In this second of three blogs on using social media to build your brand we turn our attention from using social media to find thought leaders to using social media to network with thought leaders. In the first blog we learned how to use various resources to seek and connect with thought leaders within your industry. Most of these resources are completely free and help you to gauge how influential someone is so that you too can feed off of their exposure. However, most thought leaders won’t just connect with anyone; it has to be worth their time.
In part two of this series we will learn to use social media to network with these thought leaders so you have the best chance of forming a mutually beneficial relationship with them.
Connecting on Social Media
If you are trying to connect with social media influencers it makes sense that the main place you would do this is on social media networks. Since you have already established a list of the people you want to connect with from what we learned in the first post, you are now ready to begin to reach out to these people in hopes that you will establish a relationship. There are four basic rules that you can apply to networking on social media that work across the board on all the social media sites. These are:
The first and most obvious step is to follow the people who you wish to form relationships with. From there spend some time reading and gaining insight to what is important to them, the valuable things in which you are interested in, and potential ways that you can contribute to the conversation. Basically your first mission is to partake in a bit of reconnaissance to ensure that you know as much about this person – and their community – as possible. You are not doing this in a creepy, teenage crush sort of way, but rather you are gaining an understanding of why they are so popular and how they interact with others and others with them.
After following until you feel comfortable with your understanding of the social influencer and their network, your time has come to start making an appearance. When commenting make sure to provide valuable information, contributing to the discussion and sharing your industry expertise. You can respond to comments by the social influencer or even the other followers on the page if you feel your words will provide benefit to the conversation. When asking questions or directing responses at specific people within your influencer’s network, be sure to use their names or the @ symbol (on Twitter) to elicit more direct engagement. After a couple weeks of doing this you should be on the radar of the thought leader and be recognized as someone who has something meaningful to say.
Mentioning people in your comments is pretty easy in social media but varies from network to network. If you are answering a question of another community member, posing your own question to the thought leader, or trying to draw attention to a social media share concerning one of your own blogs, it is a good idea to mention the people who you want to take notice. On Twitter, this means @mentioning them in a tweet with a link to your blog. On Facebook, typing in a connections name will notify them that they are being mentioned. Google+ also has mention functionality that should be utilized.
Sharing the content of others is a great way to stroke the ego of thought leaders. When you do share links be sure to let them know that you have done so by mentioning their name on your social networks. Sharing and mentioning others is a great way to indirectly express to others that you’d like them to do the same for you!
Network all the Time!
Networking on social media can be a daily affair but is worth the effort. Establishing relationships with people through social networks can greatly expand your reach and create more traffic to your website or blog. The mentions of your name and the sharing of your content can also generate increased rankings in the search engines and perhaps even increase sales and revenues.
In the third and final post in this series we will discuss how to compound the efforts of your outreach and show you how to drive even more traffic to your site.