Social Media Marketing: Finding Influencers to Support Your Brand
It doesn’t often enter into our thought process, but every purchase we make is affected by an agent of influence. We’re constantly persuaded, motivated, and moved by media. Our daily choices, preferences, and leanings are all subtly pushed one way or the other, by the random bits of media we digest on the regular. It’s akin to mass hypnosis really. So who’s the man holding the watch? Media is created by authoritative brand voices, and brand voices usually boil down to powerful individuals within an organization. Of course, it goes much deeper than that. All the way down to innocuous personal observations. You might choose a particular bag because you saw someone with one on the train, or you could have chosen a particular brand of television because you have a friend who raves about the picture quality. Does that mean we can’t make decisions on our own? Not at all. Our decisions are based on culture, experience, and belief. The truth is when we’re thinking of buying something, our choices are significantly filtered by our environments and the influences to which we’re exposed.
Influence MarketingThe concept of targeting influential individuals within your market, rather than the folks in your relevant demographics, isn’t anything new. It’s called influence marketing, and celebrities have long been a mainstay in its use. Recognizable faces are constantly used to endorse brands because they exert an intangible influence over large swaths of the population. This aspect of influence has become much more important with the flowering of social media. Ordinary people can now become influencers, occasionally without even trying. That means authoritative voices within separate niches are more persuasive than ever before. This can make for a valuable resource in any marketing effort, be it for small businesses or large enterprise. Of course, we still tend to look at what celebrities are doing and wearing, but we all know these are mostly paid endorsements. Social media influencers are another matter entirely. They carry a different sort of weight than people involved with traditional endorsement. When a friend or a colleague raves about a particular restaurant on Facebook, for example, you don’t really wonder what they have to gain from the glowing review. But targeting important social media users presents unique challenges. In order to mount an effective influence marketing strategy, you first have to identify eligible and targetable influencers.
Types of Influencers on Social MediaThere are 5 distinct types of social media influencers:
- The Networker– we all know someone who seems to spend all their time posting on Facebook or tweeting about something and have a million contacts
- The Opinion Alpha – these are figures of authority, known to be experts in their field. They have a ton of credibility, and add a ton of clout to whatever products or services they endorse
- The Discoverer– always posts about the newest and latest in the market, they have a ton of fans and droves of followers. They’re the hipsters of the social media world; anything you think is cool, they were into it back in ’09 before it got “too mainstream”
- The Curator– an avid follower, this individual is quick to disseminate relevant information they get from other people to niche blogs or forums. Examples include: bloggers, reporters, and even news outlets that provide valuable links
- The User– not as prolific as networkers, but they wield a lot of influence in their own circles. These are basically your target market. If you’re in a niche with a passionate market they fall into this category quite nicely
How to Identify and Target Influencers on Social MediaIf you’re starting a new business or, simply want to promote a certain brand, you’ll want to find out what kind of social media influencer would best be leveraged in meeting your goals. Not every type will be a good fit. The first thing you need to do is to determine where you want to concentrate your efforts. You can focus on more than one social media outlet, but you want to limit the number so you can keep up with it. Unless you have multiple employees working on it, in which case you can obviously stratify your focus. Social networks have all sorts of tools to find niche communities on their platforms. Hashtags or trending topics on Twitter and Facebook, specific boards on Pinterest, groups on LinkedIn, and the list goes on. See which networks have the most active industry voices by giving these platforms a thorough once over. The process you use to find the most active niche communities will vary on each social media platform. Look out for:
- Lots of users with interests aligned to your niche
- Active discussions concerning your industry
- The social media presence of big brands within your industry
- relevance, and