The first question that professionals and businesses (of all sizes) must ask themselves is not whether they should adopt the use of social media, but how to differentiate their brand for products and services. In 2012, the first challenge is to learn how to manage their presence on social networks to reach their customers while differentiating themselves to enhance their brand.
To stand out, they should position themselves in their respective industries by becoming influencers via social media. Thereafter, they should have and retain a commitment from their target audience (i.e., subscribers or followers) to stay with their brand. To achieve this, companies will often rely on input from external collaborators to guide them.
Here are four basic steps to take in becoming an influencer on the social web within a sector.
Step 1 – Stand out from the competition by the quality of shared content
To meet the new expectations of customers massively migrating to social networks, professionals, companies and organizations need to offer a unique and rewarding experience for users (i.e., value they will not find anywhere else). Influencers must be creative and reinvent themselves by offering interesting and relevant content regarding their industry.
On social networks, personalized relationships with users are also often confused with brand identity by professionals (i.e., community manager) or the CEO, who is online. The first challenge for brands is to develop a niche on social media where they will provide a gateway that subscribers (or followers) choose to follow the news pertinent to their industry.
To stand out among the competition on the web, they must focus on quality and relevance of their content. Through their presence on social media, they should offer new content, avoid repeating “too often circulated information” and still ensure that it remains relevant to its audience. Web professionals who want to succeed in social media must see themselves as broadcasters. At this level, the contribution of external collaborators, such as copywriters and content curators may be necessary to complete the team. (Please read: L’influence dans les médias sociaux, une tendance lourde…, on Locita in French)
Step 2 – Position influencers within the sector
According to recent studies, only a little over 1% of users of social media (influencers) produce original content of interest, which will be relayed and shared by 9% of subscribers (followers). The other 90% are spectators and observers (subscribers or followers) which will simply view the content without commenting or sharing.
At the same time, these influencers (i.e., professionals and companies) that publish new content regularly get 55% more visits than the others (Source: Hubspot Blog). There is a considerable advantage to produce and distribute new content if companies want to attract attention and to position themselves as an influencer within a sector.
The second challenge is to recognize and identify the leaders across different social networks and engage with them in a conversation and mutual exchange in order to gain their trust and possibly their collaboration. If they succeed, they will then relay content in their own network.
At this stage, a strategist in social media optimization (SMO) is often the key to success for a company or organization that wishes to position itself amongst the web influencers in an industry. (Please read, “How To Identify Social Media Influencers? “(Part 1 and Part 2)
Step 3 – Choose the metrics, measuring tools and adjust them according
In a social media campaign, web professionals should be able to measure their effectiveness and impact they cause to ensure continuously meet the expectations of their audience. Similar to program managers for television and radio and publishers of printed media, social media professionals should be able to evaluate and estimate the success rate and the true reach of their campaign.
They will select the measurement tools of influence already online and determine which tools can best match their goals. In recent years, there has been an emergence of web applications with content management, measurement tools of engagement and influence on social media. These new applications have quickly become popular with the professionals that would like to better manage their web presence through the various social networks. Currently, users can access more than thirty different platforms and tools (see “Finding 30 Free Tools for Social Media Influencers” by Jo Stratmann on FreshNetworks).
Step 4 – Building and retaining user engagement
The success of a social media campaign will be based first and foremost on the concrete commitment of the users in building a network. At each step, influencers must therefore seek to establish real contact with its subscribers (or followers). Develop a personal relationship with the user and keep the conversation and exchange with customers as partners and influencers going.
Self-employed workers, such as small business owners and the head of large organizations, will have to learn to socialize more if they wish to be seen as influencers in their sector. After building a solid presence on social networks and having been placed among the influencers in their industries, professionals must continually generate and retain the commitment of their users.
To ensure the commitment, according to Thomas Power, the ORS Approach (Open, Random and Supportive) could be the key to success on social media. Power states that individuals should:
- Remain continually open to new ideas and new people in a network
- Be receptive and accepting applications random connections by building on the discoveries
- Show solidarity by supporting the personal approach of the members of its network without expectation of return
(For more on Social Media – Open, Random, Supportive, please read, Mick Say on Online Marketing Academy).
And then after?
Obviously, the success of a professional, businesses or organizations does not depend exclusively on their success on social media. To obtain their business and career goals and business, their influence will also extend to their immediate surroundings in real life. To remain in the privileged circle of leaders in their sector, they must continually earn that status.
The real impact will be measured or validated, through speaking opportunities (i.e., conferences, panels or roundtable discussions) and through their in the media, for the notoriety that they reap for their accomplishments or articles / books that they publish. (Please read, “How to Become a Thought Leader in Six Steps” by Dorie Clark in the Harvard Business Review)
In 2012, the social web will definitely play an increasingly important in all areas of professional activities. The question of social media influence will become a major issue for all web professionals.
Want To Know More?
Please read our past posts:
- How To Identify Social Media Influencers? (Part 2)
- How To Identify Social Media Influencers? (Part 1)
- The Meaning of Social Media Influence
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About The Author:
Author of the books, “Culture Web à la portée des PME” and “Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0” Raymond Morin has written for several magazines over the past 10 years. Very active on social media, he has contributed to several online publications as guest blogger, including Trinity College School, Locita, and Intelegia. Raymond is a corporate trainer and is regularly invited to give lectures and training workshops to companies and organizations. In collaboration with Intelegia, and Ian Smith, Raymond is preparing for the release of a new book, “Comment devenir un influenceur dans les médias sociaux”