“Word-of-mouth is the most effective advertising method in existence. Always has, and always will be. Amen”
If there was an official marketer’s bible, it would carry that phrase on the cover.
Word of mouth marketing is powerful. Getting a recommendation on a product, website or service is usually enough to elicit a visit or patronage.
But, as we’ve come to understand, the efficacy of word of mouth advertising depends on who owns the mouth. Customers are more receptive to recommendations from a person they respect and trust as opposed to ads or other corporate messaging.
And this is where influencers come in.
An industry influencer (say on social media) is a user who has established credibility in a specific industry. This individual has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of his authenticity and reach.
Influencers have a lot of power. And with great power comes great responsibility.
Are you sure you really want to bear the gauntlet of an influencer?
1. Create and publish superb consistently
The root word of ‘authority’ is ‘author.’ If you want to establish yourself as an influencer and an authority, you simply must write/create more.
Get your body of work out there in as many formats as possible: written (blog posts, email newsletter, social media posts), spoken (public speaking), audio (podcast, radio show), video (live and recorded), etc. Find the platforms that most resonate with you and where you can reach most of your audience and be consistent!
2. Have a focused (and useful) niche
The number of people publishing content on social networks is growing at a staggering rate. Standing out means not trying to be all things to all people.
Choose a niche and make sure you’re not picking something too broad. Stand for something specific and focus on going deep on that topic with your messaging, engagement, connections and content. Become the best answer for what you want to be influential about and stand out by being unique.
3. You need to stay topical
Staying topical is how you go viral on social media.
Always seize the (viral) moment. When something goes viral, make sure you are part of the conversation, or even better, leading the conversation on social media. If you’re not part of the moment, you cannot influence it.
4. Pick the Right Channels
Each channel has a different audience (and audience size) expecting different content. Pick the ones which are ideal for your content. For example, if you’re a photographer, Instagram is your number one platform. But Pinterest and Facebook would also deliver your content effectively. You may just need to modify your captions a bit.
You may have a favorite channel but don’t let that deter you from being objective in your choice of platforms to grow your influence. Start by focusing on at most two and grow from there.
5. Be approachable
Unlike celebrities, people expect social media influencers to be approachable. People need to be able to reach out with their questions and have a reasonable expectation for a response.
If you’re going to be an influencer on social media, you have to be prepared not only to receive many questions from your social followers but to answer them as well.
And be amiable while you answer them
6. Engage with events
Attend industry conferences to meet people, and propose your own speaking session. Don’t just aim for the large conferences, aim for the small ones as well. Especially if you’re just starting out, you have a better chance of getting a speaking session at a small conference/meetup than at a large one.
Baby steps, please.
And once you get invited, dazzle them.
7. Network a lot
Growing your network will increase the scope and reach of your opinions and content. One of the simplest and easiest ways to build audiences of engaged users is to constantly talk to your contacts and provide value to them.
Secondly, everyone wants to sit at home on their couch and connect with influencers on social media. But you know how to give yourself the advantage? Get off the couch, get out the house, and get to major events related to your niche to meet them.
8. Play the long game
Be patient! You could buy followers and try to artificially boost your Klout score using underhanded methods, but it will backfire eventually.
The best way is to slowly grow your social media community over time and build your content hub (whether that is a YouTube channel or a blog).
9. Create a website or blog
Conversations don’t end on social media. You’ll always have more to say than can fit in a tweet or Instagram post.
With a website or blog, you have a place to direct your social followers as you gain them. And you’ll be able to unleash your rants in longer form.
And it goes without saying the longer blog content needs to provide even more value than a social post to get clicks.
10. Work hard
Becoming an influencer is not a walk in the park. It takes a lot of hard work to break through the noise of social media and grow an engaged following.
For one, you have to be consistent with your posts both in quality and quantity. That means brainstorming, planning, writing, interviewing, designing etc and every other thing that goes into creating content your audience will appreciate. If you’re not ready to do the work, it might be a tad bit difficult to ascend the holy grail of being an influencer.
11. Respond to comments
If you’re going to be an influencer, you have to be ready to visit your comment section often.
As you gain authority, your followers will want to engage with you frequently, asking questions and commenting on things. When responding, be sure to stay consistent and friendly.
Don’t respond to trolls, unless you have a great zinger that will help your brand image.
12. Engage with the community
It’s not enough to simply respond to comments. To become an influencer, you need to start conversations. The more you engage with the community outside of your feed, the further you spread your influence.
Don’t just respond to comments on your Facebook page. Post in groups, post on friend’s pages, and tag other influencers to engage the community.
Don’t be afraid to start a Facebook or WhatsApp group of your own to draw in even more followers.
13. Listen to criticism
Being a creator of any kind or in the public eye for any reason involves handling a lot of criticism.
Nobody who gets into the public eye can escape criticism of some kind. Even the richest man in the world can’t avoid criticism.
We also need criticism. Yet so few of us can handle it.
If you become a person who can actually handle constructive criticism, critics will mold you into a more polished influencer. Being an influencer isn’t about dictating what people do. It’s about creating a movement, and constructive criticism is essential to that.
14. Follow influencers and give shout outs
To be an influencer, you need to know other influencers. Who you’re following is almost as important as who follows you.
To expand your influence, you need to show people they’re influencing you as well. On Twitter, there’s a hashtag group called #Teamfollowback that believes in reciprocating every follow.
You don’t have to go that far, but do try to follow other influencers to engage their audiences along with yours. Many influencers also love giving shout outs to followers, fans, and subscribers.
Shout outs make people feel like they’re personally contributing to the community. They incentivize participation.
Everyone starts at square one with no followers with nobody knowing who they are. It’s the steps you take to build a following that ultimately determines how influential you are. We hope these strategies help.
Feature image via Touchcore
Stop with the what-if's!
Get this comprehensive checklist to run
through before launching your website!
Since websites differ, we decided to write a checklist
that you could use for all kinds of websites. You're welcome!