Your prospects and customers are continually on a journey to satisfy their passions and the trigger events which impact their professional and private lives.  In the past, consumers would seek companies to gather the information they needed to make their purchase decisions.  Today, they seek communities and influencers who can provide them the information and guidance they require.

Today, you need a new digital content model

While your customers and prospects are seeking information where you have expertise, there are many areas where your knowledge is weaker. For example, I am an expert in digital marketing strategies but when it comes to AI, IoT,  Machine Learning, Genetic Algorithms and a host of topics important to marketers, I know I don’t have the expertise.  However, I follow and curate content from top experts in all of these fields to keep my clients and prospects at the forefront in these – and many other – areas.

Today, your digital content model should look like this graphic.  In areas where you have expertise, you can create content – blogs, articles, eBooks, videos, podcasts, etc – and then offer them out to your followers and customers. You will talk about them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social networking sites using hashtags to connect with those who can benefit from your expertise.

In the areas where you lack expertise, you need to find experts – called influencers – who have the expertise or connections to experts in your areas of weakness.  By following these influencers on Twitter, in communities, or on LinkedIn, Instagram or other social networks, you will have a rich flow of content from each of them. Curate the content to find the best and most useful content to help your audience.  Once you find great content, comment Tweet it on Twitter, post it on LinkedIn, put it into your website, tell communities of interest about it.  In other words, amplify it by promoting it for the influencer who created it.  Be sure to always give them attribution as your amplification will tell your audience you know the “right” influencers and are happy to let them know when they create great content.

By using curated content, you can maintain a constant flow of great information to help your high value markets and to keep your and your organization positioned as an influencer to them.  Consumers don’t expect companies to know everything but they do seek companies who can help them achieve their personal and professional goals.

So where do you find influencers?

What you need is a four step process that takes only a few minutes to complete.  I use it in all of my digital marketing classes at Northwestern to help students grow their professional networks in topics of interest to the industry where they want to work.  We call it Network Forward and here is how it works:

  • List topic of interest for your high value markets– When people consider your products and services, it is usually part of a larger issue they are trying to address or an ongoing passion they have. When they are moved to action, they are likely looking for a range of topics to help them move forward.  Start by making a list of the topics they want to know.  Identify the ones where you have expertise and those where you are weaker.  You will want to follow influencers in all of these areas but the weak areas is where you will rely on the top influencers for curated content.
  • Use these free tools designed to identify influencers and follow them
    • Followerwonk – Go to the “Search Bios” page, enter a topic and it will give you the top influencers on Twitter.  It will display both companies and individuals who contribute content frequently to the site.  The key word is “frequently” – not necessarily quality.  For each important topic to your target audience, I select 3-5 influencer individuals to follow.  I tend NOT to follow companies as much of their content is self-serving and promotional in nature.  You be the judge there.  Use Followerwonk for every topic you find important and build your influencer base quickly using this tool.
    • Buzzsumo – Buzzsumo is a great site which gives you a lot of important information.  Put in a topic and Buzzsumo not only shows you the top influencers but also recent articles they have published.  It is instant curated content for you to post to your audience [giving the author and the publisher credit…of course].  It also shows you their “social klout” across the major social networking sites and their evergreen score.  The Evergreen Score show if the article is still being shared by others after its publication.  Buzzsumo is a  great way to create curated content streams on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit and other sites.
    • Instagram –  Instagram is a growing social site for business networking.  Click on the search box and enter a topic.  Instagram Search will display individuals and companies along with the number of followers.  I will follow 3 – 5 for each topic area.  A great way to start learning the business potential of Instagram.
  • Read their contributions and, if you like it, amplify its impact by promoting it– Influencers want two things – Fame and Fortune.  However, Fame is having other people promote their works to others.  It grows their follower base which makes them more influential.  They appreciate it when people amplify their works.  Their fortune happens when they grow more influential.  It gives them more credibility and power in their area of expertise.  SO, you should read or watch their content and, if you agree with it an know your audience would appreciate it, do two things. First, retweet or like it on the social site where you found it.  It shows that audience you find their contribution useful.  THEN, take it to another site and let them know about it. Give the author and the publication complete attribution while telling the audience on the other site about what you like about it.  For both activities, include hashtags to connect with people following those terms and @handles to connect with the author and publisher and their markets.
  • Reap the benefits– Each time you do this, you will grow your follower base.You will become an influencer to them and they will begin to rely on your “connected” to the influencers. When you amplify their expert works, everyone wins.  They get “fame and fortune” and you grow in your influencer status.

Some final tips to do this successfully:

  1. Make sure you agree before you amplify – Read the author and make use you agree with their content. Remember, your followers are looking to you for the expertise.  Don’t let the down.
  2. If you find a “bad” influencer, just stop following them – Don’t try to make a statement. It will just end badly for everyone.
  3. Be consistent – Once you start curating content, your audience will expect more. Don’t let them down.
  4. Admit mistakes – Occasionally, your followers will point out you amplified bad content. Don’t fight it.  Admit the mistake and move on.
  5. Have fun – Finding influencers and helping them is a great experience.Many will see your constant amplification and will connect with you online.  It is a great way to network as well as grow your influence in your high value markets.