Can anyone really begrudge the tech influencer groupie? It’s a small subset of the population that lives, breathes and adamantly follows the inside baseball goings-on in the world of IoT, IIoT, AI, ML, BI, OPM, APM and a host of other technological acronyms… While the numbers are few, make no mistake, the role is important.
Analysts, tech writers and contributors, serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are the highly esteemed and well-revered keepers of the keys to what the future will hold for us all, and hence naturals for the influence role. They know what the “next big thing” is. They’re aware of the marketing trends and commercial needs. They know how to decipher technical jargon and set aside the trending buzz terms to drill into what truly matters – and what will have the biggest impact.
Below are a few tips for building relationships that work with and for influencers:
Before you dive in, take some time to think about what kind of influencers are aligned with your market and business goals. Are you looking to gain insights for propelling your business forward from serial entrepreneurs? Are you seeking a better understanding of who your competition is in the marketplace? Do you want to generate stimulating conversations that will encourage influencers’ followers to notice you and start following what you’re doing? Are you hoping to parlay online social engagements into real-life media interview opportunities or analyst briefings? Do you want to build social status and influence (which can be “counted” with tools like BrandWatch and FollowerWonk based on levels of engagement, caliber of followers and more)? Do you want to collaborate on research projects? Gain access into professional communities or insight into new market research reports and papers? The list is a mile long and then some. Stop and think about what you want. Start small and focused and go forth from there.
Here at 10Fold, we regularly track, follow, and strategically engage with influencers on social media on behalf of our clients. That’s something that tends to be best to leave to the professionals, as engaging with the wrong contact in the wrong way at the wrong time could be disastrous for your reputation and lead to more closed doors than open opportunities. This starts with the all-powerful strategic search. We deploy social media listening tools to determine which influencers have a strong social authority (with algorithms that track engagement, follower numbers, social status of the influencers’ followers, growth and more) and couple that with an acute understanding of which tech influencers are actively writing, talking, researching, publishing, speaking and pontificating about niche areas of market movements in various facets of the tech industry.
Once you’ve solidified your list and as you start to track influencers, look around at their omnichannel online and offline footprints to determine how best to follow and engage with them. See where they’re speaking and what live industry events they are the most excited about attending. Keep an eye out for mentions of colleagues also playing in the space, as well as industry forums, groups and communities in which they are active players. Understand what they are passionate and what makes them tick. Join any TweetChats or LinkedIn Groups they are actively involved in. Check out guest blog posts, contributed articles, interviews, podcasts, videos, websites and any other avenues for which these target influencers are actively contributing, posting or sharing.
Understand their pet peeves, likes and dislikes. Read their tweets and posts. Favorite them to show your support. Share or retweet them if you like the content. Comment with thoughtful responses to further the conversation, as well as engaging (non-self-serving) questions to take a deeper dive into topics of interest. If they are encouraging feedback, share your personal (professional) experiences with the topic they’re speaking about – you never know, they just may want to connect further to learn more from you for a future story, paper of post. We use social media monitoring tools to help track this and flag opportunities for engagement for our clients. Find the cadence and listening structure that is right for you and fits within your schedule. (Be forewarned, this in and of itself can be a full-time job!)
The last stop on your rise to becoming a social media guru yourself will be in learning the nuanced and unspoken terms of engagement in the right place, with the right influencers, at the right time, with the right content. Once you’ve mastered this, by sharing your owned, original content frequently (but not too overtly) and sharing others’ content (with the right cadence and the right audiences), you’ll start gaining traction and will eventually earn your stripes with influencers who will start to tag and mention you. At that point, you may want to think about hiring an influencer to help boost awareness of your company. Stepping into a paid social campaign is a whole other ball game, which calls for another conversation, on another blog post at another time. (Luckily for you, we’ve already prepared the initial stepping stones there for you!) Visit our post on how to get started with paid campaigns here.