The word “influence” as defined by the Oxford dictionary is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself. Social media influencing is using that capacity to affect the character, development or behaviours of people through the use of social media. Social media influencing is all about thought leadership. Principally, for your marketing efforts to pay off in business, you must be able to convince people’s minds to buy your products or services.
What Is Social Media Influencing All About?
The working principle is basically to first of all identify an influencer. In the majority of cases, if not all, it has to be someone who commands a huge following on social media. The crux will be to then leverage on that individual & their popularity to increase your brand awareness & drive sales. Ideally, the influencer will pitch your product to their huge network of online communities with the aim of yielding sales.
Which Social Media Platforms to Use?
Any social media platform can be used; it all depends on how creative you are. However, globally, Instagram, according to many reviews & analyses, is the leading social media influencing platform. This is apparent from, among others, the fact that most influential social figures have accounts on Instagram.
So Why Are Social Media Influencers Important?
Their influence (or perceived influence) is premised on the influencer’s capacity & ability to use their leading voice to make people think and do certain things. People have a natural tendency to want to superficially appear closely associated with a popular personality by doing, following or conforming to what that person says, recommends or endorses. It’s all an issue of trust having been built between this personality and many people. That person essentially becomes like a role model such that whatever they say is regarded as valid, genuine & worth adhering to. All things being equal, social media influencing can become so effective to a point where you can’t even tell the influencer apart from the brand they are promoting. A lot of global surveys in 2018 even showed that prospective consumers now have a higher preference for buying things promoted by social media influencers as opposed to things just advertised on their own.
Who to Consider to Become Social Media Influencers for Your Business?
It’s not necessarily always people who are celebrities; for what it’s worth actual celebrities can be quite expensive to bring on board. There is also what is known as micro-influencers; these are people with relatively low (but significant social media followerships e.g 5000 to 10000 followers). These can be very effective because they tend to be characterized by a group of homogenous followers who have intimate & high levels of engagement with their micro-influencer. Categories of people to choose social media influencers from can, among others, be:
- Individuals with huge numbers of social media followers
- Experts (or respected voices) in their respective fields
- Radio & TV personalities etc…
Some Important Things to Consider
When choosing a social media influencer take a thorough look at what that individual’s values, beliefs, interests, passions etc are. There must be shared experiences between the influencer and what your brand represents across all these aspects to avoid conflict. Remember the influencer is, in principle, a brand too so there must be coherence.
The hallmark of an appropriate choice of social media influencer lies in them satisfying three particular aspects. Firstly, they must be relevant to your business case (i.e. they must be people who can be given attention when they engage people). They obviously must command a huge reach (which is your target market). Thirdly, they must have a strong rapport with their followers such that they can persuade them to take actions that lead to conversions (sales).
Be objective about the followership aspect. The key word is engagement; you effectively measure someone’s social media influence by how many people engage with them by actually responding to posts. A person with 100000 Instagram followers but getting on average 20 comments on their posts is not a wise choice for a social media influencer.
N.B. Before doing any campaigns, ensure the terms & conditions are clear to you and the influencer. Document & sign your agreements by the help of legal professionals.
Some Ideas Or Concepts
You can get the influencer to do posts or videos (pre-recorded or live), where they will be promoting your goods or services. You can even arrange interviews where the influencer will be asking you about your brand.
The influencer gets to post paid-for posts that advertise your brand. These posts have an advantage of having a far wider reach of people that get to see them.
The influencer gets do reviews of your goods or services in the form of generic posts or even short video clips. Or the influencer can host practical live video demonstrative sessions doing such reviews.
Here the influencer hosts competitions on their platform where people stand to win products or services your business offers.
An agreement is made where the influencer wears or uses your product or service every time they are out and about or is in social places where many people converge.
The payment of the influencer is solely up to what you can discuss and agree upon. Some examples are monetary payment, them getting all your goods or services free or paying them with some stocks in your business.
Social media influencing is steadily picking up momentum in Zimbabwe. As much as it’s all about promoting other business brands, it in itself is a business concept on its own. In other countries, some people have now built businesses around identifying, connecting & managing interactions between the influencers & businesses (something like brokerage). Therefore, think far & wide, be creative!