How to Find Influential People With Social Media

social media how toDo you want to build relationships with key influencers in your niche?

Are you looking for an easy way to identify and connect with industry thought leaders?

If so, keep reading for a simple system you can immediately deploy.

Why Focus on Influencers?

Social media is a great way to develop strategic partnerships with key influencers and stay informed about what’s happening in your industry.

But you must focus your efforts to ensure that time spent in social media packs a punch.

A study from Forrester Research confirms that 13.4% of U.S. adults online create 80% of the content that influences people. And 6.2% of these web users are responsible for 80% of the influence in social media.

mass connections

This Forrester Research study illustrates the power of connecting with the right people.

How can you monitor and create relationships with the influencers relevant to your business?

Create a Short List of Key Influencers

Fortunately, there are tools and processes to help you reduce the amount of noise in social media. You can use these to concentrate on the key influencers who can move the needle for your business.

The goal is to find these key influencers and create a filter that allows you to communicate with them. This helps you develop a positive relationship with the influencers, which can grow your business.

Here is the 4-step process to develop your list.

Step 1: Come Up With a Seed List of Targets

The key to this first step is using tools to find the right people to “seed” your list.

During this first step, remember this:

  • There is no need to obsess over finding every influencer.
  • Don’t worry if you aren’t 100% sure a person should make the list. Add him or her and move on.

This initial “seed” list of influencers will lead you to others you may want on your list. Some will be removed from your list (more on that in Step 3).

To begin, find between 10 and 20 influencers to start the process. Then, create a spreadsheet with the influencers’ names and the URLs of their various social media accounts.

You’ll access this spreadsheet later when you set up the tools to monitor these influencers.

Then access “influence-scoring” websites like Klout, Kred or PeerIndex.

peer index

PeerIndex allows brands to identify, engage with and reward consumers who are influential in relevant categories and are likely to drive positive brand perception or sales.

Influence-scoring websites (while not perfect) are developing increasingly sophisticated algorithms that determine the influence of an individual on the social web.

For example, a software company in the cloud computing space searching “cloud computing” inside Klout would find a number of influencers to add to their list.

cloud computing

A cloud computing company would do well to add these three influencers to their “seed” list.

A food blogger would find a great starting point for his list.

foodies

A food blogger would quickly find these three influencers to add to their list by using Klout.

Another great place to start looking for online influencers is Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop.

Alltop aggregates the top blogs on a number of different topics. Top bloggers from most niches can be found using this free service.

For example, a copywriter who specializes in ebooks would find a number of influential bloggers on Alltop.

alltop ebooks

This is just three of the dozens of influential blogs listed on Alltop for the term ‘eBooks.’

A blogger who’s interested in content marketing would find no shortage of connections to add to their list.

alltop content marketing

Three of the most influential blogs in the Content Marketing space as listed on Alltop.

For some industries, LinkedIn Groups is a great place to hunt for influencers. You’ll find that the organizers and active members within these groups are often influential.

For example, a business interested in connecting with home builders would find a number of LinkedIn Groups to join and mine for influential people.

linkedin group builders

LinkedIn Groups has 121 results related to the term ‘home builders.’

A freelance web designer would not be disappointed by the options in LinkedIn Groups.

linkedin groups web design

LinkedIn Groups contains over 1500 results for the term ‘web design.’

You can use LinkedIn’s search function or use this LinkedIn Groups directory to get started.

Lastly, Facebook pages are a good place to find influencers to add to your initial short list.

An organization wanting to get connected to influencers in the fight against muscular dystrophy would find a number of pages and events dedicated to the cause.

facebook muscular dystrophy

Facebook has a number of highly influential pages dedicated to the fight against Muscular Dystrophy.

An entertainment blogger covering the pop music scene would find plenty of influential pages within Facebook, as well.

facebook pop music

Facebook is a great starting point for those interested in connecting with influencers connected to entertainment.

You can use Facebook’s search function to find popular and active pages. Or use this Facebook pages directory.

Ultimately, the goal is to find individual influencers and the online sites where they are spending their time.

When you find an influencer on one channel, you’ll likely find this same influencer on a number of other online channels as well.

For example, a blogger you find on Alltop will likely have a heavy presence on Twitter. Similarly, the admin of a popular Facebook page may be managing an active LinkedIn Group.

By the end of this step, you should have a spreadsheet containing between 10 and 20 “seed” influencers. Record the URLs of the Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter feeds and LinkedIn Groups for each of these influencers in this spreadsheet.

You’ll need this spreadsheet for the next step.

Step 2: Monitor Members of the List

It’s time to start setting up the tools to monitor and communicate with those on your list.

There are two main tools that can be used to make it easier to open the lines of communication between you and your list group.

The first tool is Google Reader. Nearly every major influencer will own and operate a blog with an RSS feed.

Open up your spreadsheet and navigate to each influencer’s blog.

One of the great features of Google Reader can be found by clicking on Settings, then Reader Settings and then Goodies.

google reader settings

Open your Google Reader, click on the settings icon and then Reader Settings. Then, click on Goodies.

One of the Goodies is a bookmarklet under the heading “Subscribe as you surf.” This bookmark can be dragged into your browser to allow you to subscribe to a blog in your Google Reader while you are on that blog.

subscribe bookmark

The Subscribe Bookmark allows you to add an RSS feed to your Google Reader while you are on that blog.

Navigate to each blog in your spreadsheet and click the “Subscribe” bookmarklet to add the RSS feed to your Google Reader.

The goal here is to aggregate all of the blog content created by your influencers into one easy-to-access web page.

For example, my Google Reader contains the blog content from my short list.

my google reader

My Google Reader is brimming with content from the most influential people in my industry.

Your Google Reader is one tool that you can use on a daily basis to quickly get up to speed on the conversations your list is creating and contributing to. Your goal will be to become part of those conversations (more on that in Step 4)

The second tool is HootSuite combined with Twitter Lists and LinkedIn Groups.

Twitter Lists are a powerful way to segment and filter Tweets from people you are following. HootSuite further simplifies Twitter, LinkedIn and to some extent Facebook by organizing activity into side-by-side “streams.”

Let’s begin with Twitter.

First, create a new Twitter list called “Short List” and add each of your influencers to this new Twitter List.  If you are unfamiliar with creating lists there is a full tutorial from Twitter here.

Once your Twitter List is created, add that Twitter list to a stream in your HootSuite dashboard.  This is a full tutorial from HootSuite on creating a stream from a Twitter list.

Your HootSuite will look like this:

hootsuite streams

HootSuite arranges your Twitter activity into easy to use side-by-side columns called “streams.”

In the above image, you see two Twitter streams.

The stream on the left is my home Twitter feed and it’s cluttered and unorganized containing the tweets of all 613 people I am following.  On the right is my short list feed.   With only 41 members on my list, this feed is very focused and easy to monitor.

Secondly, import the LinkedIn Groups your influencers are a part of.

You can find a full tutorial on importing LinkedIn Groups to HootSuite here.

adding linkedin groups

Setting up LinkedIn Groups to be monitored in HootSuite is a snap.

Monitoring Facebook Pages that you don’t have administration rights to is more of a manual process for me.  Logging into Facebook to monitor and communicate can be cumbersome but, if you stay focused, this can be a fairly efficient process.

I use good, old-fashioned bookmarks in my browser to easily access the Facebook pages of my influencers.

If someone out there is using an inexpensive (preferably free) tool to aggregate, organize and filter information from Facebook pages, it would be much appreciated if you drop me a comment.

At the end of this step, you will have the tools and processes in place to monitor and communicate with your list. You will have created a filter that allows you to get the most ROI out of time spent in social media.

The difficult part is over. It’s now time to start reaping the benefits.

But first, understand that building your list is a process, not an event.

Step 3: Continuously Refine the List

As mentioned in Step 1, there’s no need to create a perfect list from the beginning. Your list will evolve over time.

The main reason your list will evolve is that finding one influencer will lead you to other influencers. You’ll see them communicating with each other, creating content about each other and promoting each others’ products, services and events.

When you discover these influencers, add them to your list.

You should also prune your list frequently to ensure that it remains short and thus efficient.

You might remove members for a number of reasons including:

  • You misjudged their level of influence.
  • They aren’t relevant to you.
  • You don’t want to endorse what they are doing.

This last point is important.

In Step 4 on building relationships, you’ll be promoting and associating yourself with this influencer. It is often the case that, while a person is influential, he may not be congruent with your brand or your values. These influencers should be dropped from your list.

Step 4: Build Relationships With the Short List

You don’t need to speak much at first. Listen.

In fact, listening is one of the most powerful uses of social media and organizing your social media using this list makes listening efficient.

If you see a way you can provide assistance to an influencer, do it. When you provide assistance, you build credibility, trust and social capital with the influencer.

Here are a few ways to build relationships with members of your short list:

  • Promote their content, cause and products
  • Comment on their content
  • Contribute to their Facebook pages and LinkedIn Groups
  • Message them when appropriate
  • Create content for them
  • Attend their events
  • Buy their products and services
  • Hire them as a coach or consultant
  • Send them referrals

Members of your short list want to grow their influence, make more money and save time.  If you regularly address these issues for them, you’ll grow your relationship.

Be Careful With the List

One word of caution—don’t make the mistake of ignoring the larger social web. Everyone, to a degree, is an influencer on the social web.

The short list process is a great way to use social media to grow your influence, but don’t forget that there are other reasons for using social media.

Depending on your business, you’ll likely need to use social media to improve customer service, increase client retention and address any number of business goals.

This short list provides you with an organized, efficient way to interact with key influencers for the purposes of growing your own influence.

It’s a powerful tool. It gives you the ability to filter out the noise in social media and focus on areas that are most likely to get results for your business.

Use this process to be more efficient and effective in social media and you’ll find key influencers adding you to their short list.

What do you think? How would you improve this short list process? How could you put it to work for your own business? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Russ Henneberry

Russ Henneberry is a content marketing and analytics professional. You can connect with Russ on his personal blog, Content Measures. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Great article, Russ. These days social media appears to be more like a marketplace full of people and we really need to devise a way to filter out the noise. 
    I agree with you that entrepreneurs should come up with a list of people who can really help their business. This might seemed like a tedious process, but it’s going to be worth the trouble in the long run. 
    SME rocks!

  • http://freshome.com Mihai

    What about those “influencers” that just broadcast their content on their social channels. You can see that lots of big magazines and brands do it, without bothering replying to their readers.

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Thanks John!  I think it is important for Internet marketers to remember that the majority of business owners don’t spend their day on social media.  

    These business owners are busy running a consulting business, accounting practice, cleaning company, etc.  They understand the significance of social media but they need a solution that takes into account the realities of running a traditional business. 

    They get frustrated with social media because they don’t see a way to cut through the chatter and get something accomplished.

    This system has proven to allow busy business owners to stay focused during the short amount of time they can dedicate to social media.

    Thanks for adding your thoughts John!  

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Hi Mihai,
    It’s a great question.  I think Jay Baer at Convince and Convert often refers to this as failing to answer the social media telephone.  

    Rather than adding this magazine Twitter account to your short list, I would be looking for key influencers (like editors and writers) at these publications to connect with.  

    The Twitter accounts for these publications are often little more than a syndicated RSS feed that their readers can follow for easy access to their content.

  • http://www.imcasts.com/ Paul Gray

    Nice post – I think that it’s really important and grow out from there as it can be difficult keeping up with more than 20 industry influencers; especially when starting out with social media marketing.

  • http://influitive.com/ Abdallah Al-Hakim

    This post is packed with advice! As you pointed out, many of the top influencers are active on their (and other) blogs’ commenting sections. While liking or sharing their post is useful, I find that commenting on their blogs is a more powerful method to get engaged with them. This is not a one time process but rather a continuous process that will build your relationship with them as well as give you a better understanding of their thoughts. Here is a link to Engagio (www.engag.io) which is a terrific productivity tool to help you manage your conversations (FYI. I work for Engagio).

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Good stuff, Russ!  I’ve seen success come to small businesses who do this consistently… they spend the time needed to tweak their list to find the right people to connect with and review their connections as their business evolves.  

  • http://freshome.com Mihai

     Yes you are right, but sometimes not even the writers answer ..talking about really big magazines. It seems sometimes they need to be skipped or try harder.

  • http://freshome.com Mihai

     Yep, it’s hard to keep up with 20 industry influencers ..and sometimes these 20 are just on one platform. :)

  • http://twitter.com/GemWriting Georgina El Morshdy

    Hi Russ, thanks for writing this great article. With social media becoming noisier it’s more important than ever to find ways to work smarter. If you don’t you can end up wasting time sifting through endless tweets instead of making time for quality engagement. As you say building relationships with key influencers is so important for many reasons, and I can see how lists are a powerful way to make it happen. Great stuff :-)

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    No question.  These folks are busy, busy, busy. 

    One thing I didn’t mention in this article (because it is already lengthy) is that every person on your list doesn’t need to be a rock star.  Certainly there should be some of that but some of the folks that can influence your business the most (particularly right away) have the same level of influence as you. 

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Thanks Cindy!  I agree, building relationships is a function of time and consistent focused effort.  Focus is what this short list process is all about.

  • http://freshome.com Mihai

     Love to see you replying to every comment. You’re giving a great example to everybody !

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Thanks Georgina!  It’s true.  The simplest metric to measure in social media is number of followers, connections, likes, etc.  Therefore we spend most of our time creating meaningless connections to pad these numbers.

    For traditional business owners it’s much more lucrative (and realistic) to nurture and cultivate a small number of highly effective relationships.  
    Thanks for adding your thoughts Georgina!  

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Agreed. It’s important to start with a small list.  And, it’s important to keep this list fairly small.  If you start small you can adjust up or down from there to meet your “social media bandwidth.”  

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

     Thanks Abdallah for the compliments on this post!  I look forward to checking out Engagio.

  • http://strategy-keys.com/ David Willden

    Really substantive and well written article.   Thanks for re-orienting my thinking  - “cultivate a small number of highly effective relationships.”

  • Cmaillob

    Great article!  Congrats.

    Just one question, what are the benefits of using Hootsuite over TweetDeck?  You could create your own column of influencers on TweetDeck as well.  In fact, I already have one.

    Thank you!
    Cris.

  • 123JoeCape456

    Thank you Russ.  This is a terrific article.  Talk about “content”, it really delivers!_!  I am looking forward to future articles.  Keep up the outstanding work!_!   Joe/  www.cape-ableconsultants.com

  • http://www.memarketingservices.com/ Mandy Edwards

    Hey Russ!  I love this!  I have been blogging about social influence for a few weeks on my site and actually published a post yesterday on how to measure someone’s social influence!  Popular topic these days!

  • http://getlittlebird.com/ Marshall Kirkpatrick

    Russ, this is very well articulated and I’m sure it’s going to be crazy awesome evergreen content.  Having done a lot of Step 1 myself as a journalist and consultant, I know that part can take way too long.  That’s why I started the company I’m building, Little Bird (getlittlebird.com), to automate that part of the process.  We discover more and better lists of influencers than anyone else or manual efforts.  

    I believe that part should be automated because the rest of it really can’t be.

    The one thing I would put differently is in the forms of engagement.  I would summarize the list of ways to engage (share their content, comment on it, etc.) that you’ve written here as “add value to their lives.”  It’s one thing to share or contribute content to their content, but I think the tone of that engagement should be focused on not just being present but being high value and indispensable.

    Here’s how I often advise consulting clients on how to do it:  It’s like a dance.  You can build systems that make it easy for you to reach out and touch someone – and add value to their work and lives.  Then, they’ll turn around and look at you to see who it was that just added that value.  If you’ve got a good web presence that’s valuable beyond what you contributed to them, then that touch point is an opportunity to hook them to become one of your readers, instead of just the other way around.  Sometimes that touch has to be repeated, each time you reach out and touch someone is another opportunity to gain traction with them.  The more value you add, the more traction you’ll get.  Wash, rinse and repeat and if you can pull it all off in a dignified way that adds real value – you can transition from being a voice from the outside trying to earn your way in – to instead just being a core member of the community in question.  

    That’s how I talk about it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=616700240 Raminta Malinauskaite

    Great article, Russ, thanks!

    Although I find that following Twitter lists is time-saving, it’s important to check the timeline (with all the people that you’re following) from time to time. I’ve stumbled upon some really useful information this way, which I wouldn’t have found otherwise. 

    One frustration that I find with LinkedIn groups is many of them are not country-specific, and in many cases I only need to concentrate on the influencers in the UK.

    And in regards to following FB pages – I read my page’s news feed. As a page you don’t have friends, so your news feed is made up of updates from other pages only.

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

     It’s been a while since I have played with Tweetdeck but I remember that it is similar to Hootsuite.  I do believe that TweetDeck can manage this short list process.

    Thanks for this question!

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  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

     Just read your post, very well done!  Yes, social influence is a very hot topic right now.  Great reading from Mark Schaefer on the subject over at businessesgrow.com.

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Great points Raminta.  I completely agree. It’s not a good idea to spend 100% of your social media time focused on your short list. 

  • http://twitter.com/wuyiye Yiye Wu

    Thanks for the wonderful post, Russ!

    I am doing marketing for a firm manufacturing/selling indoor sports goods, like billiards, tablet tennis tables, and dartboards. By far, I’ve done some research and found that few people blog/tweet about these products/pool games on social media, so it’s really difficult for me to develop a list of social influencers.

    Any idea what can I do?

    Thanks!

  • Timmygrimes

    How this post doesn’t feature Follower Wonk I beyond me.

  • Kevin Cook

    Love this! I’ve been doing almost the exact same thing (using Klout, since PeerIndex looks a bit similar). The hardest part though, is getting a client to simply start the conversational outreach! They’re so focused on the push push push! That they forget it’s all about the relationship first, then the pull! Nobody wants a friend that’s constantly trying to sell them something! 

    Saving this article for later, and just sent a copy to my PR team! 

  • meercat007

    Informative article, Russ. Regarding your question about monitoring Facebook Pages… what I like to do is creating so-called “Interest Lists.” You simply navigate to the Facebook Page you’d like to add, click the drop down next to the Message button and select either an existing list or create a new one.

  • futuredoll

    Thanks Russ! I have found that putting in a little extra effort to be-friend infrequencers really benefits both of you. The mentor/mentee relationship is a great building block.

  • http://twitter.com/daveshiba Dave Shiba

    Great article Russ!  There are so many people pushing so much content that it’s hard to know who to listen to.  You’ve outlined some logical steps on how to use social media to find the ‘right people’, which will then  push great content right to you in one place.

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  • http://www.kevinmullett.com Kevin Mullett

    Some really great stuff here Russ. It is always cool to see what techniques are the same, and of course which differ. With regard to tracking Facebook, I have used this method if the influencer has a FB Page http://sem-group.net/search-engine-optimization-blog/subscribe-to-your-favorite-facebook-page-via-rss/. I have not found a new way to get them for friends, and am unsure if one exists for subscriptions.

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

     Thanks for the compliment David.  Much appreciated!

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

     Very well said Marshall and thanks for adding this.  Little Bird looks very interesting!

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

     Hi Timmy,
    Apologies, but I haven’t used Follower Wonk.  From what you’ve said on Twitter it sounds great.  I did see that this tool was acquired by SEO Moz a while ago.  Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    I see the same things Kevin.  This is why I advise people to listen first and observe the protocol that goes on in the various social media channels. 

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

     Right Dave.  The idea here is to create a Dashboard using Hootsuite and Google Reader that will filter a lot of that noise.  Glad you found the article helpful!

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

     Excellent!  Thanks for adding this Margit.  I had a feeling the SME community would have something to share about easily monitoring Facebook pages!

  • Sarah Bauer

    Thanks for the article, Russ!
    You mention that once an influencer list has been created, the next step to take is to simply listen to the conversations going on between influencers ( and their influencers!). I think listening is hugely important, especially for small business owners who are fairly new to social media marketing, and who may feel unsure of how to approach influencers and offer assistance that is valuable. Just listening to the conversations, and getting a feel for voice and formality (or lack thereof), could determine how positive one’s introduction is to an influential person online. 
    Cheers,
    Sarah Bauer

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Excellent question.  

    Here are a few thoughts…
    Are you looking for a celebrity endorser?  If so, scour the web and find the biggest and brightest pool and billiard rock stars.  Find the niche bloggers that create content about these rock star pool players.  Look on YouTube for billliard trick shot artists that have lots of subscribers, etc.

    Are you looking for end customers?  If so, I would be looking for bloggers that are writing about men, man cave’s, groom’s wedding gifts, home entertainment, etc — I would find out who is behind a blog like this – http://www.werd.com/17452/wood-steel-foosball-table/  Are you looking for distributors?  Move to LinkedIn and search for purchasing managers at retail chains that sell indoor sporting goods.  Join any LinkedIn Groups they are members of.  Find the Twitter accounts of associations and conferences and comb through their followers.  In this case, combing through the accounts that are following the World Pool Association here – https://twitter.com/poolwpa/followers — would turn up a Twitter account like this – https://twitter.com/rockstar_13_ (pro dart player) — And you would see that this Pro Dart Player talks via Twitter to – https://twitter.com/dynamitedarter and so on and so on. I’m not saying that any of these folks can make a difference for your client.  Without knowing the exact circumstances it is difficult to put together a plan.  I do know that where you find someone talking about pool, darts, table tennis, men’s gifts, home entertainment, etc  you will find others with the same interests.  Hope that helps!

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  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Thanks Joe for your kindness!  I hope to contribute more articles here as well.

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Thanks for adding this Kevin!  

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Sarah — my thoughts exactly.  I advise clients that are new to social media to “lurk” for a while and soak up the protocol.  It makes a huge difference!  

    Thanks for commenting on this post Sarah!

  • Jamie Millar

    I use Sprout Social for social media management an asked if they can bring LinkedIn group feeds into their platform (after reading this article) – apparently HootSuite is the only third party application that currently has permission to do this (unless anyone can qualify that?). Sprout is ‘chomping at the bit’ to get this functionality as others are, no doubt.

    Really great and informative post, Russ, thanks!

  • http://www.mycustardpie.com/ MyCustardPie

    Excellent article as always. However, for many businesses, identifying global influencers is only part of the picture. I am always looking for tools to identify influencer within a geographic location (outside the US too). Any recommendations?

  • Vivien

    I’ve a question which is separate from the influencer topic.

    Please advise how I can go about measuring the success of my social media platforms for FB, Twitter & LinkedIn?

    I know that targets need to be set, but what kind of targets? Number of Likes do not translate to measurement of success, and it’s more important to have people being engaged in conversations & the quality of those conversations.

    Are there more measurements I should be looking into?      

  • Sam@India trip

    When you will get success to build relationship in social media then you can feel himself how this source will help you to make your identity in front of others.

  • http://www.engage-2012.com/ Richard Darwin

    Thanks for writing such a good and informative article. Finding and “following” influential people on social media is a big issue nowadays. People are trying to get inspiration everywhere and this is a good way how to achieve it.

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  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    The question of “success” is entirely tied to the goals of your social media campaigns.  

    Are you trying to drive traffic, create new sales, retain existing customers, create more referrals, increase awareness?  

    Social Media Examiner has a number of posts on measuring social media success, I would start here – http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/4-social-media-goals/

    Hope this helps Vivien!

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Sally, great question!  Take a look at FollowerWonk.com.  They have a tool called “Search Twitter bios” that can be segmented by geographic location.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/artemis.liontas Artemis Liontas

    great article. helped alleviate the pressure. I will follow the instructions to see how successful I will get! thanks a lot

  • Kevin S

    Nice article, Russ.  Are you aware of LinkedIn’s new “Thought Leaders” feature?  This is another great way to “subscribe” to influencers.   http://blog.linkedin.com/2012/10/02/follow-people/

  • http://www.voziq.com/ Ajay

    Great stuff and action plan to put into action immediately. Thank you

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  • http://twitter.com/triciamilo Tricia Milo

    Finding and establishing relationships with your target ‘influencers’ on Social Media by ‘listening’…
    That’s the BEST, but most UNDERRATED communication skill! Thanks for the ‘reminder’! Seems like everybody’s ‘talking’! 

  • http://twitter.com/wuyiye Yiye Wu

    Thanks a million Russ. These are truly constructive suggestions.The examples that you give me are excellent places to start.  I’ll try them out and let you know how they turn out!

  • http://www.ydeveloper.com/e-smart-ecommerce-suite.html Ydeveloper

    Topsy and other tools similar to this like social mention will be helpful to find out infrequence in any niche.

  • Dan Purvis

    Very good article, Russ – thanks for the top tips and advice.  However I would urge caution for using so-called influence ranking tools, particularly the free ones.  They are rudimentary by nature and open to gaming to artificially inflate scores…yes, I’m a cynic (see my post on Social Influence here: http://digitalmusings.net/does-social-influence-really-matter/)  but I do see the value in ranking social individuals – providing it is done right. Gaining a 360 degree profile of an individual’s digital footprint can be immensely powerful for brands seeking to grow and engage with their community (or associated communities), especially for garnering support and brand advocates to spread their word way beyond their own reach.

    However, too much stock is put in these free ranking tools, which become more of a popularity contest.  They’re not as accurate as they could be, owing to them being free and also based more on quantity than quality.

    There is no miracle cure for this, and we’re still a long way from delivering accurate rankings.  It should be about relevance and context…algorithms (indeed any Artificial Intelligence) cannot ascertain these parameters as they look at tweets out of context.

    But this is a great process that you outline to help overcome some of the inadequacies of the free ranking tools, thanks!

  • http://www.imaginativetraining.com/ Renée

    This is a great article, well articulated and full of useful links – particularly, for me, the Facebook Directory.  So thanks for posting!  I rely heavily on my Hootsuite list to keep on top of who’s posting good content – in fact that’s how I stumbled upon you!!

  • http://twitter.com/JuliaBramble BrambleBuzz

    Fantastic advice and tips on how to systemise and focus your social media listening – thanks so much. I also use the keywords in the advanced search function on LinkedIn to find influencers to follow not only on LinkedIn but also on Twitter (scroll down their profile to get to their Twitter name) and their blogs. In addition, I follow people who make great contributions to LinkedIn group discussions – although I can’t see any easy way of bringing that additional level of content into the great system you’ve outlined here.

    Once again, the discussion in the comments is as useful as the actual article – hurrah for all the sharing !

  • http://www.memarketingservices.com/ Mandy Edwards

    Thanks Russ!  I will go check that out!

  • http://www.57pixelmedia.com/ Gagan

    Great Article. Time is money and Money is time, these excellent focus tip will help business owners move in right  directions. Iam making some changes and can see the results. My first step was my Linkedin profile.

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  • Marcia

    I loved this article because it is straight forward and explains very well how to get started building relationships with leaders and shakers in any industry.  I already use some of the ideas you set out here in my niche passion of scrapbooking.  I was glad to be able to print this to refer to again later.  Thanks for a great article.

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  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

     Thanks Dan!  And I agree — I mostly use my own proprietary social influence ranking tool — my noggin.  :)

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Thanks Renee!  I’m glad you found it useful!  Yes, Hootsuite and Twitter lists combined together can do wonders for organizing Twitter.

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Good tip!  Thanks!  You are right, the discussion going on in these comments is fantastic! 

  • http://twitter.com/RussHenneberry Russ Henneberry

    Thanks Marcia!

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  • http://www.proservicesks.com Frank Woodman Jr

    One of the best laid out and constructive articles I’ve seen on setting up a targeted list of key people. Anyone can follow and profit from this advice. And while I’ve used many if not most of these methods and tools I’ve certainly not so carefully mapped out the methodology to manage the process any where nearly as completely as you have. 

    But you can bet that I’ll be setting up a system that follows or copies yours to more fully manage things after digesting your suggestions. Especially in the area of better research to find the people that I want to develop engagement with as this is one area that I see I’ve failed to really address. 

    So thanks for all your guidance… and by the way you’re certainly going to be on that list my friend.

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  • http://www.contentmeasures.com/ Russ Henneberry

    Wow.  Thanks Frank!  I appreciate your high praise — and the fact that you will add me to your short list.  :)

  • http://www.proservicesks.com Frank Woodman Jr

    Well Russ I’ve not got you added as a follow on Twitter and sent you a Linkedin connection request and soon as my new page on FaceBook is set up I’ll add you there if you friend me. And on checking more into your current activities through your web site was even more impressed with the approach you take to helping true small businesses. 

    Most don’t realize that when they hear the government, banks, and other businesses organizations talk about small businesses they have a much different criteria and meaning to “small business” than most small business owners do. The government for example, as you know, considers a small businesses as one that has a total gross business of 1 million or more for even the lowest classes of businesses categories and banks and other groups are the same.

    So as your site rightly says what most beginning businesses truly are classified as is micro-businesses, solopreneurs, or freelancers for they are not considered “small businesses”  by the main stream definition. And so as one who also works with many starting businesses that fall into those categories I appreciate that you are working hard to help them build and grow while most groups and agencies truly do little or nothing for them at all.

  • http://www.contentmeasures.com/ Russ Henneberry

    Thanks Frank!  Exactly.  There is an enormous difference between a small business and a microbusiness (or tiny business as I call them.)  The crazy thing is that these tiny businesses make up 78% of the businesses in the U.S.  Glad to connect with you Frank!

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  • Dan Purvis

    Perfect – good stuff!

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