Patrice Yursik (aka the MediaBistro Twitter Queen) answers my "big question" for the MediaBistro Social Media Marketing Boot Camp.
We all got to ask one Big Question of the advisors, and mine was:
How do you identify the people in your audience? ...how do you 1) identify those people. 2) find out where they hang out online 3) strike up conversations with them. 4) make it easy for them to find you.
1 and 2 - The only thing that's truly worked for me is research. So for example, your hoped-for audience would be very interested in film from a critical and intellectual perspective. Start out by identifying the biggest names in your area of interest. For you, those people would likely be film critics so you might want to begin with following Roger Ebert, Peter Travers, Richard Roeper, the guys from Ain't It Cool News...whoever is a known quantity in your space, follow them. If you aren't sure who from a particular website or publication is online, just Google their name, and Twitter to see if they have an account, or a Facebook fan page you can join. RE: Google and Twitter, I find this is more effective than using the actual Twitter search bar. Once you've found your key players, see who they're talking to, and maybe follow them or "like" their fan page. They're most likely having those helpful conversations right now and you might be able to introduce yourself and join in.
3 - In terms of striking up conversation, think of it like you're at a really crowded party and the person you want to communicate with is most likely surrounded by an active group of people already trying to talk to them. (Roger Ebert's Twitter comes most immediately to mind). How do you stand out from the crowd? By either a. saying something interesting, or b. asking that person a question worth answering. Don't be turned off or unfollow them if they don't reply the first time or even the first few times...if you're consistently engaging and interesting, you'll most likely get a response at some point.
4 - to establish yourself as someone who's discussing relevant topics or is a go-to source for **insert topic here** you should make wise use of the Twitter search bar and see what hashtags people are using to discuss what you're interested in discussing. In my particular area of interest, #naturalhair is a popular hashtag - you can also search the hashtag to find people who are worth following and communicating with. It is also worth it to sign up for WeFollow, or any of these: