The CULT of INFLUENCE: Developing Your Authority To Become An Influencer
A wise man once said:
You don’t push and convince people to buy, you influence their decision making thought process to buy-in.
When we go online we have a tendency to go to a specific site or buy a specific item over all those others that are available. It’s not like you have a preference one way or another, it’s just that your thought process seems to be guided to go to that site or buy that item. With everything that’s going on online why do we act this way as if something or someone is making us do all of this unconsciously?
The answer is pretty simple: you do all these things because you were influenced by someone to do it that way.
What does it mean exactly?
It means that someone that you perceive to have authority over certain things was able to influence the way you do things or the way you buy things. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
These people are what you would call influencers. By definition, influencers are people who influences…
Your parents are what you would call great influencers since they are able to influence your beliefs and often, the way you live. They influence you by virtue of being your parents, thus being the persons of authority you look up to.
Outside of this, influencers are basically everyday people who happen to have more authority of certain matters and are connected to key roles in the media, business industry and the community as a whole. You can call them evangelists who are able to whip up the flock to follow a certain path or position.
That’s because these people have authority. Basically, these people are recognized and valued by their peers on certain topics or subjects. For example a person who is an authority on cars will be recognized by the industry and his or her peers to be knowledgeable about cars. Their outputs are given more weight as a whole versus those people who are not recognized as being authoritative about cars.
Thus, the equation to move from being a regular and normal person to an influencer is this:
Simply put, once you have the authority, you become an influencer that can affect the thought processes of those who follow you.
On Building Your Authority – Online
If you’re going to develop your authority in order to become an influencer then the best place to go about doing that is online. Why online? That’s because nowadays people are going online for all their stuff. Whether it’s shopping or listening to music or reading about the news or looking at reviews online is the place to go.
When you build your online authority you can quickly gain the trust of your potential customers as well as your peers. This could be beneficial in that you can get more sales in the process as well as establish beneficial partnerships and other opportunities in the process. And because the online world is always a dynamic and changing entity you are able to reach a wider audience than you would have thought possible.
But First, You Need An Online Presence
While planning to build your online presence is all well and good you need to have an online presence in the first place in order to follow through with your plan. This is truly the first step you need to take in order to create and build your online authority.
- Start a blog – It may not be much of a start but it is the easiest way to get your foot in the online world. Blogging is a growing trend and a lot of influencers around the world started off as bloggers and worked their way up by blogging.
Here’s a slideshare from Hupspot on blogging tips and case studies:
Share your thoughts, opinions and insights in that blog based on the specific niche or industry you are focusing on. If you’re wondering how you can start your blog there are a number of online resources available that can help you in that regard.
- You can also check out this YouTube video if you prefer to watch instead of reading.
- Learn how to write evergreen content for lasting results.
- Big brands are also blogging, you can learn from how they do it successfully.
- Heard of branded content marketing? Johnson & Johnson is doing a killing on it!
- Join and embrace Social Media and other social sharing sites – There’s no denying the fact that social media has an impact especially when it comes to influencing people. The same can be said of social sharing sites.
If you want to become an online authority you need to join such sites in order to meet the people you want to have influence over. At the same time you can also meet other people of influence and see how they became who they are today so you can take-away lessons that you can use in order to build your own authority.
Here are some social media power tips you can use to gain authority.
It’s Time To Build Your Online Authority
Now that you have an online presence, or at least the beginning of one, you can go ahead and proceed with building and developing your online authority. There’s no quick way of doing this; you’re going to need to do the work necessary in order to gain the respect and trust that comes with the position of being an authority and an influencer.
- Choose the niche you want to be an authority of – This is important. By focusing on a niche that you are passionate about you can come across as more believable than say someone who simply chose a niche because they believed it would make them a lot of money.
- Become an expert of your niche – This means becoming the best at it. You want to be an expert on a broad enough area of your niche so you can get enough credibility but not too big so that you become good at everything but a master of none. At the same time you don’t want to limit it to a small part of your niche less you become associated with being an expert of only that aspect and nothing else.
- If there are complex issues in the industry that you’re focusing on do simplify it so it is easier to understand. Be the one to report the breaking news but always be aware of being accurate about it.
- You need to be able to communicate your thought precisely so that the readers will be able to grasp the extent of your knowledge so they will respect your contributions thereby giving you credibility.
Here are 10 good reasons why you should become an expert.
- It’s easier to create great content because you will know something about it.
- Because you know the industry and the subject matter that arises out of it, you will know your business a lot better because of it.
- You know what you need for your marketing team because you understand what you need.
- As an expert you will be more attractive to people who will want to work with you.
- People will trust you because people trust experts.
- Because of your knowledge you will be better able to foresee changes in your market and in your industry.
- You will be a media darling so they will want to interview you.
- On the same note as number 7, media, blogs and other such communities will want you to write or guess post for them.
- Expect your following to grow as people flock to you.
- Let’s face it, experts make money – period.
- Your content is important – In order to share have a following you need to give them the right content to read. This means writing things in your blog that is based on the niche that you have focused yourself into.
Check the graph image below. In this post about how to scale content marketing, Jason Acidre mentioned how mobile audience is growing fast. so don’t ignore it.
See below Lee Oden’s How to Scale Creative Content Marketing which is perfect for advanced content marketers. It’s about “Winning Hearts, Minds & Wallets.” Presentation at SES New York by Lee Odden on how to plan & implement scalable, creative content marketing programs.
At the same time, this is a way for you to engage your audience and make them your followers. That’s why you have to make sure you give them what they want with the quality that they expect in order for them to keep on following you.
- Knowledgeable content – This means the stuff that you write has to be full of information that can be used by those who read it and not something that’s just a fancy or a whim.
- Accurate and truthful – You can’t be writing about anything that’s not true. This means that what you give your audience has to be proven and verifiable and not something you just made up for the sake of having content. Nothing will make your audience run away from you than telling them lies and inaccurate information.
- Regular schedule – Don’t just writer content once and not do so for a long time. Your audience will not stay if you’re not giving them a reason to stay. By having regular content posted you give them something to look forward to so they will stick around with you.
1. Imitation is the best form of flattery – Of course this does not mean you should just copy what others are doing because that will be plagiarism. All you need to do is see what others are doing and follow suit. You can do this by making a list of the top blogs that are similar to you, ask your friends for brainstorming ideas, interview someone, have a guest writer or even ask your followers if they want to see something written.
2. Do creative content making – Just because you have to make content doesn’t mean it has to be something that’s totally, 100% original. You can do best case or worst case studies where you focus on a product or company and see what they’re doing right or wrong and what you like or don’t like about it. Reviewing something always makes it easier to make content. So is re-hashing older posts in order to remind old readers about it and give new readers a chance to know about it.
- Use something people know about as part of your content – For example let Spiderman teach people about online journalism and the like. Your purpose here is to combine your content with something that your audience knows about such as movies, TV shows, books and comics, celebrities and anything that is trending right now.
- If all else fails take a walk – Finding a muse is in order to write is always hard. Take a break, watch a movie, see a play or do anything that can help stimulate your mind so you can come up with good content that your audience will love.
- Bring experts from time to time – Don’t write everything yourself. If you can try to have someone that’s already known to be an authority and expert in the area you’re focusing on to guest write content for you as a guest blogger. This will show your audience that you’re pulling out all the stops in order to give them great content even if it means bringing a well-known outsider in.
- Guilty by association – A way for you to make use of experts is to take advantage of their proximity to you. The more you are “seen” with authoritative experts and influencers in your niche the more people will associate you as being one of the experts as well so they will follow you more than they would otherwise.
In order to bring in the experts you need to be able to find them so you can reach out them. Even if you plan on getting experts, if you can’t get to them then that whole plan is for naught.
- Understand who it is you want to get – there are a number of experts out there. You want to get the one that is the same as who you are, what you represent and who your audience is.
- Track them – This way you get an idea of who’s who in the online community. Create your keyword list based on your niche and the type of expert you want and use listening posts such as Google alerts to let you know if any of your keywords get mentioned.
Here are some tools that you can use for finding and tracking experts and influencers that you can use for your own blog or community. It will make it easier for you so you don’t waste a lot of time in the process.
- Traackr – Enables you to find the influencers who are most relevant to your business and products.
- Appinions – Uses opinions from millions of online sources like blogs, social networks and forums to give you influencers based on their digital footprint.
- Klout – Measures the ability of people to drive action on social networks. The higher the score the higher that person’s influence on a specific topic.
- Kred – Search using keywords to get a list of recent mentions as well top outreachers, tweets and locations.
- Followerwonk – is one the best tool where you can find those experts in your niche in Twitter.
Engage your experts – This means interacting with them so they know who you are. This could be as simple as following their feeds as well as in Facebook and Twitter. Retweet or like their posts every chance you get. Post constructive comments in their posts. Your goal here is to make them become aware that you exist and that you are a productive member of their community.
Cooperate with your targeted experts – This means collaborating with them in community projects or helping them with their content. Of course, it means you have to prove yourself to them before they will allow themselves to be a part of this so you need to work hard in that respect.
Once you have developed a connection with them it will be easier for you to bring them into your own community and get them to post for your blog and share their insights to your own followers.
Online engagement matters because without it everything you do will all be for naught. The authoritative experts, those that have become influencers, did not become such by not engaging their audience. It is because they engaged their audience that their audience have remained loyal and thus, get influenced by these experts.
That said, engagement simply for the sake of engagement is worthless. What you want is engagement that is really engagement – that is to say engagement that creates a connection between you and your audience such that you form a dialogue. Basically, there should be a back-and-forth interaction between you and your audience and it is important so that your audience will feel a connection with you and what you represent.
- Pitch a change-up – In baseball this is a way to keep the batter guessing. In online engagement it is a way to keep your audience mesmerized and focused on you. Give them more than they are looking for and don’t keep giving them the same thing over and over again. Sure, reading good quality content is not bad but put in videos every now and then to break the monotony and keep the interest alive.
- Be responsive – Your audience comments on your content because they want an explanation or to debunk something that’s written there. Don’t just brush it off by not responding. Instead, respond in a thoughtful manner that considers their comment while at the same time brings your own arguments into the fore.
- Refocus – Try and refocus your engagement based on your audience’s interest. If you have followers try and find out what many of them are looking for. In your social media account you can get information as to what interests your followers so you can incorporate them into your content so you offer them what they are looking for.
Once you have gained enough of an authority you may be influencial enough that you can use it for marketing purposes. When you do this you become a part of the influencer marketing system that has arisen and is becoming more and more set in terms of practice and practicality.
You can be a buyer-influencer of a certain product or service or you may be a value added influencer. Whatever the case may be you can use your influence within your network to persuade people to buy or follow you on the direction that you want them to go to.
There have been many successful influencer campaigns that have made big money for the brands and businesses that used them.
Becoming an expert in a field and becoming an influencer in that field is a no-brainer for some people. After all, there are good reasons to become one. For one thing search engines like it if your content is that of an expert. Another thing is that let’s face it; if you’re not an expert no one cares what you think or do.
At the same time communities will form and followers will congregate based on your expertise. It’s only logical because it is human nature after all. People are drawn to experts; they trust experts.
As such, because of your expert status, people will be more willing to buy from you. If not buy then they are more willing to follow what you say and give it more standing than those coming from other people. As more and more people give you credence you influence shall grow and grow.
How do you deal with your influence power?
As your influence grows so does your power. Basically, you have the power to tell people what to think, what to eat, what to buy and in some cases who to vote for. Influence as a power is a very dangerous thing and one that can be abused even if it is for the right reasons.
The content that you write can become the call to action that makes people act the way they do. It is basically your content that commands them which means that their actions are directly connected with your influence.
You have to remember that you became an authority, that you became the expert, that you were able to exert influence upon those that follow you because THEY ALLOWED YOU TO INFLUENCE THEM.
This means that they have given you the responsibility of being the leader in your niche. Thus you have the power over those that have given you your status as an expert. It’s a cyclical thing because:
Here’s a great piece of video from Janette Toral of DigitalFilipino.com on how you can be responsible with the power of authority that your followers entrusted you.
“Influence though is something that you don’t earn as a one shot deal. It is short-lived. It will only last long if you can sustain it by being relevant, consistent, and engaging with your audience.
You can also strengthen your influence by helping or empowering others reach their influencer potential. That is without expecting anything in return.
This is also the reason why I have the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs Writing Project, the free Digital Influencer Boot Camp online series, and Digital Influencers Marketing Summit.
I take great pride and joy when a protege reaches “influencer” status. It allows you to validate whether the ideas or thoughts you have on how to attain influence works.” -Janette Toral
You might want to read my post on How to Create Buzz Marketing Without Shooting Yourself.
And it goes on and on from there. How you deal with it and use that given responsibility and power will dictate how you will be perceived by others. Complacency in that position should not be your focus. After all, like the mob in ancient Rome, what they can give you they can also take away. How can you influence them with your authority if they’re not there to be influenced anymore?
Even if they do good by having an online presence and engaging with their audience as mentioned above do they deserve to have that influence?
Leave your comments below and let’s see if we can influence one another.
The CULT of INFLUENCE: Developing Your Authority To Become An Influencer by Mark