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How to Genuinely Have an Impact on Influencers

27 November 2012 BY

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the SEO and PR industry. The reason? Google’s latest developments – mainly Authorship and its ranking signals. For a change this is not only one for SEOs, this time it also highly impacts other professions such as PRs and journalists.

Frankly put industries that have quite a few similarities as both require high visibility and exposure to increase ROI on their efforts. The foundation of PR is creating compelling content that grasps their target audiences’ attention but in order to grasp their attention any PR has to be armed with the finest relationship building skills with the hope that influential journalists will cover the topic, right?

Journalists on the other hand have to ensure that they are well respected and trusted within the industry to maximise their ROI, therefore visibility and exposure are crucial. So where am I going with this?

Empowering Content Creators

Thanks to Authorship, Google is rating and ranking the people who are actually writing and producing compelling content. Due to the combination of Google+ and Authorship (encouraging authors to link their content with their G+ profile) the search giant is en route to empower people rather than domains! This as a result will highly contribute to greater credibility for each individual content publisher. Meaning that their individual credibility in the wild jungle of content will highly increase as from now on we’re be able to see who’s behind the content.

As I am a blogger for State of Search :) here’s my Google Authorship profile

Google’s SERPs for all the blog posts I have published in connection with my G+ profile

Sweet, isn’t it? Assuming you’re a digital marketer you now have to ensure that credible and trustworthy authors are covering your market. Once you have identified the key players, it’s time you get in touch with them so they can start influencing their audience. And here we are now, this actually constitutes one of the biggest challenges, how do you go about to influence those who are dominant and relevant in your market?

We live in an age where social networks and personalization dominate the online sphere: 24/7 product related conversations are taking place be it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and all the rest of it. So how can we best influence those who have the biggest impact on your target audience?

What is Influence?

So what do I really mean by influence? Influence at the really high level is the ability to change someone’s thought or action. A lot of people say that influence has to create a certain action but that’s not necessarily true. Every time you move people down the purchase funnel, when you change someone’s mind for example not being aware of your product to being aware, interested and desirable then you have changed their mind. That’s a form of influence. And then eventually you influence them so much that they take an action be it making a purchase or a referral to a friend – that’s influence. So it’s either changing a person’s mind or action.

The crucial point though is how you influence people: changing someone’s mind by paying or bribing them is certainly not the way to genuinely influence!

The Golden Rules of Influence

  • Don’t offer a monetary reward – Reward your influencers, but not in monetary terms, how about an incentive? Maybe a free sample of your product or a trial? If they are using your product they’ll become familiar with it and only then are they in the position to truly and genuinely share and hopefully advocate what you’re doing.
  • You must never force them to do anything, that will only backfire
  • If they are not interested they are simply not interested. What’s the point of annoying them? You’ll just wind them up and that’s the last thing you want. Remember people always meet twice in life and next time you might actually have something of interest for them on offer
  • Don’t frustrate them, they truly need to want to share what you’ve got on offer, otherwise your target audience won’t get the whole picture and even might feel deceived.
  • Don’t trick them, always be genuine, no one wants to be tricked!

What have we learnt so far then? Influence is the ability to cause a change in people’s minds or their actions whereas the above must not under any circumstances be applied.

How do you pick and choose your influencers – 6 Factors to Consider

Finding influencers is often misunderstood, most of us claim that we can find influencers but what we are finding are the noise makers. To help you a bit I’ve summarised 6 factors to consider when on the outlook for those with the most impact. Mind you, it’s always a two-way party dynamic or in other words a synergy.

The influencer’s influence has to be propagated to his/her ‘community’ this can only be achieved when the influencer provides relevant and trusted content in order to create some kind of contagious effect.

  • Domain credibility: simply because there is no such thing as an universal influencer. People are usually influential within certain domains or specific social networks.
  • Bandwidth: the influencer has to have high bandwidth, what does he/she focus on? What’s his/her area of expertise? How loud are they essentially. There are 2 different ways to determine their bandwidth. The participation philosophy: how quickly they participate (number of time they tweet each day, number of blogs written over a period). As well as social equity: the total number of followers they have, FB number of friends, G+ number of circles, in other words their popularity.
  • Credibility: They have to be trustworthy, and active, telling their world their opinion on a continuous basis
  • Relevance: the influencer has to be relevant taking into account what the target audience wants.  Imagine I am a camera expert and you are trying to buy oragnic food, I won’t be able to influence you, right? Because my expertise isn’t relevant to you. Therefore relevance has 2 different components. Content relevance and tempo relevance: the relevance in the time of the domain. Every consumer has a decision window where they are most receptive to influence. However, this depends greatly on the product: if I want to buy a laptop I will probably research laptops for a couple of months before I make the purchase, so that time is my decision window.  If I want to buy a car though I probably research for 6 months….so the relevant time is usually now and the relevant window is usually how long you have to look back in order to determine the influence. Some influencers might be really relevant to the topic of your interest but it was too long ago therefore they might not be talking about that topic anymore so it becomes irrelevant to the target audience. Note: the product’s buying cycle has to be determined when deciding on a campaign!
  • Channel alignment:  the alignment of where the influencer and the target is, obviously they have to be in the same place. So if you’re trying to influence people on Twitter it doesn’t do you any good if you find FB influencers. Also if you run a campaign in San Francisco it doesn’t help you to have an influencer in New York. Therefore it can either be in a physical location or in the digital world’s case online channels.
  • Trust: Regardless from the other factors, if the target doesn’t trustthe influencer your brand’s message won’t be amplyfied.

What have we learned?

It’s important for you to clearly understand and know how quickly your client’s message will be amplified through the influencer in order to appropriately plan your campaign. To truly do that though it’s essential that you understand the buying cycle of the product/service you are trying to promote.

Even tough we are speaking mainly online here :), the actual geographical/physical location can play an important role as well. Therefore you ought to know which regions they are influencing. Are they influential in the States? Are they influential in Europe?

Be honest to yourself and understand your place in the market. If you’re a small business with little authority, you cannot expect to target the top influencers right away. Everyone must earn their authority over time. And this must be managed carefully.

If your market’s influencer is known to be funny, don’t give him/her something too technical and boring. Give them something to resonate with. Give them a hot topic, which is relevant to them. Help them feed their audience with what they want. Help them to provide their audience with something of the greatest, latest and hottest topics currently (easing their workload).

The rule is that “Everyone must receive value, it’s a synergy” therefore value has to be added to that community!

AUTHORED BY:
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Clarissa is a bilingual Strategic Marketing MA graduate with rounded experience in a number of key marketing disciplines including social media, project management, research and business development. Clarissa is Marketing Graduate at Linkdex.
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