Social media is (and always has been) about relationships.
The stronger your relationships are, the stronger your community is.
The stronger your community is, the greater your influence.
The greater your sphere of influence, the bigger your impact.
Get where I’m going here?
The ability to engage and influence targeted audiences (current / prospective customers, employees, potential recruits, etc) is a strategic advantage your business can’t afford to ignore. Influencer marketing not a new concept – celebrity endorsements have been around as long as advertising has (think Mad Men).
Since the introduction of social media, however, the channels we use to influence buyers has shifted pretty dramatically. The floodgates have opened, so to speak: the volume of information, content, and channels for distribution has grown to staggering proportions. The types of influencers has evolved from celebrities to popular bloggers, authors, speakers, YouTube channel owners, etc. The dynamic is shifting, and people are relying more heavily on the opinions and perspectives of people they trust – via the internet – to inform purchase decisions. Not convinced? Here are a few stats that will drive it home:
- Brand advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a good source of information by people around them
- Offers shared by trusted advocates convert at 4-10x higher rate than offers sent by brands
- A word-of-mouth recommendation is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions
*Statistics provided by Branderati http://branderati.com/the-age-of-advocacy-and-influence-26-stats-marketers-should-know/
The upshot is that there are more opportunities than ever before for brands to engage relevant influencer communities, however, it’s more challenging than ever to make a real impact. Brands are constantly struggling to get their messages in front the right audiences, and customers are getting better and better at tuning out one-way advertising.
What does this all mean for social businesses? It’s time to go back to the basics. Refocus the lens of your social media efforts on strategically building relationships with the right people to increase effectiveness and drive value. Social influencers have a community of established relationships based on trusted, credibility and authority. Their loyalty is earned – not bought. When leveraged correctly, these influencers can become powerful evangelists for your brand, not only giving their personal endorsement but also influencing the perceptions and opinions of the people in their community.
“One area that is important for brands to realize is that there needs to be a benefit to the influencer. While exposure is great, many influencers do not benefit from sheer exposure alone. The simple effort of a personalized gift can mean a lot. It shows that the brand made an effort to customize something for them. Anything like that, where it shows that the brand cares, turns it into a mutually beneficial relationship.” – Justin Levy, Director of Social Marketing, Citrix
For most successful brands, cultivating relationships with these influencers is no accident. To take a social media program to the next level, brands will have to take a much more prescriptive approach to discovering, nurturing and catalyzing these influencers to act on behalf of your brand.
The next step is to develop a game plan, and we can help with that. Visit our influencer page to learn more!