A discussion of any subject needs to begin with a definition, and so here’s the one for social influence marketing: Social influence marketing is a technique that employs social media (content created by everyday people using highly accessible and scalable technologies such as blogs, message boards, podcasts, microblogs, bookmarks, social networks, communities, wikis, and vlogs) and social influencers (everyday people who have an outsized influence on their peers by virtue of how much content they share online) to achieve an organization’s marketing and business needs.
The definition warrants further explanation. Social media refers to content created for and consumed by regular people. It includes the comments a person adds at the end of an article on a Web site, the family photographs he uploads to a photo-sharing site, the conversations he has with friends in a social network, and the blog posts that he publishes or comments on.
That’s social media, and it’s making everyone in the world a content publisher and arbitrator. It’s democratizing the Web. WordPress.com, shown in Figure 1-1. is one popular blogging platform. Figure 1-1: WordPress.com. 05_678619-ch01.indd 8 1/29/10 9:12 PM Chapter 1: Understanding Social Influence Marketing 9 And then there are the social influencers. Are these people with special powers to influence a large majority of people? Not at all; rather, social influencers are the everyday people who influence the consumer as he makes a purchasing decision.
Depending on the decision he’s making, the social influencers may be a wife (or husband), friends, peers at work, or even someone the consumer has never even met in real life. Simply, the people who influence a brand affinity and purchasing decision are the social influencers. They may do this directly by rating products and commenting or by publishing opinions and participating in conversations across the Web. Anyone can be a social influencer, influencing someone else’s brand affinity and purchasing decisions, and you, the reader, are probably one, too, without realizing it.