Influence: 'the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour or someone or something, or the effect itself.'
How to build influence was a central topic of discussion at a talk I attended at Web Summit 2019. Whether you are a brand, individual or celebrity; influencing people in a positive way is key to creating long lasting meaningful customer relationships. It’s important to note that you don’t have to have a million followers or customers to be able to influence; more doesn’t necessarily mean better or higher engagement.
So many people or brands have the power to influence however the term ‘influencer’ can often be painted in a negative light in the media. More recently, the term ‘creator’ has also been used to describe influencers referring to the fact that influencers create and share content with an audience? But how do you go about creating content that influences, wins customers and builds engagement?
At Web Summit 2019, I was lucky enough to listen to a panel of three stars who are in the public sphere; Jessica Ennis-Hill (DBE and Olympic Gold Medallist), Ian Somerhalder (Actor and Activist) and Caspar Lee (Youtube star with over 7 million subscribers). These individuals are very well known in their respective fields and each have their own talents. But how can you be influential and build a following if you are virtually unknown? Based on the panel discussion at Web Summit, here are some top tips.
Best Advice on Influencing in a Digital World
Create Authentic Content
Think about the best sort of content that you see online or on a website. Most of the time, content that really resonates with an audience is authentic and real.
The level of trust we have in what brands and influencers are saying is decreasing with The Fyre Festival being a recent example of how influence can have a powerful effect in a massively negative way. Individuals believed what influencers were saying about Fyre Festival and were sold a dream; however the festival turned out to be a massive flop.
Creating authentic content is important if you want an audience to trust what you are saying. By creating authentic content you will be most likely to create long lasting relationships and have higher levels of engagement as it will relate to your values (or brands), and purpose.
How do you know if your content is trusted and authentic? Think about how you are going to measure success. Are people engaging and commenting on your blog articles or on your social media channels? Are customers talking about you elsewhere in a positive way? Are your sales or leads increasing? Are your follower numbers increasing? These are all measures that show high levels of trust or engagement with your brand or you.
Be An Expert
The three stars from Web Summit are talented and are experts in their fields and highly talented. Before they even started ‘influencing,’ they already had a certain level of credibility and a lot of people trusted what they were saying already.
Increasing your influence means showing you are an expert and thought leader in the market. By showing expertise, this means higher levels of trust and credibility in you or your brand. This can be achieved by sharing new ideas, new perspectives, knowledge or insights about topics that resonate with your audience. Content such as videos, podcasts and blogs are good formats to show expertise that can then be promoted and shared on social channels.
Interact with your audience
A key take-away that all three stars spoke about at Web Summit was the fact you need to interact and communicate with your customers or fans in order to increase engagement and influence.
Listen to what people are saying through comments on social channels, reviews, forums, blog posts and take the time to respond. Feedback can enable improvement and build trust.
Influencing takes time
Jessica Ennis Hill noted that influencing takes time and perseverance. Winning customers and building a community doesn’t happen overnight. By following some of these top tips and creating powerful content that resonates with your audience on a regular basis, your brand or you can influence.