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Marketing to an influencer is one of the latest marketing trends. You need to reach a bunch of people in a certain demographic or interest group, so you go out and identify somebody that this particular group listens to. You’ll then somehow reach out to this influencer and try to get him or her to share whatever it is that you are selling with the group of people that listen to him or her.
If this exchange is mutually beneficial for all involved, there might not be anything wrong with this relationship transaction at all. But focusing all of your energy on only the people who appear to be influencers is not authentic and too narrow of a focus.
You might decide that some people are influencers because they have 100,000 followers on Twitter. Did you know that some people buy followers? There’s a chance that somebody with that many followers potentially, maybe has bought some cheap followers from India or another country that has nothing to do with your target audience.
Don’t get me wrong here. There are people who actually have that many followers and they are interested in what that person has to say. And they all followed voluntarily. For free.
There are ways to analyze somebody’s followers and see if they might be your target audience. That’s a strategy that could be followed, sure.
And it’s OK to connect with them, but it’s also OK to connect with others who might be interested in what you have to say and who only have 23 followers on Twitter. Because offline they likely influence many others. That’s something we can’t see from their Twitter numbers.
How many people do they influence offline?
How vocal are they? They might be very loud about the products they love and the products they hate. And tell all of their friends about them and even get their friends to continue spreading the same message. You see where this is going, right?
Ultimately, everyone is an influencer to somebody. I influence my wife’s decisions and she influences mine and others. She’s isn’t even on Twitter, so you can’t get to her on there, but you can reach her through me. But that’s not necessarily as visible online as finding somebody with 100,000 followers is.
What’s the answer to all this?
I think it’s a mix. Yes, it’s quite OK and necessary to identify and reach out to our target audiences, wherever they might be.
It’s also important to get the organizational story straight. It’s no longer about shaping messages, but it’s about living stories. Step 1 is that everyone lives the same story.
- This is our organization’s story. Here’s why we exist (besides making money) and here’s how we can help you (the members of the audience).
- And then sharing that story in a mutually beneficial way for the audience and the organization.
It can be useful to analyze delivery mechanism and help us reach more people when the right channels are identified. But similarly to people constantly trying to manipulate search engine results in a way that’s not authentic (aka black hat SEO) analyzing things goes only so far and can be time consuming.
Spend at least as much time – or more – on actually creating valuable content that your target audiences might be interested in. Or better, yet, create content that helps them solve a problem and is a topic that aligns with your business.
Sharing authentic solutions to problems establishes the author as an expert and potentially thought leader. Eventually readers might decide to become customers.
Those readers, by the way, even if we don’t know their names (yet) are likely influencers somewhere of somebody. If they consume our content, they likely have an opinion about us and might share it.