Yesterday over brunch John Harvey (Exeter City Centre Manager) was telling me about the above mentioned case of Twitter, and the offline momentum he gained from a single tweet. It’s a great (and digitool, not digitall) example of what I think is the greatest use of Social Media for business: engaging and envisioning influencers.
Think about the Rogers’ bell curve and the technology adoption lifecycle. Who are the people that the mass market follows? The early adopters — the influencers. Think Gladwell and Godin, the Tipping Point and The Idea Virus, and the it’s the same pattern: influencers. In fact, I started looking over every successful marketing and community building thing I’ve done over the last 10 years. It’s been about motivating influencers. Whether church, business, charity or a movement, the successful ones have had influencers, and the unsuccessful ones have had a distinct lack thereof – and have also been the ones where I’ve had to personally engage with each and every hopeful as I grasp at straws.
Let’s roll in my predictable case study of Like Minds. I’ll be brief: I knew about a third of the 200 people in the room (if that), which means I didn’t directly engage with two thirds of the people there. And in my post-event research, a good third, coming on half of the attendees didn’t appear to be on Twitter before the event. Which means somewhere along the line, people who I engaged online with social media, took it offline and convinced a good 60 to 100 people to attend. Let’s boil it down to one word: influencers.
Consider John’s example. One tweet becomes a phone call, which becomes an offline radio interview, which becomes offline campaigning — which wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for 1. social media, and 2. an influencer.
In fact, my example and John’s example didn’t just work because we had influencers. It was because we had influencers who translated the language of early adopters into the language of the mass market.
Right now, my company is developing social media strategies, integrating them and managing them for a few clients. And I can tell you what our job is in order to create a successful campaign: it’s not to find new potential users and buyers — it’s to engage on a deeper level with the existing users, find the influencers, and give them the tools to spread the message. They are the ones — not me — who will translate the message into the right language for the right people.
Those who are using Social Media to find each and every person under the sun are really missing it. They are applying factory thinking to the new model that doesn’t need factories, and will just end up torturing it till it screams in discompatibility. It’s the value versus volume game, in which they employ the same unfriendly masses from customer service and get them to Tweet copiously. It doesn’t work. Really, it doesn’t. Here’s a reality check:
- You don’t need to touch every person nor can you,
- Your influencers (plural) can reach more people than you can,
- Your influencers can reach these people with a better translation than you can,
- Therefore, your influencers actually do a better job than you do,
- But, your influencers need you to guide them, and give them the tools to share the message.
In P2P, we ditch the sales department, and instead let the people who benefit from what we do speak for themselves. Social Media is the public direct line to the influencers.
I smell smoke. Factories are burning. I also hear the shout of people over the sound of the bell around me. It isn’t a shout of revolution against. It’s a shout of a passion as we progress forward. Of course you reading this are with me, let’s influence the others to join us too.