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How to build your influencers in social media

A little later this morning I will be presenting a webinar entitled How to Build Your Influencers in Social Media. It’ll probably be a lot different than you’d expect. In this webinar, I will be discussing all the things you’ll need to do to improve yourself, your position, your reputation, your attachment to and connection with the people who are already making things happen on the social mediasphere.

Here’s the secret: who the hell are you?  It all comes down to whether or not anyone knows — or cares to know — who you, your brand, your product, your employer, or your news are.  Are you already Kim Kardashian? Are you worth billions of dollars? Do you have a sex tape? Do you have a reality show? Are you a politician? Are you routinely on television?  If the answer to any of these questions are “yes” then you really don’t need either the webinar or even this article or the embedded Slideshare presentation.  You probably already have a publicist and an agent and folks are falling all over themselves help you monetize your millions of followers on Twitter.

However, I am assuming you’re not Scott Monty, David Armano, Geoff Livingston, Peter Corbett or even Peter Shankman and you’re not directly speaking for Ford, Edelman, Vocus, or even iStrategyLabs then you’re going to have to spend some time building your own brand.  It’s worthless and you don’t need to buy a Mansion, a Ferrari California, or even cool sunglasses to make it happen.

You Need to Become an Influencer Yourself, First

Becoming an influencer doesn’t require becoming the bee’s knees to everyone, just the right people. Are you Guy Kawasaki’s little bird that told him? That’s really all anyone really ever needs to be. Is Walt Mossberg obsessed with you? You’ll go far! Hell, I know for a fact that both Shel Israel and Shel Holz read my stuff! I’m golden.

Before you become the man that Brian Solis reads for inspiration, you’ll need to become compelling enough to be taken seriously on one or more core topics. You need to become a voice well before anyone ends up popping over religiously to glean wisdom and insight from your endlessly compelling and sublime mind.

You need to feather the nest first, filled with the bright shiny eggs of your creativity and mad skills even before you start trying to make any friends. Why? Well, even if someone doesn’t know you by name, if you’re lucky, they’ll surely Google you for your bone fides. Make sure you leave a trail of bread crumbs.

First, buy some domain names. Register domains that represent your name (chrisabraham.com, chris-abraham.com), your company (gerr.is, gerriscorp.com, gerris.co), and maybe what you do (bloggeroutreach.com). Buy as many as make sense and you can afford not to lose. Buy more than you need because you can let some go if they don’t resonate with you in the long run or if folks don’t like them. They’re petty cheap. I prefer OpenSRS as a registrar but GoDaddy’s fine, too.

Before you start knocking on doors, you need to create a comprehensive resource and repository of who you are and what you can do, including all your contact info. A home. A personal site. No, LinkedIn isn’t enough. And don’t be coy. Just put all your contact info out there. Who the hell do you think you are anyway, Thomas Pynchon?

Next, start a blog. Yes, it’s a lot of work, it’s often ignored, you’ll totally want to bail and you’ll end up resenting it. People will laugh at you. Bloggers are so 1996. So hashtag #lame. That said, if you stick with it, it’ll turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever done.

Always be willing to be smart for free. Too many people over-value their own creativity. They won’t share their art on the Internet because they’re afraid that everyone’ll steal all of their amazing work when in fact nobody cares at all — and people like that generally suck anyway and are in a terrible delusion. So, let your awesome shine. People generally won’t care about the things you say — or even notice — until they do. And, if you actually are smart and add generous and “free” to that, you’ll be discovered. And you turn “free” into not only paid but quite possibly royally compensated for how bloody brilliant you are. Are you a writer now? Are you making a living as a writer? Well, then who cares, just do it: become a writer for free. Budget the time as a marketing expense. Go ahead, put all of those salaried reporters, journalist, writers, and academics right out of work by doing it all for free. Give away all of your secrets! For your endless, gushing generosity, you’ll will be rewarded seven time seven.

Take it even further, well outside of your own site or blog. Be willing to be smart for free for any platform that will accept you as a topic expert: Forbes, Huffington Post, Fortune, Business 2 Community, Biznology, Socialmedia.biz, Social Media Today, Social Media Monthly, and even onto LinkedIn. So worth it!

Even if you don’t have a lot of gravitas at the moment, you can always get a “gravity assist” — the cosmic “slingshot effect” but leveraging the powerful gravity of big brands, known people, hot companies, or cool products that you’ve worked for in the past — even if you were working for someone else at the time. You can you your experience working with Kimberly Clark, Mizuno, 1U, CliqueMe, The Daily, Habitat for Humanity, Greenpeace, The Fresh Air Fund, International Medical Corps, Sharp, Pew, Alzheimer’s Association, , Edelman Public Affairs, Wal-Mart, Shell, GE, New Media Strategies, Sci-Fi Channel, Buena Vista, TomTom, Paramount Pictures, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Disney, Reebok, EA, RCA, T. Rowe Price, the US Department of Treasury CIO, Friendster, Deutsche Telekom, and NBC — just like I have done, shamelessly! See, it’s easy! Space Pod Chris Abraham just got flung into interstellar space by the gravity assist from all of those fine companies.

Read people not papers. Convert from the daily “morning paper” to the daily “morning feed.” Your future influencer corps is already publishing and sharing online – read them! ? Install and use Feedly and Flipboard to track your industry and influencers. Install the Buffer App to share across several/all of your platforms.

Do a social media land grab! Your goal is building your influencers in social media not becoming a top influencer. Don’t get lost as to your goals. Your goal isn’t becoming a writer or blogger. You’ll need to expand some. you’ll need to be in more places than just Twitter. Try out Knowem — it helps you register all of your profiles at once for what I think is a pretty reasonable fee considering how much work you’ll save.

Don’t be shy: find all your contacts on social media. All of the platforms allow you to “find your friends” and even though you’re pretty much “giving up” your friends’ contact info to social media and big data, it’s sort of the premium you need to pay to make all of this work out right. Sharing your address book with Twitter, Facebook, etc., is stupid and kind of a betrayal — but do it anyway. Why? Address books are static, dying, things. Social media is dynamic and allows engagement.

Stop being such a competitor. Life is a non-zero sum game. Make your competitors into your colleagues, vendors, clients, and partners. Just say no to snark: always be kind & generous!

Be nice but don’t be a pushover. Rob your competitors blind every change you get. Follow and friend people your competitors are as well as the people who are following them. There are lots of services that make following the followers and followed easy – at least on Twitter. I personally use SocialOomph and ManageFlitter to do my dirty work. Pretty much ManageFlitter only these days since they have a very interesting “semiautomatic” follow and follow back premium services that I could not live without.

This might be very controversial but buy your way into business! Twitter limits the number of people you can follow, right out of the box. Did you know that? it’s totally bogus, man! If you ’re too aggressive you’ll get blocked, locked out, or even banned.

What I do is I buy my clients an initial package of followers to give them some wiggle room from Fast Followerz. You can pretty much buy anything from them to get your client started. To get past that really awkward <10,000 place all at once. You can buy cheap just to get that wiggle room or you can spend some more and try to get some targeted followers.

Now, once you’ve done all of that, try being shamelessly generous and inclusive. Link shamelessly with these frenemies. Mention them shamelessly (just as I did a few paragraphs ago, right? See? I’m totally shameless, aren’t I?) Comment shamelessly on their own blogs and their own tweets and posts. Share shamelessly — and not just their work but anything you think is interesting. Strangely, people attribute intelligence and value to you even if you’re sharing other people’s content. You could become the de facto go to guy for industry news. The curator of the bunch. Write yourself into being part of their conversation (everyone notices everything).

And, don’t’ forget, people love helping. Ask for favors and help from these influencers well before you need them. Don’t collect influencers without “running them.” Grant assistance to your influencers and offer to help even when it’s not on behalf of a client or to curry favor. it’s a little like building credit: do it when it doesn’t matter – ask for little loans and pay them off plus interest. See, that’s how friendship works. It’s a back and forth. See, what you’re doing is building relationships here. How long did it take you to figure that you, you sociopath? People love to help (but have been hurt before). Be perceived as giving more than you get: win-win-win!

At the end of the day, no matter what you use to engage your “posse,” it wont work unless you ’re already best mates, you ’re a known entity (a star), you ’re a recognized brand, you have a stellar gift (a car) or you ’re willing to pay to play.

Just remember, even at the end of the day, you ’re not a wizard activating hoards of Robot Zombies. “Earned media” demands that you need to earn it — each and every time. In Latin, it’s called quid pro quo (“something for something” in Latin) It means an exchange of goods or services, where one transfer is contingent upon the other.

But this isn’t messing around on Facebook while you’re waiting in line at the DMV. You need to treat social media like a real job. Everybody’s real people. Hard work + time == social media success because there are very few overnight successes (and those overnight successes have probably been working at it for a decade before they became an overnight success anyway). To quote Philo of Alexandra, “be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” and remember, hugs not horns.

Good luck and go git ’em, Tiger!

Feel free to email me at chris@gerr.is or call me at +1 202-351-1235

Learn more about Chris Abraham at Gerris digital.

Chris Abraham

Chris Abraham

Chris Abraham, digital strategist and technologist, is a leading expert in digital: search engine optimization (SEO), online relationship management (ORM), Internet privacy, Wikipedia curationsocial media strategy, and online public relations with a focus on blogger outreachinfluencer engagement, and Internet crisis response, with the digital PR and social media marketing agency Gerris digital. [Feel free to self-schedule a 15-minute call, a 30-minute call, or a 60-minute call with me] A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and adviser to the industries' leading firms. Chris Abraham specializes in web technologies, including content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.  Chris Abraham was named a Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer by Forbes, #1 PR2.0 Influencer by Traackr, and top-10 social media influencers by Marketwire; and, for what it’s worth, Chris has a Klout of 79 the last time he looked. Chris Abraham started doing web development back in 1994, SEO in 1998, blogging in 1999, influencer engagement in 2003, social media strategy in 2005, blogger outreach in 2006, and Wikipedia curation in 2007. Feel free to self-schedule a 15-minute call, a 30-minute call, or a 60-minute call. If you want to know the services that Chris offers check out Services If you want to work with Chris use the Contact Form You're welcome to follow me via Social Media You can learn more about Chris over in About Chris writes a lot so check out the Blog Chris offers webinars so check Events

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