There has been a lot of digital ink spilled over the past 6 months related to the concept of “micro-influencers.” A micro-influencer is typically defined as a social media influencer with a smaller number of followers. In fact, a micro-influencer typically has less than 1,000 followers (and in some cases 10,000 or more not including celebrities). The term micro-influencer has climbed the Google charts – over the past 2 years searches on the term micro-influencer have grown by over 400%.
Many analyst firms have focused on the concept of advocates; however, they’re missing the point. Advocacy is typically defined as “public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.” Influence is defined as “a person or thing with the capacity or power to have an effect on someone or something.” I personally believe most of us in the business world see the concept of advocacy as a much more charged and prescriptive term and influence as one trusted to deliver education, insight, and support.
What if I told you that all around you there was a group of micro-influencers that had a reach 3-10x greater than that of your company. And, this group was also trusted up to 6x more! Wouldn’t you be interested in tapping into these micro-influencers? To put this in perspective, PostBeyond has a social presence of roughly 9762 followers (across LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for example), but there is another group, our employees, which has a combined following of approximately 28,000 (or almost 3x more) – a much larger and broader network better able to reach our audience.
When we think of this in terms of B2B marketing, this means we can tap into the employees as influencers (not everyone, just those interested in influencing) as well as partner networks (who are also incented to assist in influencing decisions through content marketing) and finally customers. The power of these groups is a great multiplier in a time when phone calls go unanswered and emails never get replied to. Trust and knowing whose content you’re consuming and engaging with is critical.
The instituteforpr.org surveyed over 1780 participants representing a range of people from the “silent generation” through “millennials” (1928-1997). One of the questions focused on the influence of industry experts in social media. The results (shown below) speak to why social engagement is so powerful.
For key industries including financial services, healthcare, travel, and retail, industry experts have a substantial impact on influencing decision making. The strongest indicators are across Millennial and Gen X age groups (encompassing those born between 1965-1997) with Boomers very close in several categories.
When focusing in on these specific industries we see that employees have a strong degree of impact in influencing decisions across all industries. The importance of establishing a core set of influencers within your organization and growing that group can have a material impact on ensuring your message is both trusted and reaching the right audience.
In an environment where we are exposed to as many as 10,000 brand messages per day, we filter based on sources we trust. So, whether the industry focuses on the use of the term “advocates,” or we look at how employees actually engage with their personal social audiences on behalf of their companies as “influencers,” this group is critical from a thought leadership, social selling, and talent attraction perspective. They cut through the online noise and deliver messages that their audiences both trust and engage with.