How Strong Influencer Relationships Can Grow Your Audience

By Sue Campbell

Obviously, you don’t have limitless time, energy or appetite to build your author platform and grow your audience.

That means you need to think strategically about how to invest the time you do have.

One of the biggest time and energy mistakes authors make with marketing is with their approach to social media.

Let me ask this clarifying question:

Is it better to have your own Twitter following of 10,000 people or have good relationships with 10 influencers who each have 10,000 followers?

When you put the question so succinctly, the answer is pretty obvious. You could bust your butt to build a following of 10,000 people, or you could cultivate 10 one-on-one relationships and reach 100,000 people.

Yet so many authors spend endless hours trying to figure out how to grow their personal social following — only to find that, ultimately, social media doesn’t sell books very well at all. (Check out this blog post from my mentor, Tim Grahl, for details.)

What you can do with social media is build relationships with relevant influencers. Influencers are people who already have a way to get in front of large number of eyeballs and eardrums, either through social, a subscriber list, a podcast or some other venue.

Finding the right influencers

Here’s the basic approach to finding the right influencers…

  1. Know your target reader. Which social media channels do they use? What blogs do they read? What books do they read? What podcasts do they listen to?

  2. Know your hashtags. One you know the blogs, books and podcasts your potential readers enjoy, you can start sifting through social media and finding the influencers responsible for that content. Then look at the hashtags they commonly use and the themes and topics they usually talk about. Now you can use those hashtags to find even more influencers.

  3. Start plugging your influencers into a spreadsheet. Create a document where you can track all the influencer research you’re doing. Include links to the influencer’s various channels and websites as well as notes about what this person does and possible cross-promotional opportunities.

  4. Start meaningful interactions. Use your gut and only move forward with influencers you’d genuinely like to get to know. This will keep your sanity and your integrity intact. Now, don’t be shy. Start tweeting and interacting with influencers with the goal of being helpful to them and getting on their radar.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: The number one thing to keep in mind when creating influencer relationships is that it should be mutually beneficial. This isn’t about shameless self promotion. This is about building relationships. Be willing to give more than you get. Help spread their content before you ever ask a single favor of them.

  5. Eventually, make an ask. Now that you’ve established a relationship with an influencer, design an appropriate ask that can be a win for both of you. Offer to write a guest post. Invite them on your podcast, or offer to be on theirs to discuss something of great interest to their audience. And make sure you have a way to funnel their audience over to your email list!

  6. Show gratitude. Once you’ve done some cross promotion with an influencer, make sure you share it in a way that shows your gratitude and helps them. Sharing things on social is a great way to do this. Introducing them to someone who may be helpful to them is another. Think about ways to make the connection stronger and then act on those ideas.

Reaching out to influencers can be one of the scariest parts of building your author platform, but it’s also the one with the largest return, both in terms of book sales and professional growth. There’s nothing like getting close to some of the bigger players in your space to help you level up as an author.

Have questions about how to build your author platform? Get a free 30-minute consultation and we’ll get you some answers.

Sue Campbell