If you want your message to be heard and understood by the right people, it is critical to build your status as a digital influencer. These are the people who connect huge groups of people and create trends. This is something akin to what, according to Malcolm Gladwell in “The Tipping Point,” “connectors” do; they bring people together using their innate gift of making social connections.
The research shows that, as a rule, influencers do three main things: have a notable “echo,” use powerful exposition, and achieve a major “share of voice.” This is my take on those three core points and the different tactics you can take to achieve all three of them.
Be great at digital marketing
When we say that digital influencers have an effective “echo,” we mean that they are able to influence opinions and mobilize reactions. We mean that they are great at digital marketing. Here are the key aspects of great digital marketing as seen in the work of influencers.
Ability to engage. Influencers engage with their followers actively, and thus foster their communities. This kind of active engagement is critical to great digital marketing.
Actionability. Influencers provide actionable advice, techniques, products or services. They can prompt action because, like all great marketers, they target the right people who are aligned with their brand and have a serious reach.
Adaptation. They say that intuitive improvisation is the essence of genius, and Influencers adapt to the rapid evolution of their industries with aplomb. They move outside their comfort zones, solve new problems, and otherwise add new value with each step they take.
Communication. Influencers communicate effectively in various digital media and they are far more likely than average people are to expand their social circles using social media. The Influencer has a knack for socializing and participation, and as he or she engages with others he or she draws them in. They communicate preferences and ideas effectively to many people.
Good timing. Influencers know when, how, and where to get the most impact from their voices.
Measured responses, not knee-jerk reactions. Respond carefully, don’t react thoughtlessly. You’ll get trolled occasionally; everyone working in the digital space does. What sets an influencer apart is his or her ability to cope effectively and handle adversity. Navigating response versus reaction can make or break an influencer.
Persuasion. Influencers don’t just talk. They persuade as they voice their ideas and opinions. Influencers don’t force people to follow them; everyone in their audience chose to be there and is engaged by the Influencer him- or herself as well as the topics being discussed. There is a strong contextual fit between the Influencer and his or her audience. Influencers talk less and listen more, and this is persuasive.
Quality, not quantity. Ultimately a successful marketer and a digital influencer will both seek out quality before quantity. Strong leads that convert come from expert marketing and are far more valuable than endless streams of weak leads. Influencers catch the ear of everyone who matters, and even if they have fewer followers than some others, their followers matter within the industry.
Be 100% genuine and tell compelling stories
Influencers have powerful “exposition,” which means that they tell compelling stories. They are 100 percent genuine, because the most powerful storytellers use that authenticity to fuel their work. These are the key aspects of being genuine and telling great stories as they relate to influencers.
Consistency. Influencers have a consistent message. They communicate it well, and their consistency builds trust and authority, and helps followers to remember their stories.
Credibility. Influence is driven by credibility as well as within niche expertise. These bolster the influencer/follower relationship. Only credible stories reach and stay with others.
Friendship. Influencers look for the value in everyone they meet, and not just to advance themselves. They make genuine connections with others and thereby earn their good will. Influencers put a high premium on dialogue, and marginalizing those they disagree with isn’t part of their repertoire. People respect their genuine outreach and respond with friendship, and this renders the stories of influencers even more powerful.
Integrity. Influencers don’t talk about smart financial strategies and then live foolishly, overspending and failing to plan. In other words, they have integrity that is centered upon their key values. It is easy to look at a true influencer and be absolutely sure that they really believe what they say. Each one of their stories sticks with us because of this integrity.
Passion. Influencers love what they do and they honestly hope to make a difference in the world. They project enthusiasm and passion, as if their niche and goals are fascinating; this is why all of their followers think their stories are fascinating, too.
Trust. Trust is critical to all influencers. Being open, transparent, and honest ensures their audience will listen to their stories. They know that they have no influence without their followers, and that’s why they provide their own original ideas, not just retweets and rehashes from others.
Do more for others than anyone else
Influencers do more for others than anyone else, and that is how they earn their major “share of voice.” They are better able to participate effectively in conversations on their core topics, and when they do participate, people listen because they know what they hear will be valuable. Here are the ways you can work to do more for others than anyone else:
Care about people. Influencers care more about people and general social benefit than with more material concerns. They work hard, both to reach their goals and benefit others and the world around them.
Collaborate. Influencers collaborate with others in their field. They know that “two heads or better than one” and consider multiple perspectives on each subject. This desire to collaborate means that they others a chance to share their opinions and build their own expertise. Influencers make the most of each person around them, and in an open, cooperative way.
Desire to help. Influencers are engagingly passionate about their ideas and what they do. This prompts them to want to help others, to share what they’ve got. Influencers are enthusiastic problem solvers and this trait keeps followers interested and coming back for more help.
Generosity. Influencers are generous with their ideas; they want to share them, not police who else promulgates them. They lead based on their passion for curiosity about their niche topics, so they are eager to show others the value they add. Influencers build up others around them, not monitor them for “stealing” their ideas.
Give first, get later. Influencers give without strings attached. They are not preoccupied with getting something from others, because they are already confident that they can get everything they need through their own hard work and connections to others. When they perceive people around them, they seek out ways to help them rather than just thinking about what they may gain from them.
Impact. Influencers create content and communicate with followers, but it doesn’t stop there. These shared ideas drive actions, as followers share brand preferences, buying patterns, and more.
Thought leadership. Influencers enjoy a fleet of loyal followers who anticipate, crave, and engage with their thoughts, ideas, and content. They are experts with specialized skills and knowledge that they built over time. Consistently proving these things means that their opinions are weighty and sought-after.
To be an influencer, you must balance superior digital marketing skills with being completely genuine and telling great stories, and doing more for others than anyone else. This is your strategy for providing complete, unchallenged value to the community as a whole. An influencer gives of him- or herself to benefit everyone in the community. While this may feel paradoxical to building and maintaining a strong brand, having influence goes hand in hand with brand success.
What do you think the most important factors in becoming a digital influencer are? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.