Building a community: engage your influencers

If you have found the community you want to reach, then you should probably reach them.

We have already investigated how to find relevant influencers. Now it is time to make them sit up and take notice.

Of course your content will speak to your audience of influencers, but you need to get their attention first.

Enagage them
If your influencers are good, then show them some respect and get involved. Repost their content and comment on what they are talking about. Social media are open so there is nothing to stop you.
If your influencer is very much in demand, this could be difficult but be smart and be pithy, and don’t bombard with messages – you don’t want to alienate anyone.
Talk about them

One of the classic ways to get someone’s attention is to talk about them. If you have found an audience you want to reach, perhaps you should single-out a select few for special consideration and write about them.

It could be that their blogs are the most relevant to your audience. It might be that their Twitter feed is the most useful. Perhaps their website offers the best advice.

Draw them together into a group others will understand and explain what makes then special. This will almost inevitably be a list – The Dozen best Giraffe handlers on Twitter, the 10 best oil changer blogs etc.

But don’t stop there – talk about them and engage them where you know they like to interact. Include their Twitter handle when you Tweet so they know you are talking about them and your followers know it too. Get them involved.

Give them something

The people you want to engage are only human. Gifting goes a long way, according to the rule of reciprocity.

This does not have to be a physical gift – A bottle of Champagne and sandalwood-flavoured chocolate might get you noticed, but might be inappropriate. It could be a piece of information, a special piece of research, a special offer. You know your audience – you will know best what would work for them.

Ask for something

You have found your influencers and they know you are talking about them. Ask them for something.

Perhaps a blog. Perhaps a quote for a piece about something else. Perhaps to come in and speak to your staff. Perhaps for some advice. Perhaps to ask them about their business.

The give and take of business means if you ask them for something, they will most likely ask you for something in return. So begins a beautiful friendship.

Meet them

Meeting your audience face-to-face is without doubt the best way to engage with them. There are again many ways to do this.

If they are speaking at a conference, ask a question, but follow up by saying hello after the presentation is over.

You could arrange to meet for a coffee or a beer or a slice of cake while watching the Thames slither past to see what they are all about. It could be you could help one another.

Or, you could organise some sort of event to meet your audience all at once in one place, but be careful – if you choose this option you need to make sure you can invest the time to speak to them, all of them, while you are there.

Hire them

This could mean actually offering them a job. If the person is so influential, they could use some of that magic for you. More likely it could mean offering a specific piece of work.

If they are bloggers, you could hire them to write about something for you. If they are photographers you could ask them to take pictures for you.

If they are influential and you want them, then maybe some of that magic will rub off on you.

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