Connecting Thought Leaders With Opinion Leaders
Back in 2007, Mark Zuckerberg, then a relatively unkown 23 year old, stood in front of 200 mostly middle-aged male advertising executives and announced that his social networking site Facebook was going to change the marketing game. "For the last hundred years media has been pushed out to people," he said, "but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation." Using social networks would, he claimed, allow advertisers to piggyback on the "social actions" of users and online communities, since "people influence people."
Zuckerberg's point was that real marketers do not simply broadcast messages to a passive mass audience, rather that they target a message at a certain type of individual, called an "opinion leaders". These individuals he argued would then spread, confirm or negate the messages of advertisers through their own "social relationships", by word of mouth or personal example.
Five years later and Zuckerberg is a household name and a multi-billionaire but his point has still failed to be seized upon by businesses, public relations professionals and marketers. The challenge I want to help my audience and influencers understand is the importance of connecting thought leaders with opinion leaders and how this can lead to communities that are engaged with your products, company and ethos.
I first heard the term "word of mouse" from the entrepreneur, Will King, founder of King of Shaves. Over the past few years I've had the pleasure of interviewing and meeting Will on a number of occasions but more frequently we interact via Twitter (@kingofshaves).
Will, was one of the first entrepreneurs to 'get' the power of the social net (he bought www.shave.com for just a few dollars in the early 1990's) and then mastered the art of engaging your users via social networking long before his multi-national rivals had even heard of Facebook or YouTube. not just word of mouth"
Word of mouth recommendations remain amongst the strongest forms of marketing, few things beat the value of a positive peer review. But today the power of a peer review is today magnified by the power of the social internet, and it is not just the potential benefit of a positive review you must now understand it is also the extent to which a negative review can spread. Thus the "word of mouse" isn't just a new form of marketing, it's an essential form for both building your brand and protecting your reputation. The internet is today the best and the most trusted source of commercial product information on cost, selection, availability, and suitability, using community content, professional reviews and peer reviews. If you're not engaging with potential customers online it doesn't mean they aren't looking for you or talking about- it simply means you are oblivious to the potential rewards and risks created by this ever expanding 'digital dialogue'... and this is just the start of the transition from social networks to information networks.
I believe that the "attraction marketing" i.e. the process of branding yourself as an authority and a thought leader, is one of the most powerful marketing strategies for any business and its key personnel. However, and this is critical, the brand must be real and genuine for the attraction to be successful. Your motivations must be to provide real value to your readers, subcribers, customers, clients and community members, because true attraction marketing is viral- your followers become your marketeers for you, you simply retain their loyalty and their attention by providing them with value.