Are you an Influencer or Just Influenced?
People spend money; that's nothing new. Sure, they may be spending less than before, given the financial times we're in, but that doesn't change the fact that people are still spending money. So what's different?
This is what's changing: the way they're choosing what to spend on.
More and more, people are ignoring the deluge of marketing that you may be investing in. For them it's just not trustworthy. Why not? Because they presume you'll tell them your side of the story and leave out the complicated or ugly parts. They expect you to lie, or at least “shape” what you have to say. You'll announce $29.99 for the fastest Internet package, but leave out the fact that it's an offer only for existing clients in certain markets and only for three months. It's natural, you want to put your best foot forward, and attract the most folks you can, but that's old school. Today they know you can't be trusted.
So if they can't trust you, where are they turning?
To each other. After all, hearing about a good deal from a trusted friend is a strategy that will never grow old. But that means finding the influencers and helping them become aware of your products or services. As seen in this article, some 1.6 billion articles (or posts, or tweets) are generating on average 500 million impressions on others. That's big time influence. So how do you become part of that wave? Here are five things to do.
First, Claim your Accounts.
If you visit a site like www.knowem.com, you can claim your accounts (and manage the process) for over 100 socially aware domains. Don't presume you need to create accounts at each of these services. But review the ones that are there, make sure you know what they do, and make sure you stake your claim.
Second, Get on Facebook.
I know, if you're a business, you still wonder if there's anything to this whole thing about a site where you can tell people what you're eating for breakfast. Don't mistake the power of the technology simply because some people use it poorly. Sixty percent of influencing is happening on www.facebook.com. Soon it will be like the days where you were odd if you didn't have a website for your business. Create your business page. Put some key information there, along with ways to reach you, and consider some of the other things that may make sense there (like FAQs).
While you're at it, look at the new community pages. These are fantastic because they can be about your brand, but they're not managed by you. Scary? Sure. But the truth is that people are already talking about you. This way you can set it up in a place where you can participate in the dialogue. It's like a community-driven WIKI page.
Third, Don't Sell. Listen.
Remember when you used to pay thousands of dollars for surveys and/or round table interviews – just so you could get a clue as to what your audience was thinking about your new product. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, along with key blogs is where all that great information is getting passed around. Use search engines to find where people are talking about you and monitor what's being said. When you hear a great story, re-post it. Turn your clients into success stories. But don't pitch. If you have a special (a real one), go ahead and promote it. But other than that, listen, watch, and learn. And when you post, highlight that you've been listening.
Fourth, Drive Responsiveness thru these new Channels.
You're dealing with groups of people who are becoming, if they're not already, very accustomed to immediate feedback loops. People are on FB and Twitter all day. They ask a question, “Where is the best place to get an oil change in XX?” and they have 23 responses in 45 minutes. It's not going to work if you post something telling them how great you do it, but you post 48 hours later. But stay clear of auto-posting. Just keep your team focused on responding within 60-90 minutes in the key places where conversations could start and stop before that time is up. Facebook and Twitter are the most well known, but there are others that might also make sense for your industry.
Lastly, Convert Influencers.
I'm a big fan of giving things away. It's the most effective way to develop trust with people close to me and ensures that they'll be talking about me when I'm not around. What are you giving away? Most importantly, are you choosing wisely when you give something away? Choose people that are networkers. Choose people who already have influence. Because when you have impact there, you're likely to experience a force multiplier. If you convert an influencer, they'll be out there promoting you simply because it's what they naturally do. And it means you've replicated your efforts thru key individuals that you chose to convert. So choose wisely. What will you give away? Who will you give it to?