19 Jun 2019
One of the most impactful books I have ever read was ‘How to win friends and influence people’, written by Dale Carnegie in 1936. Over 15 million copies have been sold worldwide making it one of the most popular self-help books of all time.
While social media was a far flung fantasy in 1936 the principles Carnegie talked about then are very relevant in our digital communication world.
We are witnessing a consumer revolution, where people are becoming more involved in their purchasing process fuelled by limitless online influence and explanation by product experts and influencers.
The key for any small business has to be the go to influencer for their existing clients and targeted potential customers and it’s not as difficult or as radical as you may think.
Every business now has the tools at their disposal to do just this, the internet and the right mix of social media.
Influencers have been around far longer than social media. Carnegie in the 30’s would have seen Hollywood stars promote everything from cigarettes, cars and cosmetics.
One aspect of our modern society has been the new breed of famous actors, musicians and athletes that have become the celebrity influencers who have for good or ill created many a fashion trend.
Social media has widened the influencer curve, it is no longer traditional celebrities that are, moulding and creating societies tastes and trends. A new breed of social media influencers are increasingly altering behaviours and opinions through regular, honest and open communication with their followers. These Social media influencers are building loyal and respective audiences that actively seek out their knowledge and opinions.
The latest available figures at the start of 2019 highlight that world-wide Influencer marketing spend is likely to reach over £20billion a year by 2020.
This is because of 3 simple reasons:
I would contend that every small business should be considering what their Influencer marketing strategy should be. Far too many of us have a website and social media presence because we feel we have too. The question we should be asking is what are we trying to achieve with social media? I’d contend that the answer should be to drive sales and create loyalty. As without both we won’t survive.
Social media should not be a chore but a core part of your marketing strategy and communications mix. It is the perfect platform to influence people to use your business.
As a small business owner, you can easily foster connections with individuals on social media. Your goal should be to become the key influencer in your field for your clients, otherwise someone else will step in to this role!
So how can you become a Social media influencer? Here are 7 tips I believe can help you.
The first thing you need to do is to choose the area in which you want to be known for. You can use your experience, expertise in this field to create your online persona. Passion is also important, people like influencers who are authentic and whose passion flows through their communications.
People use social media for many reasons and one of most powerful is to solve problems. They are seeking guidance and will drift towards the knowledgeable and passionate. They value those who not only know their stuff but show they care about it.
Make sure whenever you post you showcase this passion and your expertise.
You also need to be clear about who you want to influence, or in business speak who is your target audience.
This is a vital part of any influencer strategy, as is deciding what social media platform to use. Instagram and Pinterest are excellent choices if you're aspiring to reach out to millennials. On the other hand, if your target audience consists mostly of business executives, LinkedIn may be your best bet.
Some social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to post a diverse range of content formats while others like YouTube and Instagram only focus on providing users a limited content format e.g. video and pictures.
Be sensible and select the right mediums and stick with them. Trying to use every medium will just make it difficult for you to build credibility and followers.
The content you post will determine the success of any influencer strategy.
Content is the most important part of developing an influencer strategy. Success is providing your audience with the right balance of informative facts and personal content. Remember, one reason why people trust influencers is due to their relatability and authenticity.
Out of every 10 posts you publish in your social media account, five of these should be valuable content written by someone else, three educational and informative content you created yourself, and two should be personal posts about yourself and your business brand.
You may be puzzled thinking "How will this help me become an influencer if half of the content I'll be publishing is from someone else?"
Firstly, influencers are known for being able to provide valuable content to their audience. That includes sharing content written by others that they believe their followers will find useful and answer the problems they have.
Secondly influencers are those who put their own spin on others content. Showcase your own knowledge by adding your insights into other perspectives. Promote your empathy by sharing content you know your clients care about and when you do say why you also care about it.
Finally, sharing content published by other influencers in your area of expertise or industry will help you slowly attract their attention. As a result, it will be much easier to reach out to them and ask them to share your content in the future.
While you’re still in the process of establishing your credibility and expertise as a social media influencer, you’ll need to actively grow your follower numbers.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is through blogging. Even though more Internet users are turning to social media networks for information, the fact remains that you don't entirely own your space here. One misstep can easily cause these social media networks to take down your account, causing you to lose all of your content and followers. Also platforms rise and fall in popularity but one area you have total control over is your own web site.
Blogging can help you kick start your follower base by helping you get discovered. By including social media sharing buttons on each of your blog posts, your visitors can share your content and web page with their respective social media networks.
Blogging also ensures regular traffic to your website helping you develop a site that is less of a product brochure and more of a living breathing environment where you and your clients engage on a regular basis.
Finally remember Dale Carnegie and ensure your influencer strategy and key messages are based around the needs, problems and wants of the people you want to retain as clients or develop as customers. As Dale said ‘talk to someone about themselves and they'll listen for hours’.
John Joe McGinley June 2019