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Up Close @ SMX East: Everyone’s Wrong About Influence Except Your Customers
Are influencers as scarce as marketers once thought? Not in the age of social media and user-generated content.
What is influence? For a decade, Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has served as a touchstone for those who believe that influence resides in the hands of a select few. Not so, say a new generation of marketers. They believe that thanks to the democratizing power of the internet, anyone can be an Influential. Both camps are wrong. True influence flows from drawing together people with shared interests. This session focuses on the process of identifying areas of relevancy among your customers and prospects, building community, and allowing others to amplify your influence as you meet their needs.
This intriguing description of the “Everyone’s Wrong About Influencers, Except Your Customers” session set the stage for speaker Valeria Maltoni, Vice President of Digital Strategy at PM Digital, who used the session to answer the questions the introductory paragraph raised.
Her presentation began with Steven Spielberg’s ice bucket challenge video:
“How would you like to have that kind of influencer?” Maltoni asked the audience. “What if you could capitalize on those influencers before it became a huge hit?”
Social Networks Are The New Cable Channel
People are tuned into their own channels and their own streams, these days. The social networks are trying to capitalize on that by courting influencers. This has created a system whereby mommy bloggers can bring a corporation to its knees because of their level of influence.
So, if influencers are so important and they are not able to be simply bought, how do you appeal to influencers based on what they think about themselves? (Note: This idea — that what they think about themselves is important — is explored further in this session.)
Information Spreads Through Shared Interests
Several factors play into that sharing:
Gossip – people talking amongst themselves about the things that matter to them. It is a human lever that can be used to move the opinions of the masses.
Note that gossip and rumor are not the same thing. Gossip is rooted in fact. Rumor is based on hypotheses. Rumor is the root cause of crisis because it is unsubstantiated and prone to inaccuracy.
Experiences – groups come together based on their passions, needs or supports. Ducati motorcycle enthusiasts gather on their own to enjoy their hobby, unconnected to anything driven by the brand. People with illnesses gather to find support in their time of need. Hobbyists gravitate toward each other to discuss their passion, whatever it may be.
Ninety-two percent (92%) of consumers say that word-of-mouth is their primary reason for buying or supporting a product or cause. Because of this, there is an opportunity to join the word-of-mouth conversation.
Social media allows users to:
- Influence opinions
- Exchange important information
- Point out and enforce social rules
- Learn from mistakes
Social trends often seem to be driven by influencers but marketers can’t seem to ID those influencers in advance. Why not?
The Three Types of Influencers
Maltoni returns to Malcolm Gladwell’s TheTipping Point which divides influencers into three groups: Connectors, Salesmen and Mavens.
- Connectors: introduce people
- Salesmen: sell ideas
- Mavens: set trends
The Hard Truth
Mommy bloggers don’t tell their readers about you because they like you, they tell them because the information they’re passing along matters in their world. What is most important is what matters to them, not what matters to you.
They tell their readers about something because they like the readers. If it is meaningful to the blogger’s life, if it is useful to their readers, they will share it. They aren’t going to share your things merely because they like you.
There are two kinds of influences: Wide and Deep
- Wide: spread across many areas, knowing about issues, like having things on the radar, building wide acceptance and buy-in
- Deep: evangelists, concentrated, focused on one topic, have credibility and trust from past experience
So, how do we as marketers identify the attractors of Gladwell’s influencer categories? Figure it out and then design based on those.
Tailor Your Efforts Toward Each Type Of Influencer’s Motivations
Connect – Tap into their desire to be part of a tribe and make online and offline connections. Examples of these types of influencers include investors seeking objective sources of information and those who find significance based on location.
Inquire – Dive into the information you have to learn more about who they are and where they’ve been. What’s coming up? Wearable technology, smart cars, and healthcare are becoming integrated into all aspects of our lives. Identify influencers based on what they say, connect based on what they do. What would they say about themselves?
Notice – UGC has more credibility and gives them a reason to come back. Build a community that is focused and passionate and participate in communities that already exist. Help users to be better at what they do. Support them in supporting others. Rather than trying to manage how they perceive their brand, instead light fires around your brand and give them places to gather and discuss. What are the key content categories and topics your audience is interested in?
How You See Yourself Impacts Your Loyalty To A Brand
Commit — For every creator of content, there are 9 contributors and 90 consumers. Empower the one percent that are creators — that will spread down to the contributors and consumers. When people see action happening, they want to know what’s going on.
Respond – According to Maltoni, Kickstarter is a good place to test campaigns. Deconstruct successful campaigns to see what works and what doesn’t. Getting people to give you money definitely shows influence. Forty-one percent of Kickstarter campaigns get funded. What are they doing right?
Provide platforms to let people do more. Provide better feedback to customers who reach out. Sixty-three percent of people have a physical/emotional reaction to getting good customer service. It’s a simple thing, but it makes people love you. Your reaction time matters. It must be fast — immediate even. Issues come up and need to be addressed.
What Is The Bigger Context?
A story that resonates, the ability to spread it, making them the hero, doing something meaningful because you enable them to be part of the amazing. Give them something to be proud of – if I feel smarter or more interesting because of something I learned or connected with, I will share it.
As a final thought, Maltoni asks, “How can you make your customers more interesting? Who will influence your customers?”
It has to be you.
If not, who will it be?
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.