The explosion of social media has democratised communications. It has levelled the playing field, offering everyone the opportunity to become an influencer.
Used everywhere in communications and marketing, "Influencer" has become shorthand for describing individual, valuable relationships. Arguably, there’s nothing fundamentally new about brands trying (and sometimes failing) to connect and engage with people whom consumers are inspired by and seek recommendations from.
In fact, the root of influencer marketing theory can be traced back to the 1940’s two-step flow model by Lazarsfeld & Katz. (See 15 pages That Shook The Field) Through research, they found that personal contacts were far more effective at influencing voting behaviour during Presidential elections than mass media.
If people trusted their friends, family and advocates back then and still do now, what has exactly changed 70 years later?
1. People who are perceived as voice of authority
2. Ways to easily reach opinion-formers has evolved, and with it, their potential reach.
Communicators can benefit from partnering with influencers who act as authorities, enabling you to navigate discussions in real-time; connectors who can help you source ideas and grow support; activist advocates who would crowd-fund your venture, sell your products or simply offer you the right to shape a debate.
Rewind, what exactly is an influencer?
An influencer is a recognised expert or thought leader, someone people listen to about a certain subject. Most of all, an influencer has the power to inspire others about new ideas, change behaviour and motivate them to take action. Influencers can be compensated for their work but influence cannot be bought.
Alex Myers, from award-winning agency Manifest, points out, “paying for influence is like paying for sex. Those that need to pay for influence are probably not engaging enough to get it for free.”
And how does an influencer look like? We find Traackr’s influencer mapping highly relevant given the evolution of influencer relations and marketing.
For us, working with journalists, authorities, experts and disruptors (we like to think we walk on the wild side of Saas!) has given us some stand-out events and content that has really helped us build our presence and earn a seat at the grown-ups table. These ‘faces of influence’ may be involved in varied activities, such as one of our disruptor/activist influencers Jon Morter, a social media campaigner…and rock DJ.
Decide which types of influencers you want to work with, for example not every brand needs to work with celebrities…
Who would be an influencer for your brand?
Stay tuned for the next post, as we delve into 5 Steps to getting your Influencer Relations started.
Do you have suggestions or questions? Leave your comments below, if you would like us to write about a particular area of Influencer Relations.