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It could be said Ed Keller and Jon Berry in writing The Influentials, discovered or at least articulated the importance of word of mouth.  They identified how one of humanity’s first forms of social influence—has become even more important and influential today for people making sense of the world.

The thing about highly influential people is they actively cultivate their influence. They view their influence as an asset and they invest in it and work on it. One of the best ways to get their attention is essentially to curate them and actively magnify their reach. – Michael Troiano

Keller and Berry thesis’ stated that one in every 10 Americans is what they call an “influential.” These people had a tremendous impact on the rest of society because their ideas and opinions are sought out by the friends, family and community members around them. The authors explain that the conversations they hold and the examples they set have the power to shape the community’s behaviours and attitudes.

The currency in influencer relations is ego. That’s the magic formula. How do you appeal to an ego in a way that you’re adding value without appearing like you’re appealing to that ego? – Joe Chernov

Social media has revolutionised many things but we believe that one biggest impacts has been on the nature of influence and the role of influentials.  Through the process of democratisation of authority the influential has been empowered and grown.  It seems hard to believe that as long ago as 2006 David Brain outlined the impact of this on the marketing world.

“So in communications and in the way brands and companies deport themselves to their customers and to their stakeholders the game is changing fast. The new model citizen who is increasingly participating and demanding a say and respect and, even a relationship, is not the person we used to know. They don’t believe us in the way the way they used to it is fundamental for most companies, brands, PR people and communicators.”

If marketers think social strategies and influencer strategies are the same thing, they are not getting it. Influencer strategies are most like traditional marketing. But social is so much more than just getting influencers and other third parties to carry your message into the marketplace. The whole influential chain is about understanding how the messages percolate and get transferred to multiple people. You need to understand your influencer heat map. Otherwise, you’ll focus on the big targets and miss where influence really takes place. –  Jonathan Yarmis

Essentially authority has seeped from the 10% that previously orchestrated the process of influence to everyone taking part in the conversation.  Today everyone in an online conversation can be a New Influential.  This is not to say that all these New influentials are born equal.  One of the defining features of online conversation is that it is visible – word of mouth made trackable.  This has enabled us to track influence and the interaction between influentials.

Our insight from this was dramatic as we found a small group certainly less than 1% who start new memes within a conversation we called these influentials idea starters.  These influentials had great authority but often relied on a bigger group around 10% of the conversation who we called amplifiers.  These are people who amplify ideas and circulate them within conversational communities.  Amplifiers often had professional or commercial motivations such as journalists, analysts but were also more often than not self created experts and avid sharers of information.  The third group of new influential we called curators these are those who look to put context around the conversation bring strands together and take it in new directions through adaption yet falling short of starting an entirely new meme.  The next group that we identified were commentators those who had a need to comment and add without giving deeply to the conversation often less influential their influence should not be ignored as when negative as in trolls a commentator can serious skew a conversation and opinion.  While we find very often commentators will often intervene to correct inaccuracies or a unfounded negative view.

Social and influencer strategies are two pieces of the same larger whole, which is outreach strategy. Anytime you’re trying to engage someone, you’re trying to accomplish four things. You want to engage them by letting them know you know who they are. You want to inform them of something that is of interest to them. You want to persuade them there’s more where that came from. And then you want to invite them into some kind of action-interaction world relationship. And then you want to lather, rinse, repeat, and replicate in scale. – Michael Dortch

Perhaps the controversial point about New Influentials is that everyone who takes part can everyone be influential.  But today taking part can simply be searching and reading in the conversation this group who we call viewers don’t leave a foot print except through Google.  Indeed it is through Google and the impact of viewers on search results that these other groups become influential and evolve their role within a conversation.  Authority rests with the search patterns of those who simply observe in a democratic world.

All quotes sourced from Ramp Up Your ROI with Strong Influencer Strategies

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