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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Influencer Marketing 101. Building your Influencer Network. Part 1

Dear reader,

Today, we discuss our influencer network. How do we choose correctly those who impress us and people like us on a daily basis?

Step No.1: Build your Influencer Network.

At your early pre-launch stages, start with the the social media hubs. Later, when your product is rolling and you have time and funds to build your post-launch strategies,

- you will develop your influencer relations program,
- you will outline your influencer outreach plan,
- you will plan your real-life interactions with influencers, etc.,

...all according to corp strategies described in this or that Voice of Authority.

But while you're still a Tweeter in the Wilderness, stick to the social media. Plus, a solid SM platform will only do you good later.

I personally prefer Twitter as a faster way to put yourself in the spotlight, but you can apply some of my advice to other social media hot-spots. So here is the rookie's first rule: follow everyone, but do not follow everyone!

Let me explain. At first, you will want to be nice and return the favor to every follower, just like you're probably doing for years in your personal account, and it will be wise to do so. It will give you more Favorites and Retweets. But later, you will discover your feed is full of Tweets totally unrelated to your goal. And you'll start missing out on important messages from your top influencers.

You will need to weed down your initial quota of 2,000 followees to top influencers only. Later, when you grow from a wannabe to a famous boy/girl with your own social media coordinator and a larger follower-to-followee ratio, you can afford to be nice to everyone. Follow your favorite bands, sports teams, and other hobby-related accounts in your personal account, but never from your product's account.

Do not expect to have top influencer followers only! At first, all sorts of influencers will follow you. There is a way to reward your level 3 and 4 influencer followers if you want to show them the respect and appreciation you feel. Every now and then, drop by their feeds, comment on and favorite some stuff you really like. But retweet only things that are connected with you and your own agenda!

Advice on building your influencer network:

1. Pay attention to your chosen followees.

Level 1 influencers - actors, musicians and miscellaneous stars - all have verified accounts marked with a tick mark icon. But don't focus on those too much - their time is very expensive and they spend it accordingly. Of course, their word alone is both an endorsement, a thousand-dollar-worth ad, and a surefire way to get a contract, but how to get that word?

Say, if you write fangy romance, and Stephenie Meyer recommends your book, consider yourself almost in the Twilight zone. But there are tons of paranormal romance on the market. Even if you are published or self-published, you are a mere title lost in the waters of Amazon.com. For a star influencer to spend a considerable amount of time reading and endorsing your book, you have a long way to go. Plus, they don't like creating competition - next time, a reader with money for only one book, may choose your first novel over their tenth one.

Metatag Hag: To resume, that is one mountain top you just cannot jump onto. So focus on your climb of Everest, and when you make it, you will be visible to other mountain-top-sitters, and that's a totally different area of influencer marketing and psychology.

Your main target is Level 2 where the decision-makers dwell.

2. Do not forget the differences AND the similarities between celebrity psychology and businessperson psychology.

As soon as you established a follower-followee relationship with a Level 2 influencer, start studying their work. Visit their sites; comment on their recent achievements. Do not be bland and banal: use tasteful jokes (careful! "funny" sells, but not everyone's sense of humor is like yours), come up with some aphorisms and interesting homemade wisdom.

For example, recently I was Tweeting with @JoshCoffy and in dialogue, came up with the line: "The road to success is a maze, not a straight line". It got Retweeted and Favorited several times, and after that, top influencer after top influencer from the business world started following me. Now, according to @JaysonDeMers, a Seattle-based SEO firm owner, there is little direct rapport determined between social signals and the place of the advertised product in the search result rankings. Yet I personally think this rapport is important. The more top influencers follow you, the more chance you have to Tweet something worthy of their notice. And that is another step towards the endorsement you crave.

3. Do not hesitate to use flattery.

Just make it fine and discreet - top influencers are all smart people who will know how to decode your message the right way. And stop lamenting about being too proud to flatter people! As I say frequently, when you kiss some influencer boot, you don't have to bend down - you have to jump up. Moreover, if your top influencers are from the field you work in, they're bound to have come up with something worthy of admiration, and that deserves mustering up a sincere compliment. When someone like that follows you, and you say you're honored, it's not insincere flattery. The attention of a big fish is truly and objectively an honor for a small fish. 

When a high-profile person follows you, respond with a thank-you note. But not everyone will react positively to that: be prepared to receive all sorts of reactions in response to a polite thank-you note. For example, when I was followed by one @JoshStern, I sent a thank-you note and received back a Tweet that was quite insulting. Like all insults questioning qualities that we believe to be our strengths, it caused intense butthurt (excuse the word, but it's not a mere addition to our urban dictionaries - it is a popular trend, too). After three "bite me" Tweets and a weekend of rest and reflection, I deleted those Tweets and worded a conclusion I want to share with you. Do not be surprised - it coincides with an age-old wisdom.

Metatag Hag: If you want to swim with the sharks, you need a thick hide.

That includes ignoring insults, rejections, and doubts. You are the best, and that must be a universal truth in your inner universe.

You also need to learn to manage your need for validation. But that is the subject for another Metatag Hag note in another article.

One more important thing: do not waste time thinking WHY this or that person said or did this hurtful thing. Trust me, when I say "weekend of reflection", I only indicate the span of time between insult and conclusion. The mere affair took me all of 15 minutes.

We will continue next time with more tips.

Sincerely yours,
Anastasia Stratu aka Metatag Hag