The logic behind this is simple – whereas once we relied on reviews and company-generated information on products to make purchasing decisions, in the social media era we have more access than ever before to people we know and trust, and more capability to follow the opinions of people we like.
This means that now we can seek out more perspectives on a product – if, for example, you were thinking of buying a new car, you can ask your friends on Facebook and get a crowd-sourced opinion on your best options. The same principle works in reverse – if someone you know, like and trust says that the latest Ford is great, that’s going to have an impact.
Influence of this type has always existed, but social media communication, through which we’re constantly connected, makes it more accessible, and thus, more influential than ever before.
So why does this matter to your business? Because what people say about you on social matters, what the experts and leaders in your industry say is important. You might not be running a Fortune 500 company with celebrity endorsers (25 per cent of the Kardashian wealth is reportedly from social media posts), but there are people within the communities that you want to reach who are influential, and who can help amplify your messages.
Here are some tips on to find them, and to work with them to boost your business.
1. Listening in
One of the key benefits of social media is the ability to ‘listen’, to monitor social platforms for keyword mentions and discussions related to your business.
For example, let’s say you run ‘Bob’s Flowers’, you can set up keyword mentions for ‘Bob’s Flowers’ to ensure you’re alerted to any mention of your brand, which you can then respond to as you see fit.
But more than that, you can also monitor every mention of ‘florist’ within your region, every mention of ‘flowers’ and you can track who the key people are who are interacting with discussions around topics relevant to your business.
In this case, you might be able to work out that there are certain people on Instagram in your area who regularly share posts using the hashtag #flowers and who generate a lot of engagement and reach – reaching out to them with a free offer or proposal could be a way to get your business on the radar of more prospective customers.
A key element of any influencer marketing strategy is engagement, working to respond and reply to those who can help boost your brand.
Again using ‘Bob’s Flowers’ as an example, by simply engaging with relevant people who are discussing your focus topic, you can help raise brand awareness among groups relevant to your brand.
If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to them and asking them to collaborate, or you don’t have a great free offer to make you could like and comment on their posts, making them aware of your presence. If you’re sharing content similar to what they like, that could lead to them sharing some of your content with their audience, again helping to boost awareness.
You should also make a note to engage with those who do share and respond to your content to build community around your brand. Anyone could be a potential influencer, and it’s worth working to boost your appeal to them, while also enhancing your brand relationships.
3. Maximise opportunities
Once you’ve made a connection with a relevant influencer (or influencers), you need to also consider how you can strengthen that bond and turn them into active advocates for your business.
A great way to do this can be by offering them exclusive insight into new products, or in seeking their advice on new ideas. In doing this, you’re letting these influencers into your inner circle, which can help better align them to your company going forward.
For ‘Bob’s Flowers’, they could seek out opinions on new design ideas or thoughts on the trends of the season. If they can incorporate an influencer’s idea into an upcoming project, that’ll definitely increase the chances of that person becoming a more active advocate.
There’s a range of ways you can use influencers, and as noted, it’s more effective than ever in the age of social media. By listening in and seeking them out, you’ll be on your way to amplifying your key messages – and most importantly, you’ll be doing among the people most likely to become customers in future.