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Back in the 90s, there was a documentary about an industry famous marketing group, often called the Merchants of Cool. These guys were laying the groundwork for modern marketing practices, using a mixed method approach that meant to identify Key Influencers, or Gatekeepers.

What made the Merchants of Cool so successful was that they borrowed methods from outside the marketer’s wheelhouse. Due to the anthropological background of most of this group, they realized something that other marketers hadn’t: that in every society there are a few people whose influence in a culture is beyond that of the normal person.

These people have the ability to influence others in their culture. A gatekeeper is someone who can provide access to a larger market. A Key Influencer is someone whose opinions, style choices, and preferences sway others in their community. The two are not mutually exclusive and are in fact more likely to be one and the same.

So the Merchants of Cool came in and identified these Key Influencers. The result? Perhaps unsurprisingly to the modern eye, they were quite successful. Their practices led to a revolution in marketing, one that was only furthered by the rise of Digital Marketing. Digital marketing especially relies on Social Influencers (i.e. key influencers) in order to further market reach and potential.

More importantly, the rise of Social Media has massively improved the overall reach of Influencers. They now have a much wider pool of people they can influence and can have a much more targeted influential ability. Plus, not only do Social Influencers sway the opinions of their followers, but they can even help improve engagement with brand and service. In other words, it behooves the modern businessperson to identify, court, and eventually work with Social Influencers.

There is plenty of research conducted in the last 30 years or so to back this up:

    Marketing & Sales Analysts McKinsey & Co found that word of mouth is possibly the single biggest deciding factor in purchase decisions (driving anywhere between 20 and 50% of all product decisions;

    A negative message from an Influencer can result in as much as 20% reduction of market share;

    Almost 90% of consumers see online reviews as a massively impactful resource they consult prior to buying something;

    Twitter reports that quite nearly 50% of consumers consult one Social Media Marketer at least before making a purchase;

    About 33% of consumers trust ads. This is opposed to a stunning 90% of consumers who trust the product advice proffered by influencers and peers.

    Additionally, 40% of people on Twitter made a purchase based on the Tweet of an influencer they follow;

But like any business proposition, you want to get the most bang for your buck; there are many different types of Social Influencers, from people who don’t realize their potential to people whose own confidence in their potential is not warranted. The best bet is to hire a digital marketing team with established connections, but there are some other things to look for when picking a Social Influencer:

Vet your Influencer. Keep in mind that these people will essentially be representing your brand so you want to make sure they aren’t going to give you a bad name. If it turns out that they have some nasty skeletons in the closet (imagined or real), it could not only tank your campaign but forever tarnish your brand image. This was recently exemplified by the controversy swirling around YouTube star and major Social Media Influencer, PewDiePie.

Analyze social media profiles of potential influencers: their posts, their blogs/writings, as well as their style choices (if in a style-oriented business). Make sure that the Influencer matches the tone you want your business to have. You want to make sure that they are influencing people who would actually be interested in the service you provide.

Analyze the size of a potential Influencers audience (i.e. followers); this doesn’t mean only approaching influencers with a massive audience. While a larger audience is always attractive, you also need to consider how engaged that audience is. A potential influencer may have 10 million followers, but if only one of person bothers to stay engaged, you’re paying for a whole lot of Butkus. In fact, most research seems to point out that the best Social Media Influencers for a business tend to be mid-level Bloggers. These Influencers (often called “Power Middle Influencers”) often have more of an impact that professional influencers. In fact, these mid-level influencers have an engagement rate 16 times that of Influencers with larger audiences.

Of course, there’s no need to do this on your own. High-quality Digital Marketing companies like SDI will not only identify the Influencers who are the key to your market but also help identify KPIs that you can use to track the success of your campaign, More than that, we help with marketing campaigns on all levels.

Using similar anthropological and marketing tactics, we help perfect marketing campaigns through tried and true methods:

    Targeted messaging that attracts Influencers AND markets;

    Market research that enables us to understand how your market thinks;

    Using language used by your target market, improving your credibility in the sector;

    Identifying potential events frequented by your target market – and creating strategies to get attention at these events.

More than that, we are insiders. SDI has helped hundreds of clients grow their brand through just these tactics. We know what works, we know how to speak to people, and we know how to take your business to the next level. Creating a digital marketing campaign is a complex dance with many steps – and SDI knows them all.

Ready to get started with your own marketing campaign and Social Influencers? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

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