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The 4-1-1 Strategy For Cultivating A Social Media Influencer

October 20, 2016

4-1-1 social media sharing strategy graphic representationblank vertical space, 32 pixels highA social media influencer is someone with a very high profile on social media. A person with serious clout and a large and loyal following.

Why would you want to cultivate a relationship with an influencer?blank vertical space, 16 pixels highBlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.2pixelsBlankVertSpace.6pixelsBecause other people listen to them. They act on their recommendations.

Think of Oprah Winfrey. If Oprah mentions your book, you’ve got a bestseller. Millions of people trust Oprah. They’ll buy the book on her recommendation.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

A social media influencer can send traffic to your site, give you exposure, help sell your product or service.

How do you find the right influencer?BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

You think about your target audience— the customers you’re trying to reach. Who do they follow? Who do they listen to?

Those are the influencers you’re after. You find them by doing online research using search engines and other tools.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Alex York gives this example: Say you’re looking for an influencer on grilling and barbecuing. You’d search for: food critics; those with popular outdoor grilling Instagram accounts; grilling bloggers; barbecue pit builders; ribs contest judges. People who work in that particular niche, people with a loyal following.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

After identifying an appropriate influencer, do you immediately ask their help in publicizing your brand? No. That would be the equivalent of a hard sell, and you’d be written off as an opportunist– and rightly so.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Instead, you start cultivating a relationship with them by interacting with their content. If they have a blog, leave comments on their posts. Ask questions.

Do them a favor and share their posts by linking to them in your own posts; by tweeting them, posting them to LinkedIn, etc. It’s sure to be noticed and appreciated.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

At this point, you need to think about your overall social sharing strategy. You’re trying to do two things: 1) cultivate an influencer by sharing their posts, and 2) demonstrate your expertise and attract followers by sharing your own posts.

What kind of balance should you strive for?BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, recommends a 4-1-1 social sharing strategy: for every 6 pieces of content you share via Twitter, etc, share:BlankVertSpace.8pixels

  • 4 pieces of content from your targeted influencer that are relevant to your audience
  • 1 piece of your own content that helps your audience and demonstrates your expertise
  • 1 piece of sales-related content for your product or service; e.g., a coupon, press release, limited-time offer, etc.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute notes that the numbers don’t
have to be exact
. It’s the idea: most of the time you’re sharing content that isn’t yours. You’re drawing attention to the influencer you’re trying to cultivate. You’re sharing that person’s thought leadership, and asking nothing in return. You’re making an investment: you’re hoping that someday when you need a favor (a plug for your own content, product, service), the influencer will say: sure, I’d be glad to help you out.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

I was intrigued by the 4-1-1 strategy, and decided to create a corresponding infographic: blank vertical space, 32 pixels highinfographic showing 4-1-1 social media sharing strategy for attracting attention of influencer by sharing his content and posts

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI used the word “sell” to make that cute little rhyme in the musical notes, but then I qualified it by calling it a “low-key pitch.” Why?

Because selling is problematic. The aforementioned Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing this way:BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

There’s a conflict there. Your goal, of course, is to make a sale. You want people to buy your product or service. But you’re trying to market yourself as a expert and go-to person without looking like a cheesy salesman telling people to “Buy now! Call today!”

Any sales pitch, no matter how low-key, runs the risk of appearing too “salesy,” too aggressive.

Is there an alternative?

There is.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Instead of posting stand-alone pitches or promotions, you can end all your posts with a call to action (CTA).

A call to action asks your reader to do something. In the words of Julie Neidlinger: “to do something tangible instead of merely feeling warm fuzzies about your brand.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Some CTA’s don’t require the reader to buy anything; others do. Examples of no-buy CTA’s: follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my newsletter (which requires the reader to give you his email address), download a free guide, etc. Calls for a purchase might include: buy my eBook, sign up for my course, visit my online store, etc.

Why is a CTA (even one asking you to buy something) better than tweeting or posting a stand-alone pitch?BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Because it’s coming at the end of a post in which you were helpful and shared valuable information. The psychology is right: you just gave your readers something, and they’re going to be open to doing something for you in return. If your CTA complements the content you just shared, it’s going to seem very natural and unobtrusive.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

I much prefer CTA’s to separate sales pitches. That’s just my opinion, my personal feeling. Using CTA’s allows you skip posting pitches, and stick to content. That means you can use one of my alternate 4-1-1 strategies (below) to cultivate an influencer.

In the first, you mix in a post from a second expert or influencer. In the second, you’re retaining 2 of 6 shares for your own content, and mixing it up a little: sometimes sharing educational content, sometimes sharing something funny or entertaining that’s appropriate for your audience.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

infographic showing 4-1-1 social media sharing strategy variations for attracting attention of influencer by sharing his content and postsblank vertical space, 32 pixels highAnd again, the numbers (ratios) don’t have to be exact. You could even cultivate two or more influencers at once, sharing their content on different days.

Reminder: you want to be engaging your target influencer (visiting their blog, leaving comments) at the same time you’re sharing their content on social media.

Here’s the entire 4-1-1 social sharing strategy idea, including variations, in a single infographic:blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
infographic showing 4-1-1 social media sharing strategy for attracting attention of influencer by sharing his content and posts

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high    *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Have you ever tried connecting with an influencer? Any thoughts about it? Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to recommend it, please click the Like button below. To share it, click Tweet, Facebook, or one of the other Share buttons.

You might also enjoy my infographic about content marketing. It explains what it is, how it evolved, and what characterizes good content.

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. I create images that get content seen and shared.

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 40 pixels high

11 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2016 2:06 PM

    Another home run, my friend…you can neither write no wrong, nor draw any wrong conclusions. This was so interesting, informative, and delivered in your uniquely entertaining (and endearing) way that always draws me in. And, no, I’ve never tried connecting with an influencer; but, you’ve given me food for thought….perhaps I will act on it in future 🙂 Thanks for sharing… 🙂


    • October 21, 2016 9:29 AM

      My dear Truly! I read your lovely comment and had the most foolish impulse to run out of the dugout and tip my cap! Of course I’d have to remember to hit the button on my trusty applause machine before I rushed onto the field… : )

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I learned a lot researching it. I’ve cultivated a few influencers in a vague, half-hearted sort of way, but I’ve never made a systematic effort along those lines. The idea makes a great deal of sense. The key, of course, would be having something truly worthwhile (product, service, blog post, content of some kind) that an influencer felt they could honestly endorse with enthusiasm. Hmm… was that one key or two keys?? : )

      Many thanks for your very kind comment and truly wonderful support!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. October 20, 2016 2:10 PM

    That was some intensive reading. Interesting stuff, Mark. 😃


    • October 21, 2016 9:36 AM

      Intensive… oh dear! That sounds heavy, and conjures up a vision of you being carted off to Intensive Care… : )

      Just kidding. Yeah, kind of a long read, and a little embarrassing in that respect, since just recently I was telling someone that I thought it wise to keep posts short… : (

      Ah, well– certainly not the first time I’ve contradicted myself. Glad you enjoyed it, Asha, and many thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. RKLikesReeses permalink
    October 20, 2016 3:18 PM

    Wonderful! Such good ideas, brilliantly presented. ::applauds wildly::

    “Cheesy” – Haaa! – Absolutely! Unless we’re promoting hand-hammered fondue pots or artisanal pizza, cheesy’s definitely a good characteristic to avoid!


    • October 21, 2016 9:53 AM

      If there’s one thing I know about, it’s cheesy. Take this tie I’m wearing… this shirt… this little cap with the propellor… 🍕🍕🍕😊

      Ha! Thanks, RK! I thought of you (and many other good friends) while I was writing the post. Finding the right influencer who could champion one’s work (even in a modest way) could be invaluable. So often it’s a matter of exposure– getting one’s work (art, writing, music, product, service) seen by the right people. Influencers– with their large and loyal followings– are in a position to do that. I don’t see it as manipulation. You’re trying to make a connection where there’s some mutual good feeling, and the influencer genuinely likes your work and is willing to give it a plug. Not the sort of relationship that happens overnight, but definitely worth pursuing.

      And now I must change my socks– they’re just not cheesy enough. Always great to see you, thanks for your wunnaful comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. October 28, 2016 8:07 AM

    If I’ve connected with an influencer via my blogger, I didn’t think about it. That’s how disorganized I am …compared to you. Oh wait, maybe you’re the influencer. After all, at least 2 times you were highlighted by


    • October 30, 2016 8:37 AM

      Ha! Hi, Jean! You’ve got me laughing here. If you’re disorganized compared to me, you’ve got serious self-managerial issues!! As I was eating supper last night, I decided it was probably time to clean up the accumulated clutter on the table– it was taking up more space than I was!! : (

      Speaking of influence: we had some snow here this past week (since washed away, thankfully), but even so, I rode my bike a whole mile to our little post office. “Jean would be proud of me,” I told our thoroughly befuddled postmaster. See? You’re a good influence. I know I’m overdue at your blog (among many others), but I have resolved to visit soon!!

      Always a pleasure, many thanks for checking in!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 30, 2016 5:06 PM

        Even baby rides feel good in less desirable weather. I’ve referenced your blog in a link but post won’t be published until later next yr. I gotta report on our European trip stuff..


        • October 30, 2016 7:58 PM

          Whoa! Something to look forward to! I’m honored, Jean. Baby Rider says: “Goo, goo, goo, thank-yoo-hoo!!” : )

          Liked by 1 person

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