I briefly introduce the social influencers and how they affect purchasing decisions. In this chapter, I discuss social influencers in greater detail and explain why they matter, how you can reach them, and what best practices to deploy in the process of doing so.
I focus on the social influencers who reside within the social graphs of your customers and how you can account for them in all your marketing efforts. Some of the concepts in this chapter rightly seem to draw inspiration from influencer marketing, with its roots in the public relations world, whereas other concepts will feel very different.
How influencers are defined is a controversial subject among marketers. Some marketers focus on what they consider to be key influencers, whereas others place more emphasis on everyday influencers.
Earlier, I introduce the three types of social influencers, which I believe account for all the types of influence taking place around a customer. Here’s a quick recap of them
The first is that your public relations department is probably concerned with these expert influencers and is already developing relationships with them. That’s good news and it should be encouraged. The question to ask your PR department is whether they’re nurturing the relationships with these expert influencers online via all the social platforms on which these expert influencers have set up a presence. It’s not enough to know what the expert influencers are doing and saying in the physical world — you need to track their activity, commentary, and points of view online too. And most importantly, you need to build relationships with these influencers online as well.
The second thought that might cross your mind is that you don’t know their relative importance to each other. You may also wonder whether you do need to track their online activities. If you’re a marketer in a small business or maybe a CEO in a small business that doesn’t have a formal marketing department, you may wonder whether it is even possible to develop a relationship with these expert influencers online. Will they even care what you think? Will they even respond to your tweets, Facebook friend requests, and prodding e-mails? Those are all valid questions.
The final thing you may wonder about is whether you even have the right list of expert influencers. Thanks to the excesses of several mammoth corporations, we now live in an age where trust in formal authority is at an all-time low. An April 2009 article in The Economist emphasized that consumers are increasingly distrusting big business and are turning to each other for advice. The experts that your consumers depended upon when making purchasing decisions two years ago may not be the very same experts that they are looking towards today.
What does all this mean? Quite simply, it means that you must begin by analyzing who are the expert influencers affecting brand affinity and purchasing decisions for your consideration set. They may be all the people that your PR department is currently tracking, but that list of people may have changed too. You need to know who these expert influencers are, where they are active online, whether it is feasible to even develop a relationship with them on the social platforms in which they are participating, and, finally, how much influence they actually have.