As part of a $5-10 billion industry, influencers in 2020 continue to gain popularity and we’re definitely listening. The evolution of social media has altered the way we think and make decisions. More importantly, it’s caused us to reassess what it means to hold social influence.
In this article, we’ll explore social influence and dive into 7 strategies for making it work to your benefit.
What is Social Influence?
By dictionary definition, social influence is “the change in behaviour that one person causes in another, intentionally or unintentionally, as a result of the way the changed person perceived themselves in relation to the influencer, other people, or society in general.”
In more approachable terms, it’s an idea that marries persuasion, marketing, and conformity. By creating an environment in which others feel the need to belong, you incorporate social influence.
Social influence can exist in many different forms beyond your typical influencer—whether in a large following on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, a positive word-of-mouth experience, or even in great relationships with your clients.
Why Does Social Influence Matter to Modern Businesses?
Contractors are constantly thinking up ways to connect with potential customers and make business exciting. Especially within the tradie industry, where jobs are skill-based and straightforward, social influence allows you to unlock the full earning potential of your services.
Gaining credibility on- and offline gives your business the power to drive certain responses and influence buying decisions. When you create buzz, you increase traffic and sales. The greater your sales, the greater you’ve applied certain methods of influence.
On top of crafting a strategy that best works for your business, you’ll need to know how to measure success in order to streamline your operations. Measuring influence can often be perplexing—after all, you’re dealing with dozens of metrics. So, how do you choose?
It’s simple: outline your goals and decide which metrics reflect them best. If, for example, you’re a smaller business looking to engage locals and establish community presence, you’ll want to focus on volume. The more likes and follows you obtain, and the more people talk about you, the closer you probably are to being where you want to be.
That said, you’ll always need to be improving your strategies. Here are 7 best practices for increasing your social influence.
7 Social Influence Strategies You Need to Know
1. Choose to Fit In
A large part of incorporating social influence effectively is understanding conformity. In some ways, business is a lot like one’s formative years—we’re all hardwired to want to fit in.
For years, whether on screen, in print, or online, brands have been demonstrating relatability by mimicking the behaviours that consumers best respond to. Take Apple, one of the world’s most recognisable brands, and how it’s tapped into the notion of family or niche groups to advertise.
Alternatively, you might take after a popular campaign or icon, the way IKEA once parodied Apple. In the end, imitation, whether humorous or to strike an emotional chord, has proven itself time and again a successful method of connecting with an audience.
2. Choose to Stand Out
Beside our constant longing to be part of something is an equal longing to stand out. If you’re on the road towards expanding and diversifying your clientele, you’ll want to connect with as many types of people as possible.
Keep in mind that no one business is limited to benefiting from high-profile clients. Instead, you’ll want to touch base with others who are up-and-coming, industry peers, other experts, or even competitors.
Begin wherever you see fit—whether you’re taking a well-known trend and executing it differently or establishing a unique brand voice.
Good business leaders differentiate themselves from competitors and inspire those around them to go against the grain as well. After all, everybody’s got a bit of a soft spot for the rebellious type.
3. Inspire High Performing Behaviour Internally
Social influence isn’t all about the impact you make externally, but the way you encourage better performance from your teams. In fact, 71% of executives are now realising the correlation between employee engagement and a company’s success.
We’re all privy to the notion of “healthy competition”—but you’ll need to draw the line between alienation and productive social comparisons. Ditch the monthly winner-take-all and top-performing employee contests. They’ll only demotivate your team.
Instead, consider a project management system that allows your team to keep up with one another without having to “lose” to a better-performing peer.
If you’re looking into software, try Teamwork. It allows business managers to get an instant overview of team capacity and reassign tasks depending on productivity.
Practising a generous amount of employee engagement and assessing your team’s bandwidth will allow you to make more informed decisions and design more effective working environments.
4. Play Up a Trait or Habit That is Uniquely Yours
It goes without saying that a strong brand identity makes for greater social impact. In fact, being consistent across all platforms can increase a brand’s revenue by up to 23%. Consistency breeds trust, which is a goal achievable by means of a powerful identifier.
You could start with a catchphrase similar to that of Nike’s “Just Do It” that might reflect your brand’s philosophy. You might also try crafting a memorable image or stinger. Whatever identifier you choose to build off, remember to keep them bite-sized. Anyway, the best method of getting your branding to stick is by making it easily shareable.
Brand building isn’t just about a well-designed logo or clever copy—you’ll also want to sit down and consider your strategy. Above all, what you might not realise is that your brand identity isn’t just what you want it to be, but what others tell you it is.
Your brand is your reputation, and building it goes beyond knowing what you want to say. Your brand goes where you go—on your blog, your email, your social media, and in the way you speak. Establish a unique voice and know it well.
5. Consider Not Only What You Give but How You Give It
In 2012, a Samsung fan who’d jokingly requested a free Galaxy S3 along with a drawing of a dragon saw his appeal gently turned down by Samsung. But not before they accompanied their reply with a drawing of a kangaroo. The fan proceeded to share the post, which Samsung caught wind of as it became viral, and ended up gifting him the device anyway—dragon etched to the back of its case and all.
Samsung, along with dozens of other brands, has since proven that what you give can make a bigger impression depending on how you give it. Not only does your brand become memorable, you learn to refine the way you communicate.
When you know what your audience best responds to, it becomes easier to incorporate the same type of messaging across other platforms. The formula is simple: complete a high-quality job and throw in a memorable takeaway.
Perhaps you might entice a customer with a free add-on or discount if they choose to hire you again. Even a simple thank you note is enough to let your customers know you value them.
6. Share Industry Knowledge
There’s no better way to assert yourself as an industry expert than through knowledge sharing. Not only are you able to frame yourself as a go-to for potential clients—it improves internal communications and unifies your workforce.
74% of employees feel they’re missing out on company information and news, which makes now the perfect time to brush up on keeping your team in the loop. Employees who are in the know are more likely to engage in open collaboration and give you feedback. Plus, you get to reap the benefits of a more involved workforce.
The perks of knowledge sharing exist far beyond your business. While it may seem counterintuitive, sharing what you know with peers and competitors can encourage a sense of community.
Think of it this way: while you’ll want as much as possible to be ahead of the game, positive relationships with other contractors allow you to fill knowledge gaps and learn as learning happens. You won’t always have the time to attend a seminar, much less when you’re trying to work on your social impact in the first place.
Sharing your expertise is as productive as it is a key to stronger relationships. Part of a successful social influence strategy is having others back your business. Being lauded for the quality of your work can take you even further when you’re a well-respected member of the community.
7. Collaborate With Other Influential People
If you’re a tradie, then tapping into influencers as a method of marketing your business may be the last thing on your mind. That said, bear in mind that “influencer” doesn’t necessarily imply “celebrity.”
In 2019, two-thirds of marketers in various industries increased their budget spend on influencers for the very reason that they could, well, influence others.
You don’t have to consider Hollywood types with millions of followers. In fact, you may be better off pairing up with an industry expert or local icon who might benefit from your products or services.
Connecting with the right influencers for your brand can get tricky. What you’ll want to consider are:
- How relevant this influencer is to your business and industry. Do they align with your target market?
- How great of a reach you can achieve depending on an influencer’s following. Will they get you where you want to be?
- The type and level of engagement you can achieve with a particular influencer. Larger numbers may look attractive, but niche influencers may bring your business more meaningful interactions.
More importantly, don’t forget that collaboration is a two-way street. You’ll never know exactly how in-demand an influencer is, so if you’re reaching out, you’ll want them to know you care just as much about their branding as you want them to care about yours.
Dedicate time to learning what your chosen influencer is all about. Aligning their vision with yours can create an emotional connection to your brand story. But to get there, you’re going to need to be willing to give up some creative control.
Influencers are content creators at their best—you can trust they’ll spot when your branding seems inconsistent with theirs. More importantly, you can bet they won’t settle.
Perhaps what is most important to remember when it comes to social influence is the fact that we experience it even when we don’t mean to. It occurs offline as much as it does online, and we’re constantly harvesting various responses. Sometimes we seek to become like bigger, better businesses. Other times, we hope to become nothing like them.
Bottom line is, social influence is a more powerful tool than we give it credit for. When studied and incorporated effectively, any tradie manager can achieve high-performing working environments, create buzz, and make a name for their business.