“What’s clear, is that in social networks, information is not only democratized, it is deafening. For brands hoping to connect value with demand, rising above the noise is critical, but in order to see the effects of a rising tide, it must have a fleet of boats in the water.” – Brian Solis, briansolis.com
Brian Solis’ recent post on Influencing the Influencer points to an all too often ignored fact about social media marketing: connecting with authorities is not enough – you also need to engage those authorities in their language, around topics that interest them, on an ongoing basis.
This concept of engaging the influencers is nothing new, and is quickly becoming a popular way for brands to market to relevant authorities.
Old Spice did this during its recent Old Spice Man ad campaign by posting amusing YouTube shout-outs to big names like Ellen DeGeneres, George Stephanopoulos, gossip blogger Perez Hilton, tech gadget blog Gizmodo, and Kevin Rose, founder of Digg.com whose tweet “Holy sh*t, best get well video ever from Old Spice” was seen by his million plus followers and helped the campaign go viral.
We’ve done this ourselves using our own influence metrics for brands such as Volkswagen, who recently used our tools to find influential speakers on “hot hatchbacks” to invite to an exclusive track day for the new Golf GTi.
However, finding the influencers and offering free stuff (be it coupons, test drives or entertainment) is only the beginning. As Brian Solis puts it, “Recognition is a start. Reward is a gesture. Engagement and reciprocity is how we christen relationships.”
“Engagment and reciprocity.” What exactly does that mean?
Identify contexts that resonate with the audience
Many brands struggle with this the most, which is why there are so many tools on the market designed to help companies identify prominent topics around particular issues or brands. All of these services offer their share of insights, but don’t overlook the simplest tool of all: listening.
Read blogs and forums, follow the influencers on Twitter, friend them on Facebook. Listen to the influencers, but be critical. Look out for trends, find out what people value, and observe which topics people like to share. What inspires people? And what can you add to the mix?
Use your audience’s preferred media platforms to engage with them
We’ve been talking a lot about Twitter, but before you go all gung-ho with the tweets, think first about where your audience is. They might be bloggers, or YouTube fans, or forum regulars, or Facebook fanatics.
Volkswagen found its hatchback fans in automotive forums. Old Spice found its fans on YouTube. It’s all about where your audience is hanging. Find their space and stay focused on that.
Keep giving back
Not only do you have to start with something relevant and shareable, but you need to maintain your relevance through sustained engagement. And the more personal the engagement, the better.
Starbucks has done this very well by sharing customer stories on Facebook, offering service and incentives on Twitter and maintaining its personalised approach across all of these channels. Old Spice has sustained engagement through coupon promotions, continued posts to its YouTube channel and ongoing humorous tweets from the Old Spice Man.
Any kind of web content, be it tweets, blog entries, or Facebook posts, will disappear if they don’t resonate with your audience. However, by connecting with influencers and sustaining interaction through relevant, shareable content, you can help your message stay above water and reach the masses.
“I’ve seen businesses do this: engage influencer audiences with something smart, get positive reactions, and end it there. This is a missed opportunity as the most desirable outcome is for this audience to help you become a referential source your brand. And the forgotten thing is the influencer audience knows they have influence and wants to use it to help others rise as this helps their own sphere of influence grow. They didn’t carve out a digital reputation to do nothing with it.” Adam Singer, thefuturebuzz.com
- Social Media’s Critical Path: Relevance to Resonance to Significance [Harvard Business Review]
- Influencing the Influencer [Brian Solis]
- Klout & Starbucks Team Up On Influential Twitterer Marketing [Legends of Aerocles]
- Marketing lessons from Old Spice Man [Entrepreneur.com]
- Thoughts on the Influencer Audience [The Future Buzz]
- Unpacking Klout: True measure of influence? [ConversationAgent]
- Companies that Measure Social Media, Influence and Brand [Jeremiah Owyang]