social media iconsInternet marketing has evolved beyond the basics to the point that much like in the ‘real’ world, influencers are rapidly becoming the gold standard by which others judge themselves. What is an influencer? It is someone whose choices, opinions and thoughts shape or influence the industry in which they work. Influencers are those in your industry whose opinions shape the prevailing dialogue about a topic. Brian Solis is an important social media influencer; Matt Cutts of Google is followed by many.

Influence Has Its Benefits

Influence may be a boost for your ego, but is it also a boost for your company’s bottom line? Yes. Nielsen, the national information company, published the results of a study on something called “earned advertising“.

Earned advertising, unlike paid advertising, is advertising a company gains by word-of-mouth or other factors. Recommendations from friends, family or business associates for a movie, for example, is an example of earned advertising for that particular movie. The studio didn’t purchase advertising time on television, but instead gained it through the old-fashioned method of movie-goers enthusiastic reviews for the piece.

Consumers have become increasingly savvy to subtle and not-so-subtle messages inherent in advertising. Although traditional and digital advertising still works, what studies  show is that increasingly, people turn to people they know, like and trust for an opinion on companies, products and services.  And with the rise of social media, sometimes the people they know, like and trust aren’t people they’ve actually met in person, but people they’ve only met online!

How to Become an Influencer

The know, like and trust factor is the key to becoming a successful social media influencer.

  • Know: People must get to know you first through your online presence on social media, forums, newsgroups and other places online. They do this through your photo, your profile, and the things you share.
  • Like: After they get to know you, they make up their mind whether they like what you have to offer, or what your company or brand has to offer.
  • Trust:  Trust is built through consistency over time. That’s why it is critical to share consistent, branded, strategic messages through your social media presence online. If your messages are scattered or your posts are inconsistent or infrequent, you’ll lose whatever trust you’ve developed over time.

To develop your online reputation as an influencer, there are several things you can do. You’ve got to be online frequently so that people can even get to know you and your company.  Join groups and discussions on your favorite social media sites. Be helpful and answer questions. Comment on blogs, share resources and pass along posts that are meaningful to your audience. Be as helpful as you can without giving away the store. Over time, as people learn to know, like and trust you, they will turn to your for advice and suggestions. Then you know you’ve arrived as the online influencer in your industry.

Dashboard Internet Marketing can help you build a strategic internet marketing plan that encompasses thought-leadership in your industry. Our team of seasoned marketing professionals has expertise in internet marketing, website development, content marketing, social media and more. Call us for a consultation at 800-807-1852.

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