There is little doubt that a small but influential group of consumers can have a disproportionate effect on the reputation and success of companies and brands.
Think Twitter or Facebook – a smaller network of effective social media followers is far more powerful than a thousand twitter followers who do not provide any value. Brand influencers are crucial to reaching the community because they drive interactions. Brand influencers create a
word-of-mouth sensation, as 83% of consumers trust the opinion of a friend or respected figure over a advertisement.
What are brand influencers?
Brand influencers could be potential buyers or may be so-called “value-added influencers” such as journalists, academics, industry analysts, trendsetters or those with extensive social circles. If you can find these individuals, there are no limits to your brand’s reach.
How do you find brand influencers?
You need to start with a strategy. In order to have a strategy you must understand the players and therefore identify those who can maximize your influence. For years, advertising has trained marketers that noise equals success, which isn’t true. Getting the attention of influencers who have built authority with a target audience and have earned trust in communities relevant to specific businesses is what yields the best return.
Recent research conducted by Ipsos across 23 countries globally shows that Brand Influencers tend to be more highly educated than average, with above average income. They are also more socially active and informed. They are present in all age groups, young and old, but are more likely to be men than women in most countries – but not in all.
Types of brand influencers
- Experts: These are the authorities in a certain subject, and people look to these experts for information, advice, and guidance.
- Activists: influencers get involved, with their communities, political movements, charities and so on.
- Connected: influencers have large social networks
- Impact: influencers are looked up to and are trusted by others
- Active minds: influencers have multiple and diverse interests
- Trendsetters: influencers tend to be early adopters (or leavers) in markets
- Conference and event speakers: Trusted & respected by others
- Positional Influencer: is often in the person’s inner circle. Friends, family, spouses are all examples of positional influencers.
How to engage Brand Influencers
Unlike direct marketing or old school PR, the goal of social media is to influence entire groups of people. The goal is not only to target one individual, but also his or her surrounding community. That is one of the reasons that, unlike direct marketing, the overall effectiveness of social media is not as easy to measure and has mixed opinions on value.
Connect with relevant brand influencers
Choose those with expertise, engage them and build a relationship. Talk to people who express a liking towards your business, if they say good things, get them involved.
Connect with negative brand influencers
If someone has a bad experience with your business or shows loss of interest, make certain to keep the dialogue going. Don’t just say, “Thank you.” and part ways, ask more questions and find out why — you may be able to change their mind.
The Brand Influencers are the antithesis of the passive consumer and will quickly translate their beliefs about your company into words and actions – and the effect of their opinions are likely be felt far and wide. Remember that you’ll have to give up control of your message and trust your influencers to tell the brand story through their words.
With instant technology such as social media, you have limited control of consumer conversations about your brand, but if you can focus on effective influencer strategies rather than effective control strategies, you will be infinitely more successful.
Article by Rob Barnett
Partner & Brand Strategist at Straydog