How to Connect to and Ultimately Become an Influencer with Karen Freberg, PhD @kfreberg #vcbuzz

Influencer marketing is not new and we’ve discussed the topic a lot but somehow the idea of one person building influence (from anywhere in the world!) and becoming the voice (that can be heard all over the world) appeals to me.

In fact, I think that ability to be heard is the most powerful achievement of the Internet, I think.

But how to become an influencer? It all starts with building connections and that’s what we are going to discuss today.

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About @kfreberg

Karen Freberg, PhD @kfreberg is an Associate Professor at the University of Louisville and an On-line Instructor for the Integrated Marketing Communications program at West Virginia University.

Along with teaching, Karen is also a research consultant in social media and crisis communication.

Karen Freberg, PhD @kfreberg has coordinated and advised various companies on the areas of social media pedagogy and certification programs, such as @Hootsuite (Advanced Social Media Certification and #HootAmb), @Meltwater (certification program), @Adobe (EDUMax Thought Leader), and @Hubspot (Education program and podcast).

Questions we discussed

Q1 How did you become a digital marketer? Please tell your career story!

Most recently w/ and their new !! The certification covers influencers and influencer marketing!

I started my online journey in 1995 w/ my very first website. I used my website to market myself as a student athlete in HS + college. Now, I’m active blogging, researching/teaching, and consulting online!

Social media has opened many different opportunities for me as a professor. Speaking engagements, guest talks, Twitter chats (like this one!), and client work. It’s been a powerful community!

Now, we are seeing classes in this area! It’s a lot of fun!

This is awesome, Chris! I think it’s great to see the vast amount of opportunities social and digital brings to everyone!

Q2 When just entering digital marketing world, how can one effectively build connections with niche influencers to learn from them and build important partnerships?

Reaching out to professionals is the first step. Research what they’re interested in, and see what you have in common is key. Focus on creating a relationship first and don’t go for the hard sell.

I’d look at what has done to work w/ influencers and how he’s used Twitter to do this. Definitely someone who takes relationships to the next level!

Q3 How to become an influencer? What sort of goals, time frames and ROI should one expect? How can one assess their own influence?

To be influential, you want to make sure to provide value to your community. Be consistent w/ your content and evaluate your metrics on a consistent basis. It may take time, but set goals for where you want to be and work towards them.

We have to be aware of what to do, but also what not to do to be an influencer, like:

  • Not buying followers
  • Not going for the hard sell
  • Not engaging your community
  • Follow and then unfollow technique

It’s easier today to spot fake influencers. Authenticity is key.

Agreed!! Plus, the tools that measure influencers and influence can be measuring it in different ways.

 

Q4 Many businesses shy away from growing in-house influencers because that’s the asset that’s very hard to keep. What’s your view on this? Should a business hire influencer or grow them? Or both? Are there examples of businesses successfully using their own internal influence online?

I’d say both! We have seen the growth of employee advocacy and we need more of this. There has to be a balance between those you mentor and those you form a partnership with.

You want to make sure you do your research on external influencers as well as educate internal ones. Training and collaboration will be key here for a successful IM venture!

Agreed! The new social media certification goes over what brands can do to create an employee advocacy campaign and program!

 

Q5 What are your favorite digital marketing tools?

I’m a big fan of for IM. My other top tools here would be Also, you can learn all about IM in ’s new

Our previous influencer marketing chats:

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