Local influencers – the people who can really drive traffic and conversions to your site – are closer to your “action,” trusted by locals, and easier to connect with. And using local influencers to increase visibility for your business is far less competitive than trying to convince the “big boys.”
The value of local influencers to your SEO campaign is also significant. If influencers spread your brand through sharing, natural links, an d even more traditional methods, you will earn reviews, natural links, etc., so that you become more of a trusted expert. And the more authoritative you become, the higher you will rank on local searches.
Developing relationships with local influencers is not the hard part, however. Finding them is. Here are some tips to help you identify and connect with local influencers.
Identifying Local Influencers
There may be obvious names that come to mind. But there may be others you don’t know exist. Begin by making a list of the criteria of a local influencer for your business. Such factors might include:
- Background in your niche
- Large numbers of followers on social media accounts
- Connections with the community/organizations
- Perhaps a blog with current postings and rich content
Once you have a general idea of your criteria, you can begin to look. Here’s where.
Attend Local Business Networking Activities
As a local entrepreneur, chances are you already belong to at least one networking group. Widen your networking activity by attending conferences and events that include other networking groups. When you pick up a name or two, take note so that you can look them up later.
You don’t have to be shy at these events either. Ask other attendees who they might consider an influencer in your niche. People are usually very willing to share.
Ask People How They Got to You
Chances are, if they answer that they were referred, it will probably be by another customer, but put “influencer” in as an option. You just never know. There may be an influencer out there who is already a fan. The term “influencer” may not be widely known, so you may want to come up with something different, such as “another business” and then ask for a name.
Social Network Researching Will Yield Results
Filter your searches by geographic location and by those who would be considered “mid-level” influencers, those with between 500-1500 followers. Those who have huge followings will be more difficult to connect with and may not be interested in you at your stage of business growth.
You probably want to search Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you have a prospect, make sure that s/he is on all three of these platforms and has a good following on them. Be sure to check and see if you have any mutual acquaintances as well – this is always a way to get an introduction. As well, be certain to read a number of their posts – they need to be recent and of good quality.
Consider a Local SEO Firm
If all of this searching for local influencers sounds like a lot of time, you are right. And you may not have that kind of time, depending upon your business demands. James Cameron, a new restaurant owner discovered that he was better off locating a Los Angeles SEO company to assist him. “My restaurant demands 16-hour days right now,” he states, “I need the exposure that influencers can give me, but finding the time right now is just impossible. Using someone else to do the digging and the other SEO work has been a huge benefit.”
Use a Good Search Tool
There are lots of good social media tools that you can use to find niche influencers. A tool such as Moz Followerwonk will let you search by keywords for your niche and location. If, for example, you have a vegan restaurant in St. Louis, you might search “St. Louis vegan and see what pops up on Twitter.
Buzzsumo is another good tool. You can search for web content by keywords and find out where they have been used on the web. Then, you can click “view sharers” and find out who is sharing the content. You will then filter down by retweets until you can find an audience that is retweeting content related to your locale and business. If you buy the upgraded version, however, you will actually have a tab for “influencers,” and this can streamline your search by giving you some good ideas.
Google+ May be an Option
You can use your analytics to see if you notice anyone interesting sharing your content and then do some research on them. You may find someone worthy of a 2nd or 3rd look, depending upon their content and social media connections. You should also narrow your searches for your analytics down to your geographic area up front.
Connecting with the “Found” Influencers – The Next Steps
Once you have found your influencers, the next steps will be to connect with them and create that relationship. This may come slowly, because it will take time to make a good impression and for them to get to know you, so that a mutually beneficial online relationship can be established.
If you want to speed things up a bit, consider hosting a local event and inviting them – meeting face-to-face during such an event can get the ball rolling much faster.