How can you influence your customers so that they in turn influence others to become your customers? Delivered as a Pecha Kucha presentation by Carol Morgan Cox at Orlando, Inc.'s B.I.G. Summit on November 18, 2010.
How can you influence your customers so that they in turn influence others to become your customers? This is what I call Social Influence Squared. We’re going to take a look at the different kinds of influence, what makes a good influencer, how to find your influencers, and what factors make it likely someone will be influenced.
There are different types of influence. The wrong kind is probably what we think of when we first hear the word “influence”. Lobbyists influencing politicians via campaign contributions; the mafia influencing with bribes and even threats of violence. Probably not the kind of influence we want.
But there are also positive ways to influence others. Successful companies do this very well by sharing stories that are easy to understand and easy to remember, like why Newman’s Own donates 100% of the profits to charities. So ask yourself, what story does your company have that people would be interested in - what can they relate to and what would they want to share with others?
Is there a product or brand you love that you tell everyone about? How many Prius owners have rhapsodized about their cars? How many people have raved about their new iPhone to anyone who would listen? People don’t share this information because they benefit financially – they do it, and you do it, because you sincerely love the product.
We call these people evangelists – they spread the gospel about brands they love. Do you have evangelists for your product or service – people who talk about it because they love what you do? Do your customers think that what you offer is so good, unique, and beneficial that they will naturally tell the people they know about it and encourage them to try it? Image source: http://slog.thestranger.com/2008/08/be_reborn_in_the_waters_of_the_mighty_am
Just as we verbally share information with friends and family about the products and services we use, we also now do that online. The opportunity for companies and marketers is that you can tap into that online stream of consciousness. It’s almost like you’re standing behind the person, listening in on their conversation.
Maybe you don’t have evangelists yet. Or maybe you do and just don’t realize it and thus are missing out on the opportunity to tap into them. This is where the idea of social influence comes in. I’m going to share with you some ways you can find who your influencers are and help them influence others.
Facebook has become as important to consumers as search engines have been when looking for information about a company. Not only do we want to read others’ opinions, but we also want to see if the company interacts with their customers – are they responsive and engaged?
As of April 2010, one in every 4 and a half minutes people spent online was on social-media related sites. 6 hours, the most of any other site, was on Facebook (1). Another recent study of women in their 20s found that a surprising number of them spent up to 5 hours a DAY on Facebook doing what the researchers call “social browsing” (2). (1) Nielsen Research - http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/global/social-media-accounts-for-22-percent-of-time-online/ (2) http://www.fastcompany.com/1700619/why-facebook-browsing-annihilates-web-browsing
Where the eyeballs are, companies will follow. As you can see in the chart, Facebook's share of the display advertising market has that exponential &quot;hockey-stick&quot; growth, which should be scaring Yahoo, AOL, Bing, and even Google. Facebook ads can be targeted based on users’ interests – what’s In their profiles – making it more efficient for you to advertise to those most interested in your product.
And what’s unique about Facebook is that it’s making advertising social too. Users see on their news feed which of their friends have liked a fan page, which lends credibility to the brand and makes them more likely to take action on the ad. People like to find commonalities with others and knowing which pages someone likes increases familiarity and thus brand exposure.
Before you start finding influencers, you need to know what makes a good influencer. The first is credibility - expertise in a certain area. This applies to both your company as an influencer as well as to your customers who you want to seek as influencers. Look to see who is answering people’s questions and solving their problems.
The second criteria for a good influencer is bandwidth – the person’s ability to transmit their knowledge through a channel. Some influencers may be more present on one channel, such as Twitter, versus another, like Facebook, so you need to know which channels are the most effective for that influencer. Likewise, as a company, select the channels that make the most sense for you.
One way to find your influencers is to use a tool like SocialMention.com, which monitors more than 80 sites, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs. SocialMention tells you the strength, sentiment, passion, and reach of your brand – how often is your brand discussed, is it positive or negative, and what’s the likelihood that people talking about your brand will do so repeatedly.
Other tools you can use that apply specifically to Twitter are TweetDeck and Twitter Search. The beauty of Twitter is that it’s a real-time search engine that will inform you at the very instant when someone anywhere in the world is thinking about your product or industry. But, don’t just be passive on Twitter. Answer people’s questions and help promote your influencers by sharing their content.
You can also ask questions of your current customers to find your influencers. For example, on Kashi’s online community, they ask new users how many people they tell when they find a new product they love and how often do people come to them to get advice. Based on these answers, Kashi can promote the user in the community, reward them with coupons and encourage them to tell their friends.
Once we find our influencers, we must remember that it’s targets – new customers – that we ultimately want to get. The target’s likelihood to be influenced by someone depends on 4 factors: relevance – the right information; timing – the right moment; alignment – the right place (a particular channel); and confidence – the right person. Source: http://lithosphere.lithium.com/t5/Building-Community-the-Platform/The-6-Factors-of-Social-Media-Influence-Influence-Analytics-1/ba-p/5708
Just as important as knowing the demographics and buying habits of your customers is understanding what types of customers and targets you have – how active are they online and what do they mostly do. Forrester Research has a great tool where you can select an age range, country, and gender and see whether your target audience consists of Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators, or Inactives.
The Real Women of Philadelphia site is a great example of a brand – Philadelphia Cream Cheese – embracing their customer evangelists and giving them an online space and even using video tutorials to show them how to use social media to share their recipes. They also promote their influencers by making them hosts on the site.
To get your customers to influence others, you first must have a product or service that resonates with your customers – one that is so good at filling a need and solving their problems that they’ll naturally want to tell others about it. That’s Social Influence Squared. Thank you for your time!