In the perpetual search for increased website traffic, one source marketers love to tap into is social media, influencers in particular. When someone with a large audience – on Twitter, for example – broadcasts a message out there into the world, their followers listen. Thus, getting an influencer to tweet out a link to your website has much intrinsic value.

What’s in It for Jerry?

The thing is that it’s tough to truly reach celebrities and industry influencers. Sure, anyone can type in @JerrySeinfeld in front of a tweet and ask him for an RT; that accessibility is part of the beauty of Twitter. Almost 100% of the time, however, that will simply not work. There are many obvious reasons why, but one stands out among the rest: what’s in it for Jerry?

Indeed, too many marketers fall into the trap of drinking their own Kool-Aid, as it were, believing “hey, we’re awesome; why wouldn’t a big celebrity or influencer spread the word about us?” Too often, we fail to realize that not everyone in the world – especially celebrities and influencers – cares about our products and websites as much as we do; or at all, for that matter.

Strike Up a Friendship

The trick, then, is to get influencers to care in the first place. Rather than immediately go for the hard sell, asking an influencer to “do for you,” the more optimal strategy is to slowly but surely build a relationship with the said influencer. Get them to care about you, your site, and/or your product by focusing your general outreach on why you/your site/your product are great – and why that ought to matter to the influencers.

Think about it from Jerry’s perspective; he must get approached all the time by people and companies begging for his endorsement. In all likelihood, he wouldn’t give the time of day to someone pushing any “random” product out there. However, if he used the product in the first place – or at least had some passing familiarity with it – then perhaps he’d at least dedicate some time to investigating whether the product was worth his time upon being pitched to.

Moreover, if you think about what drives your impulses to try things, often it’s a recommendation from a trusted source, like a friend. Even the great Jerry Seinfeld is 1,000x more likely to try a new bar of soap if it was recommended to him by a friend rather than some Marketing Director from a multinational soap company.

Build Relationships Organically

If you, your website, and your product truly are worth paying attention to, then building an audience of followers will happen organically. That is to say, the more that people begin hearing about it, the larger your fan base will grow. One must engage with this fan base, develop real relationships and corral as many social influencers into it as possible. The key to unlocking influencer success, then, is by becoming friendly with them. You want to be that person who has Jerry’s ear when he starts making jokes about the poor quality of his existing bar of soap.

Of course, the way to become anyone’s friend is not to start pitching and selling to them the first time you meet them. Rather, you’d naturally take an interest in their lives and what they do. You’d strike up casual conversations with them. You’d engage with them in the same way you would with any friend you’ve ever had in life.

In It for the Long Run

Getting social media influencers on the side of your brand is not a short-term strategy, nor is there a way to cut corners so as to gather influencers at a lightning-quick pace. It’s something that you and your colleagues need to be fully invested in for the long haul. Some of the greatest advocates for your brand will be those who value what it brings to the table.

If you can successfully employ this strategy, then when the time comes for you to broadcast your message to the masses and attract visitors to your website, you won’t even need to turn to your influencers directly for help… because they’ll already care and be more than happy to help you spread your message… as your friends.