Marketwired Blog

Who Are Influencers and Why Do They Matter?

Who Are Influencers and Why Do They Matter?

[By Kait Fowlie]

The 2015 Tomoson Influencer Marketing Study confirmed that influencer marketing is hot. And ongoing research results along with day-to-day PR practices industry-wide prove it’s not just a fad.

Those who have been focused on leveraging their relationships with influencers have been earning $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. For PR professionals, this development marks a significant change. To make the most of their day-to-day communications now, PR professionals must shift the way they work.

If connecting with, reaching out to, and engaging influencers isn’t a central component in your communication strategy, you’re missing out.

To get started leveraging the power of influencers, find out what to look for in order to identify them, and get clear on your goals for connecting with them.

What is an Influencer? Identifying Qualities that Drive Action.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” explores the concept of “connectors” – people who have a specific gift for “bringing the world together” and “an intrinsic and natural gift for making social connections.” These agents of change play a major role in determining social trends and phenomena, Galdwell argued.

With social media now a major part of most businesses communications strategies, your relationship with those who have the power to reach audiences – and make real connections – is a crucial part of getting your message heard by the right people.

An influencer isn’t just someone who has a large audience, though. Influence is also driven by expertise and credibility on subject matter and the relationship between the influencer and his or her followers.

Influencers possess the following qualities:

  • Trustworthiness. Are they trusted sources of information with original thoughts – not just retweets?
  • Thought leadership. Do they have a loyal following of readers who crave, anticipate, and engage with their content?
  • Ability to engage. Do they engage with their followers to foster their communities?
  • Impact. Do they drive action in their audiences (buy a product, choose one brand over another, etc.)?
  • Hunger. Do they lead from a position of curiosity and passion? Do they add – and seek – valuable content?

Someone who possesses all these characteristics, and also has a large reach, is a valuable influencer.

Why Do I Need Influencers? 

Whether social media is part of your existing outreach or not, your connection with and impact on influencers has a direct impact on your bottom line. More than ever, consumers trust and seek recommendations from trusted third parties; often even more than from a brand itself.

Word of mouth has always been a strong purchase driver both online and offline, but now, review and price-comparison sites like Yelp and Google Places, and social networks, are of utmost importance when it comes to purchase decisions.

And word-of-mouth influence will likely grow – it is no longer an act of intimate, one-on-one communication. Today, it also happens on a one-to-many basis. People are already talking about your brand, whether you’re part of the conversation or not.

Aligning with an influencer lets you participate and add to the conversation. Connecting with influencers not only connects you with their audiences, but also their audiences’ networks as well. Because of the loyalty of an influencer’s audience, he or she has the ability to drive quality traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure, and influence purchase decision simply by making recommendations or providing a story about his or her experiences.

Leveraging Your Influencers

Leveraging the power of influencers – like all successful marketing activities – begins with a strategy for setting about achieving your goals. To make the most of influencers, you’ll need a plan for identifying relevant influencers, reaching out to them, creating content that offers reciprocal value, and building a sustainable relationship.

Stay tuned on our blog for an upcoming 6-post guide to creating an effective strategy for leveraging influencers; it will be posted throughout the summer. Find out more about building and managing influencer relationships here.

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