing consultant, speaker and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, "Youtility" – is quoted as saying, “True influence drives action, not just awareness.”

That’s how you need to think about the people you connect with who are sharing your branded content and message. They are people who are not only connected, but also drive a forward-thinking vision for the profession, industry or marketing vertical you want to be found in.

Digital Influence Marketing

Dayna Rothman provided this digital influence definition, “[It] is the ability to create an effect, change opinions and behaviors, and drive measurable outcomes online – largely as the result of social networking.”

According to Marketo, “Digital influencers are leaders within their communities, with powerful social networks and industrywide credibility. Plus, they are often willing to connect with brands relevant to their field of expertise.”

What does this mean for you?

These people are the ones others are talking about and to within an industry or in the profession, e.g., within the accounting profession it may include people such as Jason Blumer, founder and CEO, Thriveal Network; Gary Boomer, CEO, Boomer Consulting; Jim Bourke, CPA, CITP, Withum; David Cieslak, principal, Arxis Technology, Tom Hood, CEO and executive director, MACPA; Randy Johnston, partner, K2 Enterprises, CEO NMGI; Rita Keller, president, Keller Advisors; Jody Padar, CEO and principal, New Vision CPA Group; and so many more.

The 2015 top 100 accounting influencers list may be found online at Accounting Today’s 2015 Top Most Influential People In Accounting.

Why is it important?

In 2014, 92 percent of consumers trusted their friends and family more than advertisements, which caused them to be more likely to purchase based on recommendations.

Just think about how this could impact your firm’s brand. If people are more likely to seek recommendations from friends and family, how likely are they to recommend your brand? If no one knows about your firm, mentioning your firm’s name is very unlikely. However, if people who are relevant in your client’s industry are sharing content from your firm because it’s well crafted and provides solutions to problems, the chance of your target audience knowing you has increased.

But, by how much has it increased? In some cases it could increase by as much as 16 times that of a paid advertisement.

Where do you find them?

There are many social media listening tools to help you find influencers. Without social media monitoring, however, the task may be nearly impossible. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Research Hashtags

Create a list of the key hashtags used within an industry. For example, if your firm wanted to expand its reach in the construction industry, the first step would be to find hashtags that are prominent on social media for that industry. By simply entering “top construction hashtags” into a search engine, I found the following relevant results. I put relevant terms in bold. Those terms could be phrases to create problem-solving content directed toward this audience:

#hvac #designandbuild #carpenter #constructionlife #journeyman #constructionproblems #safetyfirst #foremanproblems #successfulforeman #generalcontractors #sitework #remodeling

Once you have a list of hashtags, enter them into an automation tool, such as Hootsuite, Traackr or Keyhole to find out who is talking about the topic. Monitor this list of influencers to make sure they align with your brand, and the topic you plan to share.

Then, create an influencer Twitter list to send content directly to via a Twitter List tweet. Here’s how.

  1. Log in to your Twitter account.
  2. Click the account icon (avatar) and choose “Lists.”
  3. On the right sidebar, choose “Create new list.”
  4. Name the list and add a description. Be sure to set the privacy if you do not want others to follow your list.
  5. Populate the list with influencers’ handles by visiting an influencer's Twitter profile, clicking the gear icon and choosing “Add or remove from lists.”
  6. Check the list box the person will be added to.
  7. Once the list is created, a Tweet to the list would include your handle (username) plus the list name, e.g., @BM_Livingston/CoolCPAs. The Tweet would only go to those on the list that I had previously added.

One thing to keep in mind is everyone is not on Twitter. You may also use hashtags in just about any other social media platform. However, creating lists is either not an option on most platforms, or may be more difficult to use.

Google Plus does allow for a listlike feature. It’s called circles. In that platform you would create circles for content you want to share only with certain people. In the marketing industry, we call is segmenting. You would then share the content only with a preloaded circle of people.

Facebook and LinkedIn have groups. You could create a group or join a group on either platform. If you create a group, you need to invite people to it rather than adding them yourself. If you join a group, be sure to follow any posting guidelines for the group so you/your content does not get marked as spam.

Alerts

Setting alerts on influencer names helps you to know

  • what they are posting,
  • where it’s being posted and
  • how people are reacting to it.

You can set alerts with tools like Google Alerts or TalkWalker. Both send an email when a name or phrase shows up online. I recommend doing this not only for influencers, but for thought leaders, clients, influencers within your firm, your firm’s name, as well as topics you may want to keep tabs on.

Social Mention

This tool allows you to look up your firm’s name across many platforms, such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more. This is also a great, real-time, free tool to look up your competition, hashtags, influencers and more.

Activity

An influencer strategy is built on reciprocal relationships, making the practice an expensive endeavor for businesses of all sizes. Before a marketing department launches any kind of campaign, it must outline a clear strategy that includes:

What do you want your influencer group to achieve?

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Brand awareness?

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Conversions?

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Virality?

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Alignment

As you conduct preliminary research to identify potential influencers, break the experts down into three categories. Then, based on your budget and available resources, outline the volume of influencers you’ll attempt to win over from each segment, understanding that industry leaders will inevitably cost more to attract and manage. Always remember to make sure each influencer fits within your broader marketing goals.

Conduct preliminary research

Categories

Industry Leader

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Mid-tier Professional

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Up-and-Coming Star

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It’s important to define the subjects your target influencer writes or talks about, and their different related variations, before you begin. The keywords that will help you to narrow down the field of possible influencers can be classified into several categories:

  • The names of the brands and products of the industry in question
  • Terms defining the sector where the business develops its products, or more specifically, the targeted product category
  • Current events within the industry
  • Cross-connected subjects

Complete Each Category

Use the tools we’ve already talked about to search for terms in each of the areas below, then draw ideas for influencer possibilities.

Names of brands or products in your industry:

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Terms defining the sector:

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Current events in the industry:

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Cross-connected subjects:

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Channels

Filter those influencers by channel type (e.g., Twitter, blogs, video, Facebook, etc.) because each message should be tailored to the media the influencer uses the most. Even if they are on more than one channel, focus only on one to target your connection point.

On the following chart, write the influencer name in the first column, then checkmark their primary channel of preference. That channel will be how you begin to engage with them to build a relationship. Monitor all the platforms they engage with to make sure you’re seeing the whole “personality.”

Mark primary channel with a 1. Mark secondary channels with a 2.

Chart for plotting potential influencers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Measurement

How you measure an influencer campaign is closely tied to that campaign’s goals, so it’s important to formalize them before choosing how you’ll measure success. There are a variety of ways to measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign, and deciding which one is right for your brand is essential. Here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) you may want to track.

  • Quality of content
  • Sentiment of content
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Cost per click
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Cost per impression
  • Comments
  • Shares

Monitoring

By now you’ve identified your influencers and defined a precise categorization scheme. But don’t rush things! Before contacting them, get to know them a bit, by listening to them.

What subjects do they talk about?

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What type of keywords are they using?

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Are they connected to influencers? If so, write their names down:
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Tip

Once you begin to notice the type of content they speak about and where they are most engaged, begin to share their content, comment on their posts and begin to form a relationship. Calling an influencer out of the blue might not work as your best strategy.

Consider influencer marketing a long-term strategy since it could take months to curate the relationship.

Activity

Who is your ideal influencer?

Age: _____________________________________________

Gender: _____________________________________________

Location: _____________________________________________

Industry vertical: _____________________________________________

Average audience size: _____________________________________________

Which hashtags will you add to your social media list?

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Who are the social media influencers you should follow and begin engaging with?

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Who should be on the firm’s “alert” list?

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What would be the names of some of your Twitter lists?

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Which LinkedIn groups should you join?

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Which Facebook groups should you join?

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What Google Plus circles should you create and who should go in those?

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