Claire Dunford: Influencer Engagement is All About People

Influencer Engagement is All About People

When we’re devising strategies for our clients at BOTTLE we often talk about ‘influencers’ and ‘thought leaders’. The power of social media comes from the power of people talking to each other and the influence of those relationships. Understanding the role that influencers have is key.

Influence isn’t something that can be counted simply by the number of follower numbers an individual account has. Who your influencers are depends very much on who you ultimately want to reach – it could be a journalist, a politician, a celebrity, or it could just as easily be a friend or family member. But the reason you want to reach these thought leaders, is to get their advocacy.

Whilst it is more than possible to amplify and spread messages from a corporate profile, social media success boils down to being social: taking part in and influencing conversations. That’s a completely different kettle of fish to the number of fans a profile may or may not have.

For me, digital engagement and social communication is all about people being social, which can be a mountain to climb if you decide to hide behind an anonymous profile. I’m not saying that those anonymous profiles can’t be successful (believe me there are a number that are) but they have a much harder slog than those transparent profiles that use their own names to form online communities.

And this doesn’t just relate to personal profiles; in an ideal world I think that corporate profiles should inject some personality into their tweets. While I’m in no way suggesting that it’s appropriate for all corporate profiles to be cracking jokes, simple strategies to include personal markers such as including the author’s initials at the end of each update, go a long way to reducing the quazi-antisocial wall that a corporate persona could be presenting.

I’ve heard accusations that Twitter, in particular, can never be any good for “serious business” because it is too random. But Twitter represents a fantastic opportunity for companies to reach out to influencers – the key is to remember not to be too stuffy. Being personable on social media isn’t about being frivolous; it’s about being natural and conversing in a way that is engaging. And that might mean that it’s not always strictly ‘on message’. If a company sticks to linear messaging on social media, then they’re unlikely to drive consumer engagement, as other profiles leave them behind.

Social media strategies should always have conversation at their heart – if you’re not conversing how do you know that what you’re saying is what people want to hear. If companies stick to a broadcast strategy, forget becoming an influencer, they may quickly find out that they are shouting into a vacuum. Think about it this way: would you prefer to speak to a person, or a pre-programmed automated service?

Originally published 09 July 2012 on Claire Dunford is Social Media Executive at BOTTLE and can be followed on Twitter @rainbowclaire.