How to Influence your Audience using Social Media
Social Media Influence
The discovery of the internet has opened countless doors for communication and connectivity. Since its fruition, people and businesses alike are using it as an opportunity to reach out to others and spread ideas like never before. Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have allowed businesses to communicate and interact with customers in a way that was once unthinkable. With no sign of slowing down, the increase of social media users have made meaningful interactions somewhat of a challenging art.
With so many voices and so many opinions, how can someone running a business, effectively reach out and influence their target audience? Today, it’s not as simple as just writing material and hoping the right person stumbles across it. Influence requires nurturing and being able to think like your target audience. It may take time and effort, but it will make you stand out above your competition and give your brand invaluable influence.
The challenge in social media marketing is being able to resonate your idea and win the trust of your industry among billions of voices within the ever-growing internet. Ric Dragon’s book Social Marketology, touches on a myriad of concepts that can be valuable to anyone looking to make an impact on social marketing.
Listed below are six methods derived from his book that every business should consider using, to become an influential powerhouse in their industry.
It is human nature to conform. When a number of people are looking in a direction or expressing public opinions, people tend to conform to what those other people are doing, even if it’s something they don’t want to do. We see this a lot with trending issues or hot topics. When a lot of people talk about something on twitter, it attracts others to the conversation. You can leverage these situations to create content on how the topic falls in line with your company beliefs and values. This will attract people in your target audience that may want to comment on or re-tweet your content.
The more meaningful re-tweets and comments you receive on your posts, the more people will naturally conform to read your content over that of your competition. This is known as social proof, or herd mentality. As Ric Dragon says, “When there is significant social proof, it can help drive conformity, which in turn drives even more [social proof]. This results in a ‘rich get richer’ effect enjoyed by popular social accounts.”
A position of authority ensures a sense of trust in your audience. Linking to relevant white papers, webinars or other authority figures can transform your brand as a source with legitimate content. Use these sources to draw concrete data to support your thoughts and ideas. Make a commitment to research everything about your industry. Knowledge is power and people will follow you for it.
A perfect example of social authority figures are opinion leaders. Every group has one, it may even be you. “Opinion leaders are individuals whose opinions are highly regarded.” These influencers, a huge focus for big media groups, are approached using the two-step approach.
1. Big media reach out to opinion leaders.
2. Opinion leaders influence their social group.
Marketers including Ric Dragon believe that, “in order for a brand to make a big impact, they must engage a major influencer.” The challenge is finding the influencer that is right for you, and that are clearly reaching your target audience. A great site to look for influencers is Influential.co (a catalog of social influencer on platforms like Instagram, vine and others).
Gifting is a concept many should be familiar with and is a psychological tactic that can be used by anyone in several situations. Giving gifts in marketing can be a powerful influencer that can often lead to reciprocation. In social media marketing the gift you are usually providing the reader is a wealth of credible, valuable content. If the content you give them is benefiting them, the reciprocation you’re likely to receive are shares and re-tweets of your content, which in turn give your content and brand more exposure.
One must be careful when exercising gift giving. It is not uncommon to believe you’re entitled to reciprocation, especially on social media. “Don’t let your generosity intertwine with your marketing because it will backfire.” In other words, don’t make your attempts at gift giving look like desperate calls for reciprocation. This is a relationship-building method and you need to make your gift feel sincere and meaningful. Only then will people feel the desire to give back.
“People give preferential treatment to people in their own group, even if the group’s formation is somewhat arbitrary.” This psychological phenomena is known as in-group bias. You see this come up a lot, especially in the music industry. These are commonly referred to as fan armies. Justin Bieber has his Beliebers, Taylor Swift has her Swifties, and Rihanna has her Rihanna Navy. These three are only a few examples of countless groups that fans of these artists relentlessly dedicate their devotion to. This is part of their social identity.
Giving your customers a sense of community can be extremely influential and will make them feel like more than just a customer. Ric Dragon suggests instead of a mailing list, ask your customer to join your community. This method will make them feel more important and can encourage them to choose you over a competitor. It is also stressed in his book to avoid an ‘us-and-them’ mentality with your customers and treat them like they are in the same group as you.
Ric Dragon talks about three primary dimensions to credibility according to Robert Gass and John Seiter:
Expertise – Share and give advice – good advice. People are more likely to follow someone who knows the subject inside-and-out and has done their research. So learn! Learn! Learn! Become proficient in your industry and answer the questions that need to be answered so that people will instantly come to you for a solution.
Trustworthiness – Honestly and transparency are invaluable traits that every company should be practicing. Don’t keep secrets from your customers and let them know exactly what they’re getting into when they come to you. Ric Dragon heeds that, “Trustworthiness should be simple, although in some industries it can be challenging, not because the people in the industry are less trustworthy, but they have to be more careful about how they say things. Pharma and investment banking are good examples.” Empathize with your audience and pick the best message to be transparent and maintain trust.
Goodwill – Having a healthy brand image and a great reputation with the public can raise your good will. Remember to be friendly and helpful when communicating with your audience. Good attitude and an excellent product will go a long way and can even drive profits by valuing your product over the market value.
If you’re having trouble with the process of increasing your influence, try to confide in other influencers in your industry to help. Earlier in the article, Influential.co was brought up. This site provides a resourceful tool that locates the biggest influential figures in several social platforms. Many of these influencers see the world from perspectives that can be very difficult for someone committed to a business to understand. Influencers range from teens, to comedians, to moms and more niche groups that can deliver a more meaningful message to your target audience.
However, all this can be done on your own, by reaching out to influencers using platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Follow them, re-blog content you agree with, if they notice a brand consistently contributing to their content, they may reciprocate. Going back to the concept of giving, giving is a two-way street. Building relationships with these influencers can be extremely beneficial. You can even learn a thing or two from them as well.
Special to Hudson Valley Public Relations by Dan Agudelo freelance wordsmith —
To learn more about how to identify influencers or social media marketing visit our website at http://www.hudsonvalleymedia.com or give us a call 845.202.7087.
Dragon, Ric. “Chapter 8: Chasing the Whales.” Social Marketology: Improve Your Social Media Processes and Get Customers to Stay Forever. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. N. pag. Print.