For companies as well as individuals, social media is all about building relationships. This is how the most well-known influencers have got to where they are today, and hold such influence; they have worked hard over time to build relationships with the brands they support and gain the trust of online audiences.
Being endorsed by industry influencers is an effective way of increasing brand awareness and credibility. Companies gain additional visibility by engaging with individuals who are trusted and respected by thousands (and sometimes millions) of followers. Yet, just because you’re not an influencer doesn’t mean you don’t have influence.
What does it mean to have influence?
Having influence does not necessarily mean having a community of followers that runs into the thousands. Of course, exposure is important. But any individual who vouches for a brand has the potential to attract new leads from within their own social media audience – whether the latter amounts to two hundred or two hundred thousand connections.
Billions of conversations take place on social media every day. Meaning that those seen by thousands of people aren’t the only ones that matter. Influence is about impacting other people’s choices on a one-to-one basis. Every mention of your brand has the potential to grab attention and drive other people to connect with your company.
Influence and Brand Advocacy
Brand advocacy allows companies to increase online visibility by engaging employees, partners and fans in social media communication. And though most individual advocates don’t have thousands of followers, there are a couple of key similarities between their sharing activity and that of recognized influencers.
The first similarity relates to interests. Industry influencers are followed by people who are interested in the brands, products, and topics they communicate about. By enabling companies to tap into advocates’ personal networks, brand advocacy allows companies to reach receptive audiences with similar interests. They can do this in the same way that they engage with industry influencers.
The second similarity concerns trust. Influencers build a reputation over time, earning the trust of social media audiences. Brand advocacy too is one you build on trust. Audiences are more likely to trust company content that advocates share because they know the person in question.
Connecting and building relationships with industry influencers is one of the best ways of boosting reach and credibility on social media – but it is not the only way. Brand advocacy too is based on mutual interests and trust, which is why companies should never underestimate the influence individual social media users can yield when engaged in a brand advocacy initiative.
Find out more about leveraging brand advocacy for employees via social media
To find out more about how to leverage brand advocacy for employees, and to read case studies on how companies such as Microsoft have launched brand advocacy programs on a global scale, check out our white paper Employee Advocacy: The Next Frontier in Digital Communication as well as other Sociabble publications.