Social media influencers give you instant credibility, exposure and relatability.

In an age of social media, camera phones and TMZ, stars like Beyoncé, Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Bieber are part of our lives. And even if you’re not a fan of their music, talk shows, or hair (looking at you, Biebs), you can’t deny their popularity.

And from a publicity point of view, their power is indisputable. Simply look at all the best sellers Oprah made nearly single-handedly by including them in her book club. And it happens all the time.

What social media influencers can do for you.

Right now you’re probably thinking, “that’s great, but I’m an ink and toner/landscaping/insurance company. What does this have to do with me?”

Actually a lot.

You may not be able to get Kim Kardashian or David Beckham tweeting about your brand, but there are still lots of powerful social media influencers in your industry. Here’s how you can find, develop and use them to give your brand instant credibility, exposure and relatability.

Step 1: Define what you’re looking for in social media influencers.

Consider the following factors:

  • Relevance to your audience and industry
  • Reach (number of followers, retweets, etc.)
  • Engagement (how their audience interacts with them)

Step 2: Find the right social media influencers for you.

Once you know what you’re looking for in social media influencers, go out and find them. Tools like Klout, Littlebird and TweetReports are a great way to determine a person’s social media influence. Look for individuals who have high search engine rankings for their personal pages. Be sure to dive deeply into their social media profiles to ensure they are people you want to engage with.

Step 3: Engage with social media influencers.

You know what you want and you’ve found the right people. Now it’s time to reel them in. Reach out and start a conversation. Give them value up front in the form of free products to review, an inside scoop on the industry, or a reason to promote your brand. Once you’ve established a good rapport, nurture the relationship into one that is mutually beneficial. Ask your influencer to write guest posts on your blog or speak at your events. This will lead to more mentions and more reach with the influencer’s followers.

Step 4: Keep it up.

Now that the hard part of finding and engaging social media influencers is over, you can kick back and relax, right? WRONG. It’s incredibly important to maintain your relationship. Make sure your influencers know that you value them, and keep providing them with a reason to love your brand. Even a weekly “I appreciate you” tweet can go a long way.

Follow these steps, and you can develop your own social media influencers to give your brand instant relatability and credibility in your industry. And while you may not have Justin Timberlake or Lebron James tweeting out how much they love your company, a well-placed tweet, Facebook share or Instagram post from the right person in your industry can reap big rewards.