By Susan Saldibar

It’s amazing how easy it is to reach people all over the world through digital marketing. If you’re located in Los Angeles you can reach prospects in Taiwan just as easily as down the freeway in San Diego. And you can reach them all with virtually the same amount of effort expended. This is all great. But, with so much emphasis on using digital marketing to reach the world around us, are we forgetting something even more important? What about leveraging the power of local “influencers”?

Few would argue the value of engaging local influencers. But how do you find these folks? How do you know what they’re saying about your community? Or, are they saying anything at all?

I have some answers for you, courtesy of a new State of Digital Marketing report, released by G5 (a Senior Living Foresight partner). There’s plenty of good data and insights in the report, including a section on local influencer marketing. It lists ways to tap into their networks and keep on top of all the local “buzz” out there about your community. Of course, that’s just the beginning. The goal is to cultivate relationships with these influencers and build trust in your brand which, in turn, may lead to establishing new referral networks.

Here are some things that G5 recommends you do to get the wheels turning on leveraging your own local influencer market (with my “low tech” ideas included on a few): 

    • Locate them: A great way to find out if/what they are saying about your community is to track “mentions” of your community using online tools such as “Mention”, “IFTTT”, “Hootsuite” or even “Google Alerts”.
    • Connect with them: Hashtags and tagging allow you to get your community “seen” in various pertinent groups that represent activities, events, businesses, and other common areas of interest. Just as an example, if your community is in Pasadena, California, you could tag your tweets with @PasadenaGov as well as the hashtag, #Pasadena. If there are events going on, tag those as well.
    • Network at local events: Take advantage of Google and other social platforms that host networking events. I might add a low-tech idea here: make sure you’re paying regular visits to your local senior centers, places of worship, and other places where older adults get together. Shake hands. Put ads in their bulletins. The power of “feet on the street” can’t be overestimated.
    • Collaborate: As you develop new partnerships in your community, the key is to keep reaching out to them and collaborate. When you do this online, it can extend your reach into their broader audience network. Another low-tech idea here. This could be a great way to initiate things like having them visit your community and even share their thoughts and ideas for events and activities. Then, if you take them up on it, they will (hopefully) share it with their followers. This will help increase your circle of influence within the community. And it will keep your brand in front of your partners. That can lead to referrals. 

The G5 report also shares some cool tools and apps you can use to maximize these referral relationships and to make sure you are communicating in the most effective way. 

Bottom line here is that your local influencers can be your most powerful influencers. It stands to reason that the more effort you put into reaching them and collaborating with them, the more local support you will gain. And, when local business people, spiritual leaders, educators, and other community leaders get to know and trust your brand, you’ll begin to develop a strong local referral network. And I can’t think of much that’s better than that!

You can download the G5 State of Digital Marketing report here. For more information about G5, please visit their website.