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Being a Brand Influencer — It’s Not Just for the Cool Kids

Want to be an influencer in your industry? You don’t have to have six-pack abs or a first and last name that starts with “K.” To be an influencer, you just have to be an expert in your industry. 

What is an expert? An expert is someone who has achieved a level of mastery about a certain skill or has authoritative knowledge in a particular field. When Malcolm Gladwell published his 2008 bestseller, “Outliers,” he suggested that expertise or mastery comes after practicing a skill for more than 10,000 hours. Most professionals have broken the 10,000-hour frontier and can legitimately call themselves “experts.” So how can you use your skill to become an influencer?

Establish Your Expertise, Choose Your Channel

It’s important to narrow down your knowledge to a defined niche, an area of expertise for which you want to be known. This is a way of differentiating yourself from others in your field. It helps to think about who your target audience is. HubSpot and delve.ai both offer buyer persona tools that can help you identify the wants, needs, challenges, goals and user journeys of your ideal readers, so that you can develop focused content that addresses their top concerns.

Choosing the right social platforms, where interest-aligned audiences can engage with you, is an important step in the process. Social influencers are currently thriving on Instagram and LinkedIn. While upwards of 90% of social media influencers focus their content on Instagram, it’s important to analyze where your audience is spending their time and which platform will bring you the best results. On Instagram, where visual content is king, you will often see lifestyle-oriented influencers. Its Stories feature also lends itself to sponsored content. While LinkedIn offers video posting options, the platform embraces text and is ideal for publishing blogs and text posts, making it the preferred medium for influencers focused on business and academic topics.

When choosing your channel, consider these elements: your target audience; the types of content you will be creating; and where other influencers in your niche are active. Tutorials play well on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Articles that offer information or advice are more appropriate on LinkedIn. 

Build Your Online Presence

Once you’ve figured out what you want to talk about and where you want to post, the next step is building an online presence to get your message heard. Being real and vulnerable in your delivery is essential to creating a lasting connection with your followers. Understand also that they are real and vulnerable people with similar concerns and challenges to you. 

Andrew McAvinchey, Vice President Sales and Marketing at Our Tandem, counsels, “Perfection isn’t necessary, but being as genuine as you’d be with a friend or family member is important.”

The most successful influencers are powerful storytellers who create content that motivates and inspires others. McAvinchey, whose parents are both Irish poets, says that “influence happens through being able to structure a story in a way that makes someone feel like this is their story, that they’re the hero, and that you understand where they are coming from.” If your story is compelling, then followers will readily respond to your calls to action.

Vendr Founder and CEO Ryan Neu cautions against sounding salesy. “Write about the things you care deeply about — not the things that you think will generate buzz. If you care deeply about a topic, it’ll be easier to write about and will be more interesting to your audience.”

When you post, be vigilant about responding to your followers when they leave a question or comment. The “social” in social media suggests that it is an interactive medium, where people can exchange ideas and create relationships. Getting to know your readers will give you further insights about what information would be valuable to them in the future. 

In instances where feedback is negative or critical, it’s important to remain professional and resist the temptation to retaliate.

Consistency is another hallmark of successful influencers. If followers can’t count on you to deliver informative content on a consistent basis, they will likely give up on following you. Social automation tools like eClincher make it easier by allowing you to schedule posts in batches so you don’t have to manually publish on each of your social media profiles. HubSpot Sales Director Dan Tyre suggest planning out at least 24 postings in advance to ensure consistent content.

Between 2014 and 2019, the amount of money companies spent on social influencer marketing increased in the same proportion that print ads decreased. At the same time, the number of people using social media also increased. When 2020 began, there were more than 3.8 billion active social media users around the world. A whopping 99% of them were accessing their platforms from mobile devices, making content constantly accessible. The global pandemic has only increased social media and internet usage, as people are adapting to conducting business virtually and striving to remain connected with customers, colleagues and trends. 

Influencers are leaders, visionaries. They are up-to-date on industry developments and have thoughtful insights about what is coming next. Become a voice people rely upon in your industry for guidance about where to invest resources and how to position themselves and their companies for success. In today’s rapidly changing and unpredictable world, people are especially eager for forward-looking advice.

So, if you’re an expert who wants to make the D List (in the Urban Dictionary, a person who has made a name for themselves through social networking sites), it’s okay if you’re not “swol,” or if for you, a pocket protector is “on fleek.” Social media is a place where experts of all sorts can demonstrate their prowess and influence the world!

Big Chief Creative Media helps enterprising brands to increase their influence utilizing the latest digital technologies and marketing automation tools.