Influencers get the word out with the same reach and authority that TV, radio, newspapers, and flyers did in the former media era. It is through people sharing that things spread now.

Sharing = Audience. Audience can become community. Your community becomes your brand. [Tweet this]

I think a lot of marketers and owners would like to go back to the day when you could buy advertising and expect sales from it. Like a "coin operated" process. It never really was that simple but we think it was because things seem way more complicated now than they were.

We need to build networks, manage online accounts for our brands and ourselves, create content or at least find some good stuff to share, and we need to measure all of this. That's heavy.

Focus on People

So, to make it simple, the focus of any social brand needs to be on building a community. Losing that focus usually means falling back into a "buy and broadcast" way of thinking that isn't just backwards, it will most often damage a brand.

When the focus is on building a brand community, then making people happy, answering their questions and responding to their ideas, and making sure they feel involved become the priorities. Social networks just become the efficient tools to do it. We should because we can. And also because consumers, increasingly, expect it.

Advertising Takes a Back Seat To Advocates

All we hear about in social media marketing circles is about managing advertisements. Facebook, Google, Linkedin, and even Twitter (in a big way this year!).

But advertising is a shot in the dark. It's an appeal to people that you have limited reason to believe care about your company or what you do. In contrast, an advocate is someone who has repeatedly engaged and influenced your community and likely loves what you do and is ready to support you with sharing and community support.

An Influencer can mean so much more than an advertisement in this word-of-mouth world that to invest in advertising over the people who like you already will become increasingly ludicrous as business communications matures into the 21st century.

Influencers Have Skin In The Game

Declaring that your supporters matter used to be smart PR. Now it's a "duh" statement on its way to becoming a cliché. In the coming years it will become apparent that no brand will thrive without influencers and advocates and no communications strategy will get out of the gate without a plan to make them happy and to orient growth plans toward their needs.

Does that sound lofty? Get ready for it. Influencers are influencing your market and your brand whether you're aware of it or not. They have an interest in pursuing a certain outcome, vitality, or preservation of your marketplace or your business and you can endear them to your brand, annoy them, or just not matter at all. It's up to you. This is what social business is all about.

Do you know who your influencers are and what makes them care about you?