When social media first gained momentum, brands were scrambling to be present. It was a battle to be seen and heard in ‘new’ media. I am sure you’ve all heard the popular saying “content is king” which is very true, however mass producing content and just continually pushing it out wasn’t giving many brands the return on their investment (spending marketing dollars to get buying action).
You now can see there has been a shift from this mass production of any content to specific targeted marketing, taking a more strategic approach and directing tailored messaging and content to specific individuals, communities and influencers (those that cause action). This shift in the social media and marketing industry has moved the pendulum from just creating awareness, to driving action by targeting those that care, are interested, that will engage, and thus influence, as well as share/promote your content.
Research has shown time and time again that consumers are more receptive to messages about brands that come from the individuals’ own social circles than from the brands themselves. So who are these individuals, what do they look like and how can they help?
You really have two types of people you can leverage to aid your target marketing and social strategy efforts:
Influencers: Popular, well-respected, quasi-celebrities in your industry/space that share and engage in relevant content, and have a large audience and an engaged following.
Advocates: Vocal evangelists who are already a big fan of what you do and have first-hand experience with your brand.
Influencers are usually thought leaders; they have authority in the industry, space or community you’re wishing to engage with. These thought leaders include popular bloggers or journalists, vloggers, authors, speakers, consultants, analyst or researchers. Really, an influencer is an expert or opinionated person in a field who regularly produces content and has earned a following on a social channel, whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, a blog or other.
It’s important to note, influencers usually want to know what’s in it for them. They are focused on Klout, followers and increasing their authority as a trusted advisor in their space. How can they help? Influencers grow awareness (this is key) and affinity. They drive scalability, virality and expand reach, engagement and thus impressions. Think BIG, think attraction, think spreading news. Gearing up for a big product launch, and getting your word out to as many people as possible in a certain space, would be a good example of when an influencer can help you.
Advocates often times are customers, partners, employees or other stakeholders, brand loyalists or natural champions. Think connection, think emotive, think experienced, and think genuinely committed.
You don’t have to sell them on your brand and there doesn’t have to be a value exchange. These individuals already love your company and/or products so all you have to do is let their voice be heard.
These advocates have strong relationships within their networks and are your best references for case studies, testimonials, blogposts etc. An example would be giving a brand advocate early access to a product in beta then using their feedback to enhance the offering and perhaps get a testimonial and/or use case from them for your launch materials.
So depending on what you are trying to achieve, the idea is to leverage these individuals, influencer or advocate, to make your life easier. Do you want to draw mass awareness about a new campaign or product release? Find an influencer. Do you want help create engaging, authentic content? Find an advocate. Now that you can identify each, go out there and find your influencers and advocates. Help them help you!
Interested in how Sysomos can help you find brand influencers and brand advocates? Click here.