Social influencing is the ability to influence behavior through your social and digital networks. A strong ability to influence your social network equals high social currency net worth, which doesn’t just translate into a high number of followers and engagements--rather it is a direct financial impact of your company’s bottom line and potential for long term success.
Purchasing power is in the hands of people, and business is no longer B2B or B2C. Rather, business is S2S--soul to soul. Success in business is dependent on personal relationships. Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family.
As the communication gap between brands and consumers has largely disappeared, and consumers can get access to any information about your company--and reviews on how others, whom they trust, experience shopping with you--to find out about you before they buy. And, they do not go to your website. They go to the key influencers talking about your business.
Social technologies offer effective and efficient ways to increase and engage your network, both locally and globally, and it is of great value to most businesses to find the key to building social currency. So, how do you crack this code to become a trustworthy social influencer?
Get beneath what you do and sell, and into the core of why you do what you do. Draw your audience toward you with your contagious passion for why you do what you do. If you are only focused on what you sell, the communication and connection with your audience will be too superficial to build social influencer standing.
If you grow and sell tea, then share all about why you are passionate about tea. Perhaps it’s the fine flavor variations in tea from specific regions of the world; perhaps it’s the health benefits of herbal and green teas, or perhaps it’s the beauty of tea ceremony and the tradition of tea and slow living.
People are hungry for meaning and connection with other people, and purpose is a strong motivator in attracting a community of like-minded people who share your values and can help bring your purpose-driven cause and business to life. Give your audience a way to connect and be part of your purpose. If you talk about a product on your company Facebook page, drive the context back to your purpose. Why is it that sharing this product with your followers is important? If the answer is "to sell more product," you are not digging deep enough. Underneath the desire to sell more lies your true purpose.
When you give from an authentic place, you are considering what the person in front of you needs or feels inspired about, because without a manipulating and self-serving hidden motive, we connect with people on a deeper level. If you keep this behavior consistent over time, you develop trust and loyalty with your audience and community. And that’s what you need--people who are loyal to you coming back again and again, and, who also act as your ambassadors telling their friends about you. They will start doing this on their own when you clear your attachment to a particular outcome and give to them from a clean place.
Trust is built over time and is based on your consistent trustworthy behavior through all the touch-points between you and the people who encounter your business, both internally and externally. This includes your website, all your social media profiles, any marketing materials, products, packaging, displays, written words, visual communication, how employees are treated and most importantly, the behavior of everyone on your team, and how you and your team act in your local community and in the world at large. People buy from people they trust.
Evaluate your business on the below Trust Equation, so you can determine the current standing of your company’s trust-building ability. From here you can create actionable efforts to increase the areas of weakness.
Credibility: Your expertise as shared with your audiences. How knowledgeable are you in your field? Does your audiences see you as a credible expert? Do they listen to you?
Reliability: Are you being consistent in frequency, tone of voice and visual feel in all touch-points? Do you follow through on delivering what you promise every time?
Intimacy: Your ability to make someone feel comfortable in opening up and being themselves with you.
Self-Orientation: Where is your focus? The more you focus on the other, the more trustworthy you come across. If you are too self-oriented, you come across as low in trustworthiness.
Random acts of social media do not work. If your goal is to increase your social influencer status, then you need to create a plan. But before you plan, work through each of the above stages and do your work. Observe yourself, your brand, your employees and all your communication touch-points thoroughly. Be honest with yourself. Identify your weaknesses, and create an action plan to improve these areas. Continue to observe and fine tune behaviors again and over time. I recommend that you see this process of becoming better as a playful process of imperfection. There is no final perfection, but rather, this is a lifelong process of fine tuning.
What are some of your best practices for connecting with customers on social media?