Lately, I am seeing and reading a lot about the role of influencers and their “Influence” in our digital world or social media.
According to the Business Dictionary, the definition of an Influencer is “:
Individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others, because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship. In consumer spending, members of a peer group or reference group act as influencers. In business to business (organizational) buying, internal employees (engineers, managers, purchasers) or external consultants act as influencers.
This is a definition that can be easily misinterpreted. After all, what exactly does it mean to be an influencer in today’s online world? Many people think that being a good influencer means :
● Lots of followers.
● A verified social media account, even though an optimized account with no interaction does not fit the influencer definition.
● Working with brands/companies. This alone does not automatically make someone an influencer.
● Being a good speaker – of course there are great speakers – . Many online profiles post the same speech or interview to promote themselves rather than having unique, valuable content to present their audience.
An influencer is a person who helps you grow and improve professionally every day as well as personally.
I asked an influencer and Founder and Chief Catalyst at Business Innovation Factory, Saul Kaplan if he could share in his own words what exactly he thinks it means to be a good influencer in social media and business.
Do you agree? I do, when it comes to being an influencer, a person must not only have followers, but also prompt those followers to take action either directly or indirectly.
In addition to their background and knowledge, there are qualities to consider when looking for an influencer. Consider if they are:
1. Grateful and humble;
2. Strong values and principles;
4. Interactive with their audience;
6. Continually teaching;
7. Team work-oriented online;
8. Supportive of people who support them as well;
9. Enthusiastic to help;
10. Receptive of feedback (positive or not); and
11. ______________ (Add your own qualification here).
Think about this:
“Gurus don’t exist. What exists are smart people who want to help you, that’s it.” ~ JC Giraldo.
How Identify a Real Influencer ?
I try not to interact with people who follow just for a follow back on social media. I find the most value in other influencers that have an important message to share. A lot of followers mean nothing, if the quality is not there. My rule is quality before quantity. Tell me your rule please : ___________
What factors do you consider when connecting with people or following them online?
Some factors that can help you identify a credible influencer would be someone who is an expertise in their industry and who conveys a positive attitude online. Before you consider someone an influencer, do research. Read articles that mention the influencer, watch their videos, buy their books, and learn about their online (and offline) image to help you decide if the person is credible.
Languages : Anyone can be an influencer, but to me it’s important that an Influencer, where English is not their language of origin, speak, read, and write in this language, because English is world language, always two or more languages is a plus, probably not a rule, but is a plus to considerate. ( personal opinion ).
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to an influencer and ask them questions or comment on something they’ve posted online and see how they interact. One of the most important things that you should get from a real influencer is the opportunity to learn from them on a continuous basis.
Layers of Influencers
One of my top influencers, my dear colleague and friend Natascha Thomson, said to me in an email about this topic : “JC, there are layers” and I tottally agree with her, because, all of us have sort of influence on different people and different topics, like a chain reaction.
I think the layers of influence can work either horizontally or vertically. For example, if we talk about what kind the content we are sharing and receive a post from one of our influencers (vertical), we might immediately think how the information could help by spreading the word to our own network (horizontal). What do you think?
Ok, this article focuses only on Influencers. However, the terms influencers and advocate have similarities, and I want take a time to explain a little bit about that.
Difference between Influencers and Advocates
An Influencer is someone who actively shares their opinions and expertise through their (large) personal and professional networks. An influencer is someone that can cause an effect without apparent exertion or force. Most common examples include analysts and media.
An Advocate is someone who proactively defends, promotes and participates in the public conversation for a particular brand, product, service or cause. An advocate is someone that has positive affinity toward and stands behind a brand, product or cause.
This is interesting because these are two different concepts that are sometimes used in similar ways.
Tips on how to act with your influencers:
● Respect them and they will respect you as well;
● Find the right moment to ask them a question or post a comment;
● Don’t overwhelm them;
● Be smart with your questions;
● Use common sense;
● Be friendly; and
● Be yourself.
I want to leave you with this final thought from one of my collleagues and influencers Randy Milanovic. He says :
My definition of Influencer includes family, colleagues and really, anyone who makes us think. These are the ones that matter.
I want to share with you a list of some of my influencers and the topics where they have influenced me:
Brian Solis – Social Business
Dorie Clark – Networking
Natascha Thomson – B2B
Ted Rubin – Evangelist / Advocacy
Petra Neiger – Health / Wellness
Randy Milanovic – Inbound Marketing
Sarah Santacroce – Small Business
Kyle Lacy – Marketing
Saul Kaplan – Business Innovation
Greg Cooper – LinkedIn
Marney Reid – Entrepreneurship