Defining Marketing & PR: Influence

Influence

(noun) the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.

(verb) have an influence on.

 Everything you

See (Images, Infographics, Advertisments…)

Hear (Radio, Music, Conversations…)

Read (Tweets, Digital News, Texts, Email…)

                influences us in some manner.

What makes an Influencer?

Influencers can be anyone who has an above-average impact on a industry, product, or topic. Social media has extended the reach of the average person to stand alongside those who have traditionally filled the influencer role. In the past impactful influencers were limited to those who had a large reach through traditional media or celebrities (think endorsements). Now influencers include a mix of these and more:

  • Bloggers
  • Industry Analysts
  • Celebrities
  • Journalists
  • Your Competition
  • Non Profit Organizations
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Community Leaders
  • Brand Advocates

In some cases it is immediate (High Impact – celebrities, journalists) and obvious in others it can be repeated exposure of time (Long-Term Impact – brand advocates, family, friends).

Identifying who the influencers are in your space is essential when conducting outreach. Each campaign, product launch etc should be viewed and evaluated as a unique opportunity to identify the proper influencers. Focusing efforts helps the brand show it is interested in its consumers and potential consumers by putting its message in the optimum settings. Leveraging influencers helps build trusted relationships with existing and potential customers.

Influence is the Psychology of Persuasion

Understanding the difference between influence and the pitfall of popularity is were some brands get this muddied.

Many view influence only in terms of Followers (On Twitter this means is one subscribes to someone elses tweets) and Likes (On Facebook this means some one enjoyed what you posted without leaving a comment). Neither of these provides insight as to if this person has any influence related to the brand. All this tells you is that they have a level of popularity.

What really defines an influencer is how they impact a brand – this can be positive (increase in sales of widgets) or negative (people protesting your business practices).

  • A strong influencer has credibility with their followers because they interact with them regularly and in a meaningful way.
  • They provide a level of knowledge and in many cases expertise in the industry in question.
  • When they discuss a topic or request a call to action there is movement from their followers. Their thoughts are RT or Shared or Commented On in a way that moves people to act.

Should you spend money chasing influencers? I don’t think so. True influencers (and subsequently brand advocates) are organic. A brand that interacts with its public (that is public relations part of this equation) regularly within the channels that their customers frequent be it Twitter, Instagram, Google+ etc ( you get the idea) or any combination there of will create and identify their influencers.

Should you spend money to identify influencers? Yes.

Should you monitor what influencers are saying about your brand, industry etc? Yes.

Should you measure the outcomes of those interactions? Absolutely Yes!

Last Thought: Keep an authentic and transparent presence in social and traditional media and influencers will grow like weeds 🙂

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