I think it goes without saying that just about everyone in the digital marketing space is looking to become an influencer in one way or another.
Whether you want to improve your authority amongst potential clients, find yourself speaking at a conference, or even publish your own book, you first need to build your overall authority and influence.
Over a decade ago, I started off on a journey in digital marketing that was based almost completely on building my influence as an SEO and Social Media Marketer, so I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for me over the years.
“Influence will lead marketing efforts by 2020,” according to Ted Coine. “It’s the most effective form of ‘advertising’ there is…”
1. Write About News or Features
Whether it’s on your own blog, a third party site like LinkedIn or Medium, or guest writing on a site like Search Engine Journal, I strongly believe writing is one of the core ways to build your influence.
I also think one of the key angles you should write about is to cover news and review features from various sites, tools, or communities, both in beta and just being released. Not only does it keep your name visible in the most current of topics, it also allows you to provide one of the most valuable aspects of an influencer; the cliff notes we all care about.
Tips to improve your success:
- Follow the Developer and Support sections of all the platforms or services related to your business or expertise. I cannot count the number of times we have found developers talking openly about coming features or explaining how existing features work in a way that was unknown to the masses, allowing me the opportunity to write about these before most people even knew they existed. Additionally, this allows you to identify areas of discussion where people are looking for guidance and show you which articles would make you the most helpful and influential.
- Work to join any Beta programs available which give you access to features well before anyone else. Even if they are not advertising a program, spend some time connecting with developers and then ask them to be included in any testing. I have been in Beta programs for Google, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Yahoo Buzz, and many others over the years, which definitely helped with my influence as a Social Media Marketer and an SEO.
- Make sure to not only write about a specific news event or feature but also add in a personal expert commentary, summarizing how the news or feature would benefit your readers. This is essential to increasing your influence and authority, as it shows not only that you are following the news and features, but that you have enough overall understanding and expertise to have an opinion and comment about them.
2. Build Connections and Relationships With Real Influencers
At my first conference, I remember watching Matt Cutts being swarmed by eager SEOs just waiting to get a question in. I remember hearing someone comment that he doesn’t drink alcohol at conferences, preferring to only drink Sprite, so instead of getting in line and waiting to ask my one question of probably the most influential person in Search Marketing at the time, I went to the bar and grabbed a Sprite.
I walked over and handed it to him, saying by the looks of this crowd, you seem like you could use a Sprite, nodded and walked away. He smelled it, smiled, and took a drink. From that point on Cutts and I were pretty good friends, leading to me being invited to more than one NDA meet and greet at Google’s headquarters, as well as many private conversations that helped me in my SEO career a ton!
I have many stories like this, but the point is: you are who you surround yourself with.
Take the time to build real friendships with influencers in your space, as it will result in your influence increasing (as well as earning you a few cool friends, which everyone could use more of).
Tips to improve your success:
- Identify influencers you would actually want to be friends with. Find some common interests, listen to their interviews, read their comments on posts, and find areas of similar interest or expertise to potentially connect around.
- Always do something for your new friend first, before ever asking for anything for yourself.
- Try only connecting with one to two people at a time, so you can focus and be genuine with your interactions.
- Interact with influencers multiple times, through commenting, replying, or contacting, prior to trying to meet them in person or at an event.
3. Make Yourself Available to be Heard
Being quoted or interviewed for influential and well-known publications can help immensely in improving your influence as a marketer. Not only are you exposed in a very prominent way to new audiences, but you can also reference being published in prominent publications to help improve your perceived influence through your own channels. I have seen many experts reference their publications on LinkedIn, in their biographies, and on their websites.
Signing up for services like HARO, a site where reporters and individuals are connected, can help you identify opportunities where a publication might be looking to connect with experts in your space.
Additionally, you can reach out to reporters and authors who are already covering topics you would like to be included in, to offer yourself as a source for future articles.
As Ann Handley said to me, when I asked her what she thought about growing your influence; “The road to influence is paved in generosity..” So be generous and share your expertise with others. As she said:
“The etymology of influence or “authority” is the Latin “auctoritas,” which also eventually gave us “author.”
That root makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Because the best authors give generously of their knowledge, with honest empathy for the needs and burdens of their audiences.
“Authoritarian” types might think that authority gives permission to strong-arm or bully. But true authorities know that you can only earn authority from generously helping others.
So the road to influence is paved with generosity. Help others in any way and in any format you can — via blog posts, questions, videos, Facebook Lives, or wherever un-answered questions live!”
Tips to improve your success:
- Although HARO offers a free service, try out their paid subscriptions, as they offer features that could increase your chance of being contacted by an author or journalist.
- Review sources you would like to get quoted in, identifying which authors tend to include quotes. Make efforts to connect with the authors that you feel are more likely to reach out to you when they need quotes.
4. Quote Influential People
As Oprah Winfrey would say, “surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
I did this a little while back on an article I wrote called “The Logic Behind One Thought, One Paragraph”, which quoted a number of experts on the topic. You have probably noticed already, but I did the same thing with this article, reaching out to known experts on influence, like Kristopher Jones who had this to say when asked some of the things that worked for him:
“Launch your own Ask Me Anything (AMA) series. That’s what I did back in January and I’ve been able to engage with tens of thousands of people. Leveraging Facebook Live has allowed me to interact in real-time with followers that I normally don’t get to connect with and in the process I’m able to deliver value, which I believe is the hallmark of influencer marketing.”
When you reach out to experts and influencers around a topic which you are writing about, you not only improve the quality of the article and the information it contains but in your readers’ eyes you also elevate your level of authority and influence.
Even the ability to acquire a quote from an influencer, says something to your influence.
Tips to Improve Your Success:
- Once you have received a quote from a selected expert or influencer, connect with them on any social channels you feel make sense. Review their social accounts to see where they are active to help you decide where to connect. This way you can continue to engage with them going forward.
- When your article is completed and published, send it to the people you quoted, as they are likely to share it with their followers, improving your influence and visibility as a whole.
5. Share Your Expertise
I would guess that if you are really looking to increase your influence, you have at least a couple of skills you are worthy of being an influencer for, so start showing off your skills whenever possible.
Webinars are great opportunities to share your expertise with a potentially large and eager audience. Whether you create and host your own, partner with someone to have the opportunity to host a webinar with their audience, or purchase the ability to host a webinar, it can be an extremely effective way of increasing your influence.
“Podcasting is a great way to build targeted influence, especially if you create a solid, interview-based show. Asking smart questions of well-known guests positions you as a relevant player in the field.” ~ Jay Baer
Like webinars, people are listening to podcasts in an effort to learn from experts and influencers, so they are primed to view you as both.
Search around for who hosts webinars and podcasts, start interacting with them, and then when the time is right you can broach the topic of being a guest.
Additionally, there are a number of sites like Quora and Inbound, where you have the opportunity to answer user’s questions and showcase your expertise. One side benefit of participating in Q&A sites is the insight you get into what people are looking to learn, which can lead to really effective and timely articles.
Don’t forget online conversations, like the chats that occur on Twitter regularly, which provide great opportunities to not only show off your expertise but also connect with other influencers at the same time.
“Participate in Twitter chats. There are dozens of chats going on at any given time, and the more active chats can be great avenues for showing your knowledge on a topic. I started out participating in Twitter chats, and after a while, as I became better-known, I often was asked to be a guest on a chat. The amplification your tweets get, along with the wider visibility among people who care in a particular topic, is well worth the time spent.” ~ Amy Vernon
Tips to improve your success:
- When looking for podcasts to be a guest on, consider the audience, the format used for the show, and how often episodes are published. These can all help you in considering which podcasts to attempt to be a guest on.
- When answering questions on Q&A sites, it is acceptable and often times helpful to link back to resources you either created or are aware of. Don’t abuse this, but definitely take advantage of it to increase your influence.
6. Speak at a Conference
Public speaking is likely one of the most effective ways to increase your influence as a marketer, providing you dedicated time in front of other influencers and attendees, as well as providing the opportunity for interviews, media coverage, and other speaker opportunities.
Unfortunately, of all the tactics for increasing your influence, this might be one of the harder ones. That said, once you feel you have a number of the other discussed tactics working for you, then start throwing your name into the hat when conference speaker pitches open up for applicants.
Tips to improve your success:
- Review previous conference sessions to determine what topics a specific conference typically provides. This will help you in your pitch to be within a realm of interest while suggesting a slightly current or different angle on the topic.
- Identify the conference employees and hosts, so that you can begin engaging with them. Fair or not, a good amount of speaker selection is based on who you know. Impress someone associated with the conference ahead of time and it will improve your chances of being selected as a speaker.
7. Understand the Psychology Behind Influence
One of the best things you can do to really help improve your influence as a marketer is to really understand how influence works.
There are numerous videos you can watch on YouTube, courses you can take, as well as books you can read such as the best-selling book “Influence“, which can all help you understand some of the important aspects to influencing people.
You would be amazed at how even a simple change in vocabulary can have a significant impact on your efforts. For instance, take this example the author of Influence, Robert Cialdini, shared with me:
“When you are asking people for feedback on a proposal or plan, don’t request their ‘opinion’ on the matter. Instead ask for their ‘advice’ concerning it. Why? Because when people are asked for their advice, it puts them in a cooperative state of mind, which makes them more likely to support your idea.”
Tips to improve success:
Watch the following YouTube videos:
- The 6 Principles of Influence by Robert Cialdini
- Secrets from the Science Of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin
- The Power of Influence by Tony Robbins
Or check out this edX course from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania titled “Selling Ideas: How to Influence Others, and Get Your Message to Catch On.”
8. Be Truly Remarkable
“One crazy way to build influence is to do something truly remarkable. Like cure some disease. or build the next billion dollar unicorn company, or come up with truly new and innovative ideas (etc.) Too many people claim to be influential experts in their field but are actually somewhat unremarkable. People like Elon Musk or Bill Gates didn’t have to do influencer hacks to build their influence. They’re experts because they’ve accomplished amazing things.”
When my friend Larry Kim shared this with me recently, my first thought was, “Well I am not Elon Musk nor Bill Gates, so what remarkable thing would I do?”
The truth is we are all capable of finding something remarkable to do within our industry and if you want to increase your influence in marketing, then start finding that one thing that will help set you apart.
9. Go Forth & Influence
Call it drive, grit, or whatever you like, if you want to be a marketing influencer then you can do it, so long as you keep driving forward and never stop trying!
I hope that some of the above tips help you on your path and I look forward to hearing your story soon.