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Influence in communities: 5 rules

May 28, 2009

Baby_Shoe_1Influence is a growing topic nowadays and influencer marketing one key strategy for reaching business objectives in this tough economy (see Scott Pearson’s post).

So, we’ve witnessed “lists of influential people” (including our list of Top 150 Social Media Marketers) popping up all over the place as if the world could be drawn with a bunch of influential graphs.

Not that easy… and here is a couple of things marketers should think about when approaching influence.

Let’s pick a practical example. You’re launching a new designer shoe and you’re planning to do a blogger outreach campaign to spread the word about the cool features this new “social shoe” has.

Obviously  you would start by identifying the top blogs in your target.
First problem you’ll experience is that most of so called “blog search” are actually post search engines. Techcrunch, for instance, may have covered the Zappos web site recently; it is certainly a very influential blog in Technology and Business but its influence is very low when it comes to fashion or shoes.

# 1: Unless you can address relevance, influence is pointless.

Let’s say then that you’ve been able to identify all the relevant people in fashion, i.e your target community. What we have measured is that some influencers tend to be more influential on the long tail (should be that called popularity ?) , other looked more influential on their peers.

# 2: Influence means influence over a group of people, not only on a topic

Some also seem to reach out more people in the community with “light” binding, whereas others will be the center of small cohesive sub nets.

# 3: Influence is a multi-dimensional variable with at a minimum “reach” and “depth” attributes

At this point you may have a pretty good view of what your target is and for instance, which blogger you can send samples to get reviews.

You still have to maximize your chances of the free pair of shoes not to be thrown in the trash! The thing is you may be completely unknown in that market and sending just another sample to people on the top of the list may be… useless.

So you decide to start influencing the magic middle and to build your way up to key influencers over time. That way, you have a pretty good chance to get coverage within 3 months. More on this from Dave Fleet.

# 4: Influence is a strategy and a process, what works for Zappos may not work for yetanothernewbrandintown.

OK. You’re still with me and are not giving up that easily. Let’s end with a positive note. Chances are high you’re already a member of that same community you want to influence (if not: start blogging now). Why don’t you leverage your existing trust and relationship and start reaching out your immediate network?

# 5: Influence is a process you’re a part of. That’s what we call actionable influence ™.

Have fun !

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