When you were a kid and had your first party, you (or maybe your parents!) did all you could to make it perfect: decorated, made snacks, put on the best tunes, etc. Yet, your party would only be a success if you had guests, LOTS of guests, attend. Although you sent out dozens of invitations, in the end you could only wait and see if people showed up.
The same is true in marketing your website. You can dress it up and invite dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people to check it out, but there is no guarantee people will reply; unless you ask the right people. Think about your party again-you knew your friends would show, but what about the prom queen or the quarterback? If these “influencers” were coming, you’d be sure to have a high turnout. Again, the same is true for your website. If you can get industry influencers and thought leaders to accept your invitation, you can bet those following these influencers will be close behind.
It makes sense: work with industry influencers and thought leaders and they’ll use their influence to share your site. But how do you find these influencers? How can you be sure they have real influence? Here are a few tips on where and how to find industry influencers to help get your party going.
Good Old Google
Although it may seem a bit “old school”, a simple Google (or Bing or Yahoo) search will let you know the top sites in the target industry. The trick here is to use the right search terms for your industry. Try to use niche terms that are generally used by only those in the industry you’re targeting. Long tail searches can be helpful using questions or “how to” searches. For example, let’s say you sell craft supplies and want to target the scrapbooking industry. Using terms like “photo safe glue reviews” or “best craft scissors” would steer you towards niche sites. Long tail searches could be “how to scrapbook” or “tips on scrapbooking”. Search engines take into account site traffic, links and relevancy so the top sites you see are the top sites being used by those in your target industry.
Getting in with a Twitter thought leader could make for some quick turnaround as the micro blogging site passes information along rapidly. The best way to find Twitter influencers is to use Twitter Search sites like Twitter Search or Twellow. Once you’ve found those tweeting in your target industry, you can see which handles tweet most often and/or have the most followers – or you can use Twitter Grader to get all the info for you. Although Twitter influencers can generate quick results, they may not be lasting, as there is only so much one user can tweet.
Another Twitter tool is Tweetmeme. This site shows the top tweeted stories by categories. Although this may not help you find thought leaders on Twitter, it can point you towards blogs or sites with influence.
A good blog remains a gem in the world of internet influence. If you can find influential bloggers in your target industry, you’ll be able to get your message spread far and wide from a source many people trust. Top industry bloggers can be found using Google’s blog search. Again, you’ll want to use targeted terms in order to get the right blogs. Another smart search tip is to limit your results to blogs updated within the past month. This way you’ll be sure to get thought leaders that update frequently (although most do anyway, hence why they are thought leaders). Once you’ve found blogs, you’ll want to check out their ratings. You can tell high quality blogs by the amount of (legitimate) comments they receive, checking their rank in Alexa or Compete, or looking for their page rank in Google. Another popular blog search is Technorati, which provides blog rankings side by side with results. A final way to find good, targeted blogs is through Rating Burner, a site that holds the top rated blogs and allows you to filter them out with search terms.
Facebook and LinkedIn
It can be a bit time consuming to find thought leaders through Facebook and LinkedIn as there are little to no tools out there to rate Facebook and LinkedIn profiles or groups. Another hang up can be privacy settings keeping you from finding out more about a user or group. When it comes to searching, it’s best to utilize advanced search fields to find specific, targeted groups within Facebook and LinkedIn. Once you’ve found these groups, check out how many members each has and how often they post. High member/frequent posting groups would point towards thought leaders. Also, scan for members that post frequently as these could be individual thought leaders within the group.
Once you’ve got yourself a good list of thought leaders, it’s time to send out the invites! Be sure to be transparent in your communication and show you have a real interest in the person/site by talking about some of their recent posts. It’s always best to lead with talking about what they’re saying, then slowly transition to introducing your site/product/service. Before you know it, your site will be hosting one rocking party.