While the first thing that comes to mind when you think about outreach is bloggers, you might be overlooking influence in other channels. Social influence is everywhere from Twitter to Pinterest. It can even be found in forums or private groups like iVillage, Yahoo and Facebook. And with marketing becoming more visual, you might be surprised at just how much impact a single photo can have.
Let’s start thinking outside the blog!
How do you identify an influencer?
The answer to this all depends on your marketing strategy. Decide what’s important to you first, then the concept of influencer marketing will make more sense. Among the many definitions out there, I like this simple one best from BusinessDictionary.com: “Influencers are Individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship.”
Traditionally marketers might have created word of mouth marketing through tactics like Avon lipstick samples. Today, it is less costly and makes a higher impact to market to social influence by courting bloggers and tweeters so they can try your product.
An influencer is not necessarily someone who has a large following, but someone who engages well with an online community and can potentially get their followers to engage with your brand.
What do they look like? Here are a couple influencers that might surprise you.
Boo the Dog
The official Facebook fan page for Boo, unofficially the cutest dog in the world, has almost seven million likes. This little fame-ine has landed deals with big brands like Gund, Nordstrom and Virgin Airlines. One photo is enough to melt the hearts of 70,000 people. Can you blame them? In addition to the likes and comments, there are thousands of people sharing his photos with their Facebook friends. And yes I will confess, I have a Gund Boo plush and two books sitting on my shelf. That’s influence.
The same photo melts another 6,400 hearts on Instagram:
One of the Web’s Most Sought After Influencers (Who’s Not a Dog)
In 2010, Calvin Lee @MayhemStudios was called a Twitter Marketing Phenomenon by Forbes. While he does have a blog, it wasn’t blogging that made him famous. He’s actually kind of a big deal on Twitter, Instagram and other social networks. Calvin is sought after by major consumer brands to try their products and spread the word to his 82,000+ followers. Why so influential you might wonder? It’s not that complicated. He’s genuinely an all around nice guy whom people trust, not to mention he loves sharing. Trust is a key ingredient.
@MayhemStudios Tweet on Influence:
@MayhemStudios Twitter followers wearing his official t-shirt:
Where to Look For Hidden Influence
- Twitter – Because they influence topics and opinions in discussions with large, engaged audiences.
- Pinterest – Because they share photos that link back to your site.
- Instagram – Because they’ll share a visual of their product experience with everyone using their smartphone.
- Foursquare – Because they’ll help others discover your store, restaurant or venue, compete for mayorship and leave positive tips about your products.
Now, think outside the blog. Where can your brand find influence?
About the Author: Melonie is the Chief Social Strategist at Fandom Marketing, a social marketing company in San Diego, where she helps brands connect to customers online. She is President of Social Media Club San Diego whose mission is spread knowledge and best practices. Get more marketing insights from Melonie on her popular marketing blog BrandsWithFansBlog.com or connect with her on Twitter @melonie.