You’ve probably heard about Jimmy Fallon being picked as the new host of “The Tonight Show.” “The Tonight Show” is old school, and may not call to mind “social power.” But if we look at the reason behind why he was chosen, we get a glimpse into the power of key influencers within social media to build, influence and sustain a brand.
Specifically, Jimmy Fallon was chosen because he has eight million followers on Twitter, compared to Jay Leno’s half-million (500,000). According to The New York Times, “Mr. Fallon, 38, offers a more contemporary and varied brand of entertainment, with a heavy reliance on the Internet.” Fallon’s comedy and funny sound bites can be found on YouTube and easily shared across the social web by fans. As a celebrity, his influences grows as he interacts with his fans daily. He is also a master at crowdsourcing. His viewers submit comedy ideas through Twitter (http://nyti.ms/YGDV5o).
This is a large-scale example of the importance key influencers play in branding of all kinds -including employer branding. We know that peers are a key influencer when making decisions, and sites like Glassdoor (employment decisions) and Quora (broad range) leverage that to solicit input from peer groups on relevant topics.
And the opinions that are most credible float to the top and self-perpetuate in reach and influence. So if your most credible responder on Glassdoor says something negative about your company, it threatens to impact your brand negatively and exponentially. This is why it is important that your employer branding strategy, in addition to including social media, content creation, content curation and development, include identification and outreach to key influencers within your space. What does this mean exactly?
A key influencer is someone within the social media space who holds influence with your target audience. Influencers are important to identify, engage with and monitor. Even if your Facebook careers page has 200% more “likes” than your closest competitor, it is the quality and quantity of key influencers within those “likes” that matters. A smaller network of effective influencers is far more powerful than a thousand followers who add little social value.
There are three types of key influencers and differentiating them allows you to invest your social media time wisely:
- Expert Influencer: Has an enormous following much larger than their direct connections; image and brand are strong and established. Influencer possesses well-respected expertise in a specific area.
- Referent Influencer: Active on social media and maintains level of meaningful activity that makes them essential to have in your network. Accessible, personal, credible and, as a result, highly influential. Many are considered experts in particular subject. Think of an editor who blogs about “best places to work” including an inside the industry scoop.
- Positional Influencer: This is someone who touches your target audience due to proximity or friendship. Think current employees who are connected to target graduating seniors or conference attendees/speakers.
Once you’ve identified key influencers within your target audience, develop an outreach plan that specifies engagement for each level of influencer. Engagement is time-consuming (like any relationship), part art and part science, and it is important to differentiate signal from noise so you are focusing your efforts on quality influencers who can bring quality – and far-reaching -results.
Just like Jimmy Fallon and Late Night, his value is not based solely on his end-product (comedy), but on the credibility and influence he has in a particular space in the entertainment world. As an employer, start identifying those who influence and bring value via information or content and you will realize the edge social media can provide.