Identifying the Right (True) Influencers of Your Audience
In his article Social Influence and the Marketer’s Dilemma, Danny Brown identifies what he calls the four As of marketing success: audience, acceptance, application, and amplification. He asserts that these four tenets are the keys marketers have to address to experience success. However, he makes another very important point, which is that marketers have to identify a brand’s true influencers in order to use these four tenets to meet their goals. Without the right influencers, the marketing success cycle is broken.
Celebrities vs. Influencers
Today’s consumer is far less influenced by TV commercials and radio spots than consumers were in the past. Sure, such advertisements, when executed well, still draw attention, build awareness, and drive sales, but today’s consumers stop to consider peer-to-peer feedback and recommendations before they buy. This means consumers are less likely to take an interest in what brands have to offer simply because of a glitzy ad or even an earnest appeal from a brand. Instead, they seek knowledge from those they trust–those with influence over them–to decide where to focus their attention and how to spend their money.
In days gone by, there was much more interest in using celebrity endorsements to influence consumers. However, this approach can often backfire, especially when a celebrity’s reputation takes a hit because of some sort of scandal (think Lance Armstrong). And in addition to that, Brown points out, consumers are much more likely to question whether a celebrity actually uses the product or service for which he’s become an advocate. This is not to say that celebrity endorsements are a thing of the past. They’re still going strong. Instead, the simple truth is consumers are putting more stock in the recommendations of their peers and influencers they trust, and brands are taking notice.
The Right Influencers for Your Brand
As with anything, it’s not just choosing another approach that makes the most difference. It’s choosing the right approach, or in this case, the right influencers. Haphazard selection leads to wasted effort, time, and money and nothing to show for it except hard lessons learned. So how can you choose the right influencers?
Here are critical steps to take in identifying the influencers who are right for spreading your brand’s message:
- Identify topics you can use to engage your audience
- Monitor conversations about the topics you’ve identified, your industry, and your brand–and who is doing most of the talking
- Take note of influencers who are positive about your topics
- Note any influencers with whom you’ve already engaged or with whom you or your team members have developed a relationship (even an early relationship); make a note of influencers you’re following as well
Once you’ve made an initial list of influencers, your job is far from over. At this point, you still have a good deal of analysis to complete. You’ll have to consider how well engaged each influencer is with an audience that is part of your market, how active he or she is in the social media realm, what level of credibility he or she enjoys, and which social media tools/platforms he or she uses to reach out to the individuals you seek influence over. You’ll also need to be sure that the influencer you’re considering isn’t already advocating for one of your competitors, and therefore, unlikely to have an interest in working with your brand.
These are just some of the factors to consider when you’re searching for the right influencers for your marketing plans. And as Danny says, this is where the work is only just starting – but the work of creating an influence marketing program will be vastly easier if you begin with the right influencers.
Image credit: Koshyk