Recently, it occurred to me that social media influence (and branding in general) is all about forming habits.
To put it simply, if you can get a consumer to get in the habit of engaging with your brand on a regular (better yet, frequent) basis there’s a very good chance that said consumer will continue to engage with your brand due to force of habit. Moreover, that same force of habit will likely to lead to socializing of said brand with said consumer’s peers.
Older, well-established companies know this well because for decades – or centuries in some cases – they’ve been using traditional mediums like print and television to habituate consumers into trusting and advocating their brands.
Then along came the internet, search, and social media. Supposedly, these new mediums turned the traditional marketing and branding model on its head, but if you think it through for a moment it’s clear that the old goal of forming habits is still alive and well. The only thing that really changed (and is still in the process of changing) is that smart marketers have shifted away from interruption marketing formats and inauthentic messaging to a more personal and believable form of communication with their customers.
Note: I just realized that I’m four paragraphs in and I’m still setting up the meat of this post, but please bear with me. I’m going to eventually tie this back to something actionable.
So to recap, engaging social influencers (and branding in general) is all about getting consumers to form habits. And while the formats and messaging have changed drastically, the general idea is still the same.
Repetition, consistency, and frequency is key.
So how do you apply this to your marketing program? Here’s how:
- If you’re going to go through the trouble of creating a blog, make sure that you’re prepared to update your content frequently (no less than once a week based on my experience)
- If you’re going to go through the trouble of creating a YouTube channel, make sure that you’re prepared to update your content frequently (no less than once a month based on my experience, and even that is probably not quite enough)
- If you’re going to go through the trouble of using Facebook to engage with consumers, make sure that you’re prepared to update your content real frequently (at least once a day)
- If you’re going to go through the trouble of using Twitter to engage with consumers, make sure that you’re prepared to update your content really really frequently (more than once a day)
- In addition to creating fresh content, be prepared to monitor and respond to consumer interactions (comments, retweets, blog mentions, etc.) in a timely manner. And by timely, I mean that same day (within seconds or minutes when possible) not in the next few days, weeks, months, years, etc.
- Understand that no interaction is too small and no consumer is insignificant. I hate it when I see a fan of a brand publish some sort of compliment or acknowledgement of said brand (example: an @ mention on Twitter) and to then see that consumer’s communication go unnoticed. Respond!
- The “habit” principle also applies to blogger (and all other forms of influencer) outreach and engagement. Don’t wait until your big product launch or promotion to reach out to influencers. Start identifying them now and start engaging them now. Build a relationship with them. A line of communication. Trust. An attitude of reciprocation and general good will. That way, when your big promo rolls around, there’s no need for a real “pitch”. Instead, it’s really little more than asking for a little help from your friends.
This last one is a biggie and it applies to both big influencers and smaller up-and-coming ones. Treat even the smallest of bloggers, Tweeters, forum mods, etc. as royalty. Because some of those little fish are sure to become big ones in the future. And they’ll remember you if you treat them right from the start.
And if you can get them in the habit of engaging with your brand from the get go, you’ll reap the ever-increasing rewards of their growing influence into perpetuity.