How to Make Yourself More Influential
By Karen Geier
The social media landscape has an unprecedented upside: you can raise your company’s profile and you can build a fan base for yourself by simply engaging others in your content or opinion. It’s not always clear, however, how to go from a “Twitter nobody” to an “influencer” on social media.
There is a formula that most services use who assign influence, including Klout and Kred. It involves how often you tweet, and how many and what level of influence are the followers you have.
Build Your Influence Areas Online
First, choose up to three competencies. You can’t be an expert in everything, and now is not the time to use a “spray and pray” approach. Be specific. Think about the three promises of your brand, and its vertical. Which three topics fit your area of expertise that you won’t get tired talking about?
Once you have your “big 3” topics, do some research into who is influential in these areas. Do a blog search, use a comprehensive social research tool like MAP, powered by Sysomos, or even free (albeit limited) tools like Klout, Kred, and Wefollow to find out who the influencers are. Follow the ones you like the most with a high level of influence. Make sure to add yourself to these services. You can check in to see your influence progress as you build it.
Once you’ve followed influencers, you will start to see trends in the type of content they share. If you feel comfortable, you can wade into these conversations, replying to or mentioning the influencers. You won’t always get a reply, but when you do, you’re well on your way to raising your profile and building influence.
When it comes to blogs, try aggregating influential blogs by using a blog search tool to show you the highest trafficked blogs in your chosen areas. Add the blogs you like to an RSS reader like Feedbin so you can check one place during the day for posts to comment on (if you want a more general approach, you can use a discovery tool like Prismatic to find blog posts on the topics of your choosing).
Once you find articles you have an opinion about, it’s time to start commenting. An important point to keep in mind is that with commenting platforms like Disqus and Livefyre, you can log in with your social media accounts, which will be shown in your comment. This will help people discover you. If this feature is not available, close your comments with links to your social media accounts. This will help like-minded people follow you.
Hop on Trends
Your frequency of updates and how germane they are to the topics you’re covering directly affect your influence level. One of the best ways to boost your influence is to find out what’s trending and hop into those conversations. Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Facebook have trends built into their interfaces, but often these are overrun with topics not in your areas of expertise. Sites like hashtags.org or whatthetrend.com can easily show you what conversations are happening, and what the hashes refer to (if it’s a conference, you might not want to comment if you’re not there).
Frequency is Key
It might seem like an unwieldy burden at first to tweet regularly, but once you get the hang of who to talk to and about what, you’ll find you easily fall into a regular groove. Just because your office isn’t open on the weekend, don’t neglect chatting during these times. Often, influencers are still actively online during these periods, and since volume is low, your chances of a reply increase.
Just because you’re in an offline situation doesn’t mean you can’t promote yourself. Add your accounts to your business cards, conference badges, printed stationary, brochures, etc. This will actually increase your follower account passively, because once you’ve met someone in person, he or she is more likely to follow you than someone they haven’t met.
Once a week, you should check in on your influence. Don’t obsess over a point here or there, but you should be seeing a steady rise if you are updating regularly and participating in the most influential conversations. As your influence grows, you will notice your follower count rise more quickly. This is because other people are searching for influencers too, and discovery engines in Twitter and Facebook will suggest you more readily the more you increase your influence.
There are many reasons why someone will follow you, but by applying a targeted approach to attracting the right followers, you can build a solid audience who will look forward to participating in conversations with you, turn to you as an expert, and begin patronizing your company because of their existing relationship with you.