With the rise and rise of social media and the increasingly diverse number of platforms available for users to publish their thoughts and opinions, the concept of a “word of mouth” recommendation has evolved to “word to many”. The reach of a happy, or more worryingly unhappy, customer has increased from telling one or two friends about their experience, to telling all of their friends, at once, with the click of a button.
Taking this into account, it comes as no surprise that communications professionals are no longer just focused on building relationships with traditional press and broadcast journalists but are placing equal emphasis on targeting niche bloggers, online communities and high-profile social media users or “influencers”, as they are called. Influencers can make a powerful contribution to a brand’s impact as they not only have direct contact with real potential customers but they are also trusted by those potential customers.
To find out more about how influencers can contribute to your communication strategy, check out our infographic for some practical tips:
A picture can paint a thousand words but a few words can completely change the meaning of a picture. Jeff MacGurn completed a study of viral content which showed that people’s sentiment towards a subject varies greatly depending on the context in which it is shown. A picture of a suitcase can inspire delight, with the caption, “Moving home after 10 years away!”, or despair, with the caption, “Leaving home forever to find work”. Those involved in digital roles are now shifting their focus from just content to context. Communicators should ask influencers to co-create content that is meaningful to them rather than just feeding them information. Give influencers a gift that touches them, and they’ll pay it forward.
Building a strong relationship with an influencer who has a wide reach can have extremely positive results . For example, with over 280,000 Twitter followers, if fashionista Olivia Palermo was to tweet positively about your clothing brand’s latest designs it is likely you would get a positive response. However, as Brian Solis, social media guru, points out “Influence is not popularity”. Having a large number of followers does not guarantee authority. Using the same example of Olivia Palermo, if she were to tweet about your financial company’s latest pension product it is unlikely it would garner the same level of positive response because, although well known, Palermo is not an authority on the finance industry.
A trusted influencer can generate highly authoritative links which will have a positive effect on your website and SEO strategy. If an influencer truly believes in your brand they will be more inclined to generate authentic, passionate, favourable posts. What drives influence is trust, and authenticity inspires trust… authentic posts from an influencer will increase word-of-mouth referrals.
Recommendations and word-of-mouth reviews can affect each part of the purchase funnel, with substantial business results. Ran Shaul, one of the leading experts on influence marketing said, “When we talk about influence, it’s everything besides buzz. We don’t count likes or tweets, we measure the impact of purchases within your social circle”. Connect the dots between your likes and purchases and use that customer intelligence to your advantage to demonstrate direct return on social media marketing.