It used to be said that “all you need is good SEO” and your content will rank high. Then came Google’s cheerleaders and a “smarter than SEO” crowd and we learned “all you need is great content and good images”. Somewhere in between, we had to start creating better looking websites because that was indirectly going to get us better rankings. It all made sense and worked at one point or another.
This year, we started paying more attention to social media and influencers, or users with a lot of clout. If you made it this far in practice, you’d know that it’s a time-consuming and sensitive process to find active social media users who can motivate friends/followers into action. And this work isn’t for just anyone at your company. This person has to be perceptive, well-spoken, sensitive, and capable of representing your brand to any online community.
But, we’re still at the point of using social media and influencers to promote at the brand level, or maybe even product/service level. Why not use social media to promote at the article or blog post level?
You might be thinking, “we don’t even have the resources to market our content on a daily or weekly basis.”
But, if you operate a budding blog, you might already spend a few minutes to promote each on social bookmarking and media sites. While that used to be sufficient for search engine signaling and immediate traffic, it’s becoming a thing of the past.
And I hope you’re not thinking, “he’s referring to social bookmarking–we do that.”
Even posting links to new articles on Twitter or Facebook isn’t doing much, if anything, for new content. Just like anything new and cool online, its days of utility are numbered. Reddit, Digg, and similar sites used to bring in tens or hundreds of clicks per post if you were crafty enough.
What to do
At this point in the game, we should be creating “quality” content (given), and then sharing that content with users online that have clout–our influencers. Once you get good at this, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and the rewards should be substantial. If you want to think about it another way, each influencer that’s aligned with your topic or media focus is like a walking-talking-mini Digg or Reddit.
How do we do it
First, get to know the users on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook who are active in your industry or topic. These people could be thought leaders, well-known personalities, professional bloggers, etc. Make a list and sort it by number of followers, maybe a Klout score, and a score or simple yes/no for how accessible this person is to you. Whether a Twitter user never responds to your messages, or always responds, mark your list accordingly.
Then, when you publish new content, go to your list and select those users who you think would genuinely find your new content useful.
Share the content, and ask for feedback. If they like it, they may share it. Otherwise, you can ask them to share it after they’ve shown some interest.
Once you’ve started to do this, you can go one step further and analyze the effectiveness of each of your influencers. Using Google Analytics or other similar tool, and maybe even some simple URL building, you can tell who referred how many users.
Keep growing and refining your list of influencers and remember to reach out every time you create new content.
If you want to read further into what makes a good influencer, and what types of influencers exist, here’s a good Social Media Matrix on Social Media Today. Klout’s Social Media Matrix includes 16 types of social media influencers including the specialist, the activist, the socializer, the observer to the broadcaster, curator to the thought leader.