“This is your captain speaking. We are currently cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet. Weather in Arizona is looking mild as we …”
As I read those words flying back from attending an event for the Boston Chapter of ALA a few months ago, I considered the words I had just read: “… to influence human behavior … inspire it.”
I’m a filmmaker and digital marketer. I live and breathe storytelling and the online marketing world. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that Sinek’s views on great leadership inevitably led me to not only connect his shared wisdom (influence through inspiration) with marketing, but to also consider how one might implement such a strategy to increase client loyalty and gain new customers. As I thought on the concept, the answer practically hit me in the face: Influencer marketing.
WHAT IS INFLUENCER MARKETING?
In his book The Rising Importance of Influencer Marketing ― Statistics and Trends, Ifran Ahmad discusses how influencer marketing is a promotion strategy that embraces collaboration between a company’s brand and an influencer, or thought leader.
Traditionally, influencers have been thought of as celebrities, but in today’s digital world, you don’t need to be a movie star to be an influencer. Social media has given rise to the online influencer, an individual who, by providing consistent, quality content, has gathered a community of engaged followers. Connecting your brand with one of these online influencers allows you to get your message in front of an already captive audience. So captive, in fact, that 94% of marketers have said this type of online marketing is effective. It can deliver up to 11 times the return on investment as traditional marketing campaigns like billboards and commercials.
I know what you are thinking: “Does that mean I need to reach out to the local YouTube and Instagram stars to promote the branding of my firm?” The answer is yes and no. Who you approach depends on the story or the why you want to convey to your online community. The key is to build a relationship with an influencer whose followers include the people with whom you want to share your message.
For example, if your firm focuses on family law, then connecting with influencers like Casey and Meygan Caston, whose @Marriage365 account has over 250,000 followers on Instagram, could be beneficial. Just think — if @Marriage365 were to mention the exceptional service rendered by an attorney at your firm in a post or video, over 250,000 people could be exposed to your branding, your firm.
Think of the possibilities, think of the contacts you already have, and ask yourself, “Is anyone actively speaking out on social media on my behalf?” If the answer is no, consider your options — including how you could set your firm up to become a thought leader.
BECOMING AN EFFECTIVE INFLUENCER: TRUST AND AUTHENTICITY
Each of us (think of the many individuals within your firm or company) has a special way of looking at life because of our personal knowledge and experiences. When we take the time to share our individually gained expertise with others to help them find answers to issues they are currently facing, we help build trust. Here, I mean trust with no expectations. By sharing your knowledge and experiences freely online, you first and foremost need to come with the mindset that you may not get anything in return. That is where true trust is found, in my experience.
Trust is just one part of the effective influencer formula, though. You cannot expect to be an effective influencer without authenticity. At the end of the day, you could be the top expert in your area of practice or business, but if you share your knowledge with the mindset that it will lead to more business, referral or sales first and share it without providing your audience the ability to genuinely connect with your story, your message will most likely fall flat. Think about some of the influencers within ALA: Board members, chapter leaders, committee chairs, business partners and your peers. Ask yourself, why is it that when these individuals speak or teach us about trends in their areas and industries, we listen, feel inspired and want to engage in furthering the conversation?
When we take the time to share our individually gained expertise with others to help them find answers to issues they are currently facing, we help build trust.
Authenticity breeds interest and engagement. Couple authenticity with the previously mentioned importance of building trust, and you have a formula that consistently produces positive results over time, every time.
In the world we now live, people are consuming content online at an increasing rate. It is a great time to start your own journey of becoming an influencer within your online community. To build that trust and authenticity, you can start with these easy steps:
1. Determine your focus.
2. Create and post relevant content.
3. Be regular and consistent.
4. Engage with your audience.
Last, but most importantly, be you! You have a unique way of life and talents that are yours; you have the power to create and build your own community. The best way to become an influencer is you just being you. As you build your digital community, with time, you will come to see that you too can influence human behavior and inspire it.