One of the great things about social media is it makes it easier to gauge consumer sentiment and find opportunities.
It takes some work, but you can determine who among your Twitter and Facebook followers are most likely to influence opinion about your company and products – and then you can target them with free offers, special insider status and other forms of flattery (hey, everyone wants to feel special).
The good news is there are some free tools that can help. Booshaka and SimplyMeasured can help you assess your Facebook and Twitter audience, respectively. Once you’ve identified a short list of potential influencers, follow them across social networks like LinkedIn, Google+ and Foursquare to get a sense of their interests and where they live or work, according to Mike Merrill, director of marketing at ReachLocal.
Try to engage them by, for example, retweeting or commenting on something they say. Eventually you want to contact them by private message or email to invite them to an exclusive event or or to extend a free offer. You’re hoping that they eventually become loyal customers and tell others, but even if they don’t, make sure your dealings are positive to leave them with a good impression anyway.
Adapted from How to Identify and Engage Local Influencers at Small Business Computing.