By definition, an influencer is an individual who has the power to affect the purchase decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship. For all intensive purposes an influencer can be a journalist, an academic, a blogger, an industry analyst, a celebrity, a customer, and so on.
And in recent years companies have invested significantly in identifying individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and focusing their marketing activities around those influencers.
But should companies, who seek to woo influencers treat them differently than the rest of us?
I dare you to sit in a room full of community managers and broach this topic. Watch how quickly the conversation heats up.
For example, I was recently on a panel about community and influence at SXSW and it really got me thinking about the assumptions and rhetoric that is thrown around when the topic of influencers comes up.
I’ve run across quite a few myths when it comes to the business of influence. Here are five of them:
Myth #1: Companies can’t treat people differently.
Companies do treat people differently all the time. Airlines have loyalty programs that allow frequent fliers to stay in special lounges and stand in special lines. Stores often dole out rewards and incentives to their best customers.
This makes sense to small business owners — none of us should be surprised by it because business is about the bottom line. Ultimately, someone who contributes more to the bottom line means more to the company.
Myth #2: Companies only care about how much someone spends.
There’s more than one way for someone to contribute to the bottom line. If one person spends $500 dollars in a store and another only spends $50 but brings 10 of their friends who each spend the same, who’s worth more to the company?
This isn’t a trick question, it’s just bringing to light the fact that a customer’s value should be their lifetime spend plus referral power. Referral power is simply a customer’s ability to bring in other customers who will spend money. Both of these types of customers matter; as they both contribute to the bottom line in different ways.