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Friday, October 12, 2012

Everyone tells you to find your online influencers, but what is an influencer?

These days most social media professionals will tell you to seek out influencers and focus social efforts on these key influencers. But what is an influencer? And how do you find these people on the social web?

An influencer is an individual (who may or may not be a consumer of a brand) that is able to sway the opinions of others because they are highly recognized and respected within their community. If you listen to some of the 'social media gurus' out there, you would be convinced these influencers are mythical creatures that only a lofty budget and an expert could procure for your brand. But that is simply not the case.

Now do not get me wrong, I cannot stress enough how important influencers are in social communities. I also cannot stress enough how invaluable these influencers can be for your brand. So how do you find them? Simple, join the community.

Before seeking out influencers or hoping to search and discover the influencers within an online community, join that community...and actually participate. Join the community and spend some time just listening. Listen to what the community is talking about and get a feel for their thoughts and opinions, then join them. Add your brands thoughts and opinions, reply to their thoughts, let the community know you are listening and you value their ideas. All the while, keep an eye out for the influencers.

These are not the loudest nor the most vocal members of the community, they are the members that respond thoughtfully and tactfully...they are the members that can post and get a wealth or responses or comment on another post and close a lively discussion. You will see the respect other members have for these influencers and you will watch others be swayed by their opinions. Once you notice this, you have found your influencer (and you can reach out to them offline to connect and turn them into greater brand ambassadors).

So how do you find your influencers? Join them...join their communities and participate as an active member. The influencers will surface as you interact.


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