Chasing the Influencer

We all understand that word of mouth is the single most powerful form of commercial persuasion.  But not all mouths are created equal.  Some people like to spread the word.  But not all words spread equally.  The person that every brand most covets has a real network of friends who actually pay attention to their posts and tweets, a knowledge and reputation surrounding the product or service category about which they are posting or tweeting, and the credibility and respect of those friends and fans in the particular arena about which they are posting/tweeting.

That person (or, rather, those people, who fit this description are, to any given brand, product or service simply the most important people in the world.

 

We marketers have been desperately chasing and looking for these folks seemingly forever.  Their elusiveness comes from a simple truth:  these influencers are not universally influential.  They are not expert about everything.  Their field of competency is narrow and their friends know it.  But therein lies their power.  When they say something about an area about which they have real creds among their circle…people listen.

 

And then comes the exciting part:  when they talk, and their friends listen, some of those friends pass this wisdom/opinion on to their friends and fans.  Many of these friends of friends have circles who may be completely invisible to the original opinionator.  And it is this ever expanding circle of influence that makes success in social media so valuable.  It is also what makes it hard to channel.  But, when one can harness this power magic happens.  That’s what ‘going viral’ means.  It is a chain reaction of thoughts bouncing like atoms in a reactor, all happening beyond the control of the marketers.

 

So what’s a poor marketer to do?  First, find your influencers.  The traditional media approach does not discriminate.  It simply tries to find as many people in a particular demo and talk at them. But today there are ways to identify genuine influencers.  Hyperactivate, is the leader in this field.  Once found you need a promotional strategy aimed directly at this incredibly valuable folks.  Treat them differently.  Treat them as the royalty they surely are (to you).  Treat them so they will continue, and even expand their influential activities.  Don’t compromise them.  Don’t attempt to turn them into shills for you.  If you do they can turn around and be as destructive to your brand as they have been constructive.  Don’t disappoint them.  They won’t disappoint you.