My college roommate, Monya, had two particularly enviable traits: an indelible eye for whatever nightlife spots/new designers/under-the-radar bands/dining options were cool and the ability to talk to – and become fast friends with – anyone. Even in an otherwise anonymous, large university, Monya couldn’t strut two steps without running into someone she knew by name, complete with colorful back story on how or why they met. People constantly sought her out for recommendations on everything from what parties to attend that weekend to which professor to avoid when filling out classes schedules. In short, she was a natural born social influencer. I’d post a back-in-the-day photo of us here, but that would A.) mean finding a scanner (pre-Facebook) and B.) reveal an unfortunate, late 90’s proclivity to long hair.
While I’d agree that you can improve your own social skills by learning how to make better small-to-medium talk and putting yourself into varied settings for practice, you can’t teach someone to be a social influencer. People like Monya are born that way – possessing a rare combination of charisma and genuine interest in the people around them – and they have tremendous power to sway their social circles.
Tastemakers with large networks don’t just walk our college campuses, they’re everywhere – especially online. Bloggers, Twitterati superstars and Facebook fiends (and those who are all of the above) affect consumer preferences whether it be on the most reliable diaper or the best cloud service for SMBs.
At Matter, we’ve recognized how the “Monyas” have gone digital and are wielding their influence throughout the social space. To harness the power of these individuals, we’ve created what we call a TIP (Targeted Influencer Program) offering for our clients. TIP is a formalized way to strengthen relationships with those key people who shape buying decisions of their readers, followers and friends. Of course, these programs are customized to each client and depend on a thorough research and measurement process to identify the players in our clients’ spaces and quantify the impact of their social sway both before and during a TIP campaign.
We’ve seen great success for consumer and technology clients already, from positive shifts in overall conversation about their brands across social platforms to changing perceptions of individual influencers, and, if I can use another college reference/term, we’re psyched to help more brands do the same.