Outreach seems to be the buzzword of 2013 so far and we have seen countless articles about how to source outreach opportunities. With this in mind I have been trying to find slightly different approaches toward carrying out effective outreach and ways to identify individuals to build relationships with. I have talked a lot through the latter stages of 2012 about the importance of building niche-specific relationships with influencers in order to create a sustainable link-building campaign. What I am now going to show you is how to actually identify who your current influencers are and how you can benefit from building a relationship with them.
Let’s start with what I mean by an ‘influencer‘ of your website: An influencer is someone who actively reads, shares and/or engages with your site’s content. This could be through sharing your blog articles on social media, linking back to your content or generally talking about your website/brand in one way or another. For the purposes of this article I will be concentrating more on content influencers as opposed to general brand evangelists, mainly because if I start getting into complete brand influencers then I could be writing for some time!
Why Do I Need to Identify Influencers?
In order to build a solid social presence that promotes the regular sharing of your site’s content it is important to understand who actually enjoys the stuff that you create. Understanding this is just one step toward forming a mutually beneficial relationship that can enable you to reach a wider audience. On top of this you can understand who your influencer’s influence and increase your online reach, thus improving the likelihood that your content will be linked back to, which in most cases is the overall objective.
Identifying Your Influencers
Topsy.com is one of the best websites that I have came across for measuring social interactions within a webpage. You can simply enter the URL of one of your webpages (e.g, a recent article within your blog) and it will show you exactly who has Tweeted the page along with the details of the tweet. This is incredibly useful toward understanding who is sharing your content and identifying influencers of your website. Another great feature is that you can drill down by ‘highly influential’ users, which essentially means that these users have a large following and their content is regularly shared. Pay close attention to these users as they could get your content in front of a much wider audience. There is also the option to search for Google+ shares but this feature has only recently been added and is still a bit ropey (we will use Google+ Ripples to find this info out).
The first thing I do once I have found all the Twitter users that have shared my article I put their Twitter handles into a spreadsheet, highlighting users marked as ‘highly influential’. The next stage is to add each of the users into my private list that I have created on Twitter called ‘Engage With Me’. This allows me to keep track of what these users talk about and engage with them all within one section of Twitter.
This is something that I would strongly advise anyone to do because it allows you to quickly and easily keep track of what all of your influencers on Twitter are talking about, who they are talking about and what they are sharing. I do a similar thing within Google+ but will come to that a bit later in this article.
CircleCount is a fantastic free Google+ analytics tool that can be used to find out various bits of information about different users within the social platform. I use this tool alongside the likes of Topsy in order to identify key industry influencers as well as finding out the other social accounts of the Twitter users I have identified.
By simply searching for the name of a user you can find out the URL of their Google+ profile, their ‘CircleRank’ (a metric used by CircleCount to show how influential the user is), how many followers they have, their recent posts and a load more stuff. Once you have this info, you will be able to understand what the users tends to talk about on Google+, how influential they are within the social platform and there is also some handy links to their other social accounts which you can add them on.
You can also download the CircleCount.com Chrome plugin to use directly from your browser, which I find really handy as it offer some quick glances at data directly within Google+ itself.
Recognising the Ripple
Like we have done with Topsy, Google+ Ripples will allow us to take a deeper look into exactly who is sharing our content on the Google+ platform. I use this as an integral tool toward measuring the performance of my content and also as a vital tool toward identifying influencers of my site that I can look to build relationships with.
To take a look at the “ripples” of your content, find where you have posted the link on Google+ and then select ‘View Ripples’ from the little arrow drop-down in the top-right corner of the post. Better yet, you can just use this amazing Google+ Ripples bookmarklet made by AJ Kohn.
Within Google+ Ripples, I can see a list of G+ users on the right that have shared my content, whilst I can also see a nice graphic display of the way in which my content has been shared on the social network. Like with the Twitter users that have shared my content, the first thing I do is add each of these Google+ users into a ‘circle‘ called ‘Engaged with me’. This can let me get quick access to a list of users that have interacted with me over time. From here, I can then add each of these users into my ‘influencers spreadsheet’.
Google Ripples can also be used to see how influential each of the users sharing your content actually are. Where you see that a user has shared your content and then from this gained several shares of their post, you can identify them as particularly influential and spend a bit more time building a relationship with them.
Building a Relationship With Your Influencers
Now that you have identified who your website influencers actually are, you can then start to engage with them in order to develop further relationships. At this stage, once someone has shared a piece of my content, I’m a good position as I have already caught their attention. Time is now important toward taking advantage of this while your are in the minds of your influencer. Remember that it can take a long time to get your content in front of someone, but it only takes a day or so for them to completely forget you. Once someone has shared your content, take these steps:
- Comment with their post or send them a direct message simply thanking them for sharing your content. Don’t get too overexcited here because you don’t want to seem too eager – not many people respond well to that.
- See if you can migrate them to somewhere that would ensure they would see more of your content in the future. For example, I always see if my influencers want to join my Google+ community or if they want to sign up to my blog’s RSS feed.
- Find ways of adding value to your influencers in order to encourage the future sharing of your content. For example, quoting them within future content, asking them if they would like you to contribute to their blog and linking to them within your content.
It is also important that you understand whether your influencers have the ability to link to you. For example, do they have a website or do they write articles on the web anywhere. If they do have this ability, then they should be your primary targets for getting your content in front of. This is then much more likely to result in you gaining backlinks to your site and improving your search engine performance.
The key to building long-lasting and valuable relationships is to understand that it has to be a two way affair. If you are only out to get something and give nothing in return then you may get a short-term win, but this isn’t the most sustainable and scalable strategy to implement. Offer advice and listen to your influencers so that you can help where you can. Nine times out of ten you will have the favour returned in one way or another in the future.