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This post was originally posted on the Minds On Design Lab Blog

Fostering engagement in social spaces can be challenging, especially if your nonprofit is still in the process of building your online community. The old “if you post it they will come” approach is slow and often produces less than impressive results. Tapping into the power of influencers can be an effective way to quickly amplify your efforts.

Copyblogger recently shared a post walking through an example influencer plan used to build a content marketing business. The approach and elements of the plan layout a great framework that can be applied to the nonprofit communications space as well.

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Photo Credit: altemark

 

Make A List

The first step to connecting with influencers is to know who they are. Take the time to make a list of who you feel are the key influencers in the social space for your particular focus area. For this list to be accurate and useful it should include the following:

  • Criteria of what you consider an “influencer” (lots of followers, well respected in field, etc)
  • Identify individuals/brands/organizations that meet the criteria
  • Ideally take the time to rank the list

 

The 4-1-1 Sharing System

It is no secret I love strategy and this simple one by Andrew Davis helps answer the question “what type of content should I share”. A question I continued to be asked on a regular basis when presenting on social media strategy. This approach breaks down your content strategy into three parts.

  • Four items of content from your identified list of influencers.
  • One item of original content with a focus on providing value (i.e. information, resources).
  • One item that is promotional or “salesy” talking about your programs or nonprofit in general.

I used a very similar approach years ago I referred to as the “80/20 rule” when getting established on Twitter. 80% other people’s content and 20% my own. I saw the following as the main benefits of using this approach:

  • Mimics real-life relationship building. Talk about others more than yourself
  • Demonstrates you know how to listen
  • Good curation is a powerful “value add” these days
  • Shows you know your topic/sector well

Keep in mind this content sharing strategy is focused on the goal of building relationships with influencers. Your strategy would likely be different if you were working towards different goals.

 

Deepen the Relationship

As your identified influencers begin notice your efforts (and good influencers will because they know how to listen) you will build better relationships. With these deeper connections you can explore other ways to further your engagement

  • Interview them for a blog post
  • Guest blog post
  • Invite them to participate at your conferences/events
  • Live Tweet/Blog their events

If you stay focused on this strategy it won’t take long to grow your online presence and community. The greatest result is that as you focus on listening to and interacting with influencers you will likely become recognized as one yourself. Leading to a point where others add you to their influencer list and actively share your content.

What are your best tips for connecting with influencers in social spaces?

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