How to Find and Connect with Local Influencers in Your Industry

Posted by alehbarysevich

If you are the marketing manager of a local business, then you know that building a strong online presence in your local community is the key to success in terms of attracting new customers, increasing word of mouth referrals, and maintaining customer loyalty. Therefore, it’s important that you focus on building a presence that reaches your customers wherever they are online.

In this post, I’ll show you some ways to do just that.

Complete your local listings

The most important local influencers you can make a good impression on right off the bat are the ones that will hopefully leave a good review about your business on the top local review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, depending on your industry.

To ensure that your business has a consistent presence on these networks, start with Moz Local. You can enter your business to get a quick glance at your current local footprint, including what listings you have completed, what duplicate listings you have that may be confusing your customers and local influencers, and a snapshot of your current reviews.

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Moz Local can then help you correct your information (if necessary) with the five main aggregators of data that control the hundreds of local review sites out there; it can also help you monitor your latest reviews all in one place so you are not hopping around from one site to the next.

Find top influencers on local review sites

If that’s not what you’re in the market for, but you’re still interested in making a good impression on local influencers on a local review site, then determine which one makes the biggest dent in your industry. For most local businesses, it’s likely to be Yelp, a local review site that has 164 million visits per month, ranks as the 57th most popular iTunes store app in the US, and has at least 10 million installs on Android devices according to SimilarWeb.

In other words, it’s the most popular local review site.

Your job is to find out who the most influential reviewers are in your area and somehow get them to your business. So how do you find this information out? Yelp gives their best users an Elite rating. You can search for Elite members of Yelp on Google using the following query:

site:yelp.com/user_details “elite 2016” “los angeles”

 

Replace “los angeles” with your city name, and you’re on your way to the profiles of the top reviewers on Yelp. But how do you connect with these people?

Add this to your search:

site:yelp.com/user_details “elite 2016” “los angeles” “my blog or website”

 

Now you’ll find Yelp users who list their blogs or other social profiles so you can hopefully connect with them. Or, if you want Twitter people, specifically search for this:

site:yelp.com/user_details “elite 2016” “los angeles” twitter.com

Ideally, you’ll want someone who likes to give good reviews, likes to review your type of business, and has some way for you to be able to connect with them.

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The two great things about Elite Yelp users?

One, there’s a high likelihood that if you can convince them to try out your local business’s products or services, they’ll review you, because that’s what they do. They review local businesses on Yelp.

Two, there’s a high likelihood that since Yelp recognizes them as Elite, their review of your business will not be hidden by Yelp’s recommendation filter.

Can you find influencers on other local review sites? Sure.

For example, you could search for site:tripadvisor.com/members/ “level 6” to find users who have the highest number of points based on activity, but some users have earned a lot more points for forum activity than they have for writing reviews. In general, Yelp is still probably your best bet since it usually ranks highest in search results.

Get social in a local way

First, let’s go through the standard checklist. You should have, at the bare minimum, a Facebook page for each of your physical locations so people can check into and review them separately.

This also gives you the chance to be featured in the new Facebook Professional Services directory for desktop users or the Nearby Places feature for mobile app users.

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It ensures that everyone who comes across your Facebook page will know whether their friends have been there or not, which is the ultimate in automated word of mouth marketing.

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Of course, that’s just the basic checklist. Now is the part where you start to actually connect with local influencers through social. For this, you need to get personal. When we say personal, we mean you need to use your personal profile.

Start by linking your personal profile up with your local business by making sure that on your About tab, in the Work and Education section, you have linked up your local business’s Facebook page as your current Company.

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Next, find as many local Facebook groups as possible where your customers might be chit-chatting. You might find some highly relevant ones, like this example:

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But more than likely, you’ll be digging through lists like this, looking for ones where people are having random discussions:

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What you’re looking for are groups of people in your area who are asking others about businesses they recommend, or where they can go to get a particular product or service. In the beginning, you’ll have to jump in and recommend yourself. But hopefully, after a while of being an engaged and helpful member of the group, other people will start to recommend your business for you.

If you’re a B2B business, you can do something similar on LinkedIn. Using your LinkedIn professional profile, look for local LinkedIn groups, like this:

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And go from there.

The idea is that, ultimately, you’ll be connecting with people that are highly active on social media. And hopefully, by interacting with them in groups, you’ll build a strong enough relationship with them that when those people are having conversations with their network outside of the group, they’ll recommend you and your business then as well.

Connect with local influencers via Twitter

Want to find bloggers who might write a review of your restaurant or simply tweet about you? Try Followerwonk. This tool will let you search for Twitter users based on keywords in their bio in specific locations and sort the results based on their number of followers and social authority.

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Twitter is perfect for making connections with influencers because you can just start chatting with them. They don’t have to follow you first. You simply use “@[theirusername]” and start chatting away.

The key to good outreach, in this case, is to be subtle. You don’t want your first tweet to be “Hey, come have a free dinner on us and write a review” at just any random Twitter user that comes up in the search results.

Instead, read through their latest tweets. You might find that some only share recipes. Some only talk about vegan food (sorry local BBQ chain). But maybe you’ll find that one food blogger who asks her audience if they know of a great new sushi place. If you are a sushi place, tweet back. That’s how you make the magic happen!

Speaking of people asking about a particular business, you might be able to drum up some customers just by saving a search near you of people asking about your business, products, or services.

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Read and comment on the top local blogs

If you really want to cozy up to the top local influencers in your area, start reading and commenting on the top local blogger’s blogs, regardless of whether they are talking about you or not. You can find them linked to the Twitter profiles you found in the above Followerwonk search.

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Here’s what you should be looking for when determining whether a blog fits as a good local influencer blog:

    • Has the blog been updated lately and does it get updated often?
    • Is the blogger covering local topics? It doesn’t have to be every single post, but it does need to happen on occasion if your goal is to ultimately get a mention by them.
    • Does the blogger write about your type of business? Again, it doesn’t have to be every single post, but it does need to happen on occasion if your goal is to ultimately get a mention by them.
    • Does the website get a decent amount of traffic? You can usually tell based on the number of comments (if enabled) and the number of social shares, or by using sites like SimilarWeb, although the latter will only tell you if the site is getting well over monthly 10,000 visitors.
 

Notice we didn’t say anything about domain authority, Google Pagerank, number of inbound links, etc. You know why? Because you’re looking for local influencers. People who have influence over your local community. People who can drive customers to your business.

Those people are naturally going to have good websites. Thus, if they do grace you with a link, it’s going to be a good one. You don’t need to tally up the metrics.

Of course, you do want to do a quick background check, just to make sure you’re not going to get yourself in trouble by getting a link from a particular blog. This is because A, you never know what someone has been up to and B, you don’t want to be cleaning up a bad link profile to recover from a penalty down the road.

You can always do a quick checkup free of charge with SEO Spyglass. Use it to check out the local blogger’s backlink profile. Just in case. With local blogs, you may not find that the blogger has any outstanding links from CNN or anything of great authority. Your goal is to ensure their links are relevant and not from any sites that are too sleazy.

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Once you’ve verified everything is on the up and up, subscribe to local influencers’ blogs via Feedly or another RSS reader to keep things in one place. Then start checking up for new posts and commenting on them as they appear. Read the posts, leave great comments, and, hopefully, you’ll get the influencer’s attention. Then their business. And, ultimately, their review.

Find the top related businesses in your industry

Local influencers are not only your customers or bloggers. They are also other business owners. Depending on the industry you are in, you may find that the best influencers in your industry are other business owners who can refer your business to their customers.

For example, most wedding vendors will find that wedding planners are strong local influencers in their industry. If you are a favorite minister, caterer, venue, photographer, videographer, florist, etc. on a wedding planner’s radar, then you’ll likely get a lot of referral business.

If you can find those types of complementary, but not competitive, businesses in your industry, start networking with them to see if you can get on their most recommended list. Facebook and LinkedIn groups for professionals in your industry, along with Meetup groups and your local Chamber of Commerce, are great places to find opportunities to network with these types of local influencers.

Monitor local mentions of your business

Once you start connecting with local influencers, you will want to know if they start talking about your business. Even if you’re not connecting with local influencers, you’ll want to know if anyone, in general, is talking about your business. Hence, you’ll want to start monitoring local mentions.

One tool that can help you do this with a unique local business angle is Awario. (This is a paid tool, but it does offer a free trial.)

Here’s why it’s unique for the local business angle. First, you start with the usual keyword search of your business name:

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Next, you can separate your mentions by specific locations using a specific URL. This is nice for franchises that have independent owners who are therefore only interested in mentions of their own locations.

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What makes this better than the iffy reliability of Google Alerts and other social media monitoring tools? You can get web and social media mentions all in one.

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Once your alert is configured, you will then connect your social media accounts for the above-mentioned networks. Awario will immediately start bringing in mentions for your local business that you can look at in detail or filter by type (by web or specific social network).

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Ideally, you will want to monitor your business mentions in order to do the following:

    • Thank local influencers who mention, review, or link to your business
    • Respond to any negative mentions of your business if they arise
    • Contact website owners or article authors who may have mentioned your business, but did not link your business name to your website so that you can build links and boost your website’s authority
    • Keep an eye out for any new local review site listings that crop up for your business so you can claim them
 

In conclusion

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to connect with local influencers in your area to ensure that your local business gets reviews, social mentions, and web links to further increase your visibility to your target customer base. Be sure to find the best ways for your business to uniquely tap into local influencers’ networks, monitor your mentions, and start building a strong online presence in your community today!

 

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