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Word of mouth recommendations and social media can be hugely powerful tools in marketing. So it’s not surprising that reaching out to “social media influencers” is becoming a bigger part of many social media strategies.
But what do we really mean by an influencer, and can social media tools really help? Digital and social specialist Liz Azyan looks at how to win friends and influence people on social media.
How do you define a social media influencer?
A social media influencer is somebody who not only shares great content, but also creates great content. This person is someone who is passionate about social media and building real relationships and is not just in it for the numbers. A true social media influencer doesn’t need algorithms like Klout or Kred to solidify their position as an influencer.
A sign of a great social media influencer would be somebody who is always learning, persuasive in his or her market and able to get people to take action, without even asking them to. They are usually at the root and cutting edge of innovation.
When measuring influence, which do you think is the most important characteristic that should be taken into account, e.g. number of followers, connections, or interactions?
In my humble opinion, influence should not be measured by their number of followers or fans. Being popular doesn’t mean they have influence. Influence on social media should be measured by the social capital that exists around them, where their social networks have increased value by them being in it.
This means, an influencer has the capability to increase the level of trust, reciprocity, information and cooperation associated within their social networks. I know you might think this is hard to see, but it really isn’t.
Observe how someone can get people to take collective action or bridge networks between strangers on social media. Not everybody can do this. But a true influencer can do it without even trying.
What is the most common myth with regard to targeting influencers?
The most common myth with regard to targeting influencers is that you can use current tools to identify them accurately. The truth is, the tools that exist today are inaccurate and not a true representation of the market and the relationship between the influencer and their audience.
So relying on them 100% can sometimes be misleading and a complete waste of time. Being involved in the conversations within your market and organically growing with them is the best way you could ever accurately target or identify an influencer.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using social media monitoring tools?
Social media monitoring tools are great to use as prompts and signals that something is working, not working or can work. The benefits include the ability for you to listen in on vital conversations your customers or audience are having, and feed these into your wider strategy for your company.
Social media monitoring tools on their own really can’t do any harm, but if your brand or company has spent a significant amount of money on a tool that creates a huge amount of big data, without having a way to analyse the data in a meaningful way, you might be in trouble.
We all know that knowledge is power, and there definitely is a lot of knowledge in big data. But if you don’t have a strategy to support and make sense of the data, then it might be a lost cause and waste of money.
What are the best ways to retain and engage your online social networks?
The best ways to retain and engage your online social networks is to always be present and always be human. The answer is almost like flipping the question back to yourself. i.e. How can you ensure that you retain yourself on a social network and how can you be more engaging within it?
Social networks are built on the relationships you have on them. If you disappear for weeks or months, it’s likely people will forget you and the relationship will fade in time. So, be present!
And it’s also important to remember, that social networks of value are built on human interactions, not robots. Don’t use automatic responses for when you want to create real meaningful connections. It’s the fastest ways to lose friends and followers on social networks.
Put your best foot forward but also don’t forget, social networks is a place to be serving, not selling.
How do you see the future of influence marketing?
The future of influence marketing is promising and is a great way to highlight the work of individuals that really do add value to the market. But it can only sustain itself by also providing a high level of transparency.
This is vital because the minute people start losing trust and see it as another form of selling, the attraction of influence marketing might fade right back into the background.