Benefits of Micro-Influence

Social networking and online collaboration have become the basis of electronic publicity for creative practitioners. For example, Facebook alone allows you to communicate to the masses what you are doing, what events are taking place, and what achievements or recognitions you have been received, etc. Relevant newspaper articles and other print media pertaining to your practice can be scanned and uploaded to your profile or added to status updates, allowing clients and potential clients to view your accomplishments within minutes of publication. Through this and other means, you can create a “buzz” about your creative practice.

Whether on- or offline, the ultimate advantages of networking are growing sales, leads and forming strategic alliances. Yet social networking has many more advantages to help you grow your business. You just need to learn the right techniques.

Social networking opens up new business opportunities all over the world. It can be daunting to dive into the virtual meet-and-greet world but don’t be put off, the advantages are numerous:

Accessibility. In many ways, social media levels the playing field for businesses as it is accessible to everyone, regardless of company size, turnover and contacts.

Range. There is a wide range of social media sites and tools you can use to be more interactive: communicating and exchanging information with customers. This number is growing every day.

Low Cost. Social media tools offer more cost-effective ways to achieve your goals. Most sites are free with the main cost being time spent on updating profiles and interacting with contacts.

Marketing opportunities. You can use social media to create and distribute content and promotional material, such as articles, videos and audio – and all for a fraction of the money it would cost for this content to appear in the press, on the radio or on TV.

SEO. Distributing content via social media provides you with more opportunities to entice others to visit and link to your website. This is a great way to enhance your organic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) authority.

Research. You can research your competition, customers, or partners.

Collaboration. Easy connections with colleagues, customers, and industry thought leaders, allows you to source feedback, test ideas and manage customer services quickly and directly online in ways not available via traditional media.

Instant communication. Through social media, you can communicate information instantly, regardless of geographical location. If a piece of content goes viral, there is no limit to the amount of people it could potentially reach, all at no extra cost to you.

Building relationships. You can gain return customers and receive referrals by marketing the skills as well as services you offer via social networking.

Measurability. With social media, you can test marketing messages and approaches, gauge user responses and tweak the message accordingly. This is done through the ever-growing number of free, easy-to-use social media measurement tools including Facebook insights and Google analytics.

Increased traffic and subscriber rates. Having a database of subscribers to your newsletter or regular updates is a huge asset.

Word of mouth referrals. The most valuable lead in business is that which has been reinforced through word of mouth from your loyal brand advocates.

Creating a profile. You can benefit tremendously from a social networking profile that contains all the pertinent information that users need in order to evaluate your business.  Your profile may include pictures of you, your team, products, completed projects, as well as logos and contact information.

Effortless messaging. By targeting large audiences with a single click, messages and updates can be sent to all of your followers; just one of the many facets of social networking.

Opportunity to reward loyal customers by providing incentives. You can provide contests, games, and prizes for clients who participate at a reasonably low cost.


Micro-influence is not what you think, and why YOU need to know.

Social media platforms offer opportunities for individuals, just like you, to connect and network with their family, friends and colleagues.  Some individuals have used those opportunities to grow their network outside of their immediate community. While growing their network some have achieved personal influence by becoming highly engaged with their community who rely on their trusted content.  These individuals are micro-influencers and they have established a credible and trustworthy social media reputation, usually within a niche. Micro-influencers are typically everyday people expressing their passions and recommendations through sharing their everyday life. 

This could be you!

Have you considered that you may already be considered a social media micro-influencer?

If not, you should.

Whether on-or offline, the ultimate advantages of networking for professionals are gaining sales, leads and forming strategic alliances. Yet social media networking has many more advantages to help you support your professional practice. You just need to learn the right techniques.

In many ways, social media levels the playing field, increasing opportunities for an individual to set up their practice regardless of network size, turnover and contacts. Social media tools offer more cost-effective ways to achieve your professional goals. Most sites are free with the major cost being time spent on updating profiles and interacting with your network.

You can benefit tremendously from a social networking profile that describes your story as a creative professional so that other users can connect with you online, growing your network. Your profile may include links to all your social media profiles, pictures of you, products, completed projects, colleagues and contact information.

By having a clear representation of your story and your professional practice, you will grab the attention of new connections. With a single click, messages and updates can be sent to your network. You can research your competition, customers, or partners; just some of the many possibilities of social networking.

Social networking opens up fresh opportunities all over the world. It can be daunting to dive into the virtual meet-and-greet world but don’t be put off. The advantages are numerous.

Social media a new literacy. How can educators support 21st century skills in a digitally disrupted education environment?

It is undeniable that digital technologies and social media have become an important aspect of our lives. Educators are recognising opportunities for professional development on SMP (social media platforms), through informal learning, tacit knowledge and connectionist approaches. Digital technologies have impacted how professionals can engage with learning so quickly that educational providers are still catching up. New modes of learning are evolving with the introduction of new digital technologies, professionals are being empowered to be accountable for their learning experience (Oliver 2019; Williams 2019).

Current scholarship points towards smaller online courses, referred to as Micro-credentials, that provide the learner with an opportunity to target specific learning goals or outcomes. Micro-credentials have emerged as a viable option as professionals captain their own educational experiences and demand more relevant and flexible options, blurring the link between professional development and postgraduate study (James 2018).  I argue micro-credentials are an effective learning modality for creative practitioners to improve their social media literacy but acknowledge there are many unpresented challenges as formal learning methods become informal and students become more connected on SMP.

Micro-credentials have a variety of names including; MOOC’s, nano-degrees, certificates, digital badges, bootcamps (Milligan and Kennedy 2017; Oliver 2019) and are offered in a variety of fields.  For the purpose of my research I am focused on social media literacy scholarship. Scholarship discussing social media literacy is limited and therefore I have broadened my research to include micro-credentials for digital literacy specifically for industry recognition as professional development. Current micro-credentials offerings will be discussed in a future blog.

Micro-credentials have evolved through progressive technology improvements, workforce disruptions, high cost and loss of trust in university degrees. Milligan & Kennedy (2017) state “there are signs that trust is eroding in the utility of the degree”. Oliver (2019) argues that micro-credentials are emerging as a viable alternative to traditional educational institutions.  Several industry reports support this argument as a opportunity to improving Australia’s digital skills (Cunningham et al. 2016; Hajkowicz et al. 2016; Microsoft Australia 2018; Richardson and Milovidov 2017; deLaski 2019; Stewart, Katherine, Salil Gunashekar,…; Bridgstock 2014; Business Council of Australia 2016; Lucas and Smith 2018; Ferguson et al. 2019; Hasan Bakhshi Jonathan M. Downing Mic…; Siemens et al. 2015)

Knowledge is being shared and co-created by produsers (Bruns 2007) who are choosing their educational pathway and educators need to ensure their relevancy. Scholars have labeled the process of highly networked knowledge sharing as connectivism (Downes 2005; Siemens 2004).  Learning shifts need to incorporate essential 21st century skills Kivnja (2014) lists the skills in five domains:

traditional skills,

critical thinking and problem solving,

collaboration,

teamwork and leadership,

digital literacy. 

What are your thoughts on the questions I pose here? 

This blog is part of a series supporting my doctoral research.  I explore the nuance application of micro-credentials for professional development as part of my Doctoral project at Queensland University of Technology.

Your feedback or contribution to the topic is very welcome. What is your experience with micro-credentials? Are you a course developer? or been a participant?

Social Media Literacy: Essential for Creative Professionals

Creative professionals perform tasks difficult to scale or to automate and have been recognised in PwC (2018) report as pivotal to the future of work. My research of micro-influencers and  interviews with Australian Influencers revealed an intrinsic demand for creative professionals to have communication skills and knowledge in implementing and using SMP to establish social capital for the benefit of their career and is an attractive proposition for potential employers.  Yet individuals are not prepared for the challenges SMP presents (Lariscy et al. 2009; Macnamara 2010; McKinsey 2013; Novakovich et al. 2017).  Digital technologies are evolving and creating undeniable changes, as new segments emerge the competitive landscape for creative professionals is being redefined.  SMPs are reshaping the way creative professionals do business and interact with clients, networks and customers. The need to produce and curate an SMP identity has evolved and become an essential element of their daily lives but how do creative professionals stay relevant? In a 2018 report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development it is argued that

‘education can make the difference as to whether people embrace the challenges they are confronted with or whether they are defeated by them’ (OECD 2018).

The world is changing and will continue to change, old methods of sustaining a career as a creative professional are being superseded producing a fundamental need for a paradigm shift. According to Rosen (1983, page 48) digital disruption offers lower entry levels for creative professionals and argues that this has led to greater specialisation and division of labour requiring increased human capital investment. In the context of micro-influence scholars such as Abidin (2016) Duff (2016) and Senft (2013) refer to human capital investment as aspirational labour. An example is the fashion blogger as individuals invest hours into developing, implementing and constructing their SMP identities turning their personal lives into online businesses. A 2019 study of fashion bloggers by Brydges and Sjoholm (2019) highlights the changing spaces and temporalities of aspirational labour online.

Novakovich et al. (2017) highlights a profound lack of understanding regarding the potential SMP has in shaping a professionals journey and the role educators have in closing the gap. Educational scholarship recognises digital literacy as an essential skill and signifies an intrinsic need for scholastic discourse to evolve (Coldwell-Neilson and Cain 2019; Coldwell-Neilson 2017). Recent industry reports examining the impact of rapid technology change and new business models on employment argue the importance of digital literacy as a basic skill (literacy) for those entering the workforce  (Hajkowicz et al. 2016; Cunningham et al. 2016; Karanasios et al. 2019; Grand-Clement 2017; Business Council Australia 2018; Pearson et al. 2016; Adams Becker, S., et al. 2017).

The 2016 report Skills and capabilities for Australian enterprise innovation (Cunningham et al. 2016) investigates how skills are learned “to drive and sustain the development of new products and services that address innovation challenges and capture new markets and consumers”.  A report by Bakhshi et al. (2017) The future of skills: Employment in 2030 found a strong relationship between higher-order cognitive skills and future occupational demand. Lucas and Smith  (2018) found to cultivate digital skills in Australian education, capabilities need to remain a priority in education policy and planning. A 2019 report by Karanasios et al., (2019) for NCVER studied and reviewed digital skills frameworks acknowledges and addresses the gap for Australian workers. The report identified the present focus on improving digital skills is on “primary-secondary education or societal level rather than within the current workforce”.  We need to maintain support for and from well equipped educators, and with the provision of resources and guidance from curricula, frameworks and policies. 

Hase and Kenyon (2007) suggest educators need to change misconceptions and recognise the benefits SMP have to offer suggesting new pedagogical approaches that views “the learner as the major agent in their own learning”. Patsarika (2014) adds to the argument advocating for change in educational discourses from the student as client to students as participants in their learning.  Patsarika (2014)  implications of neoliberalism, has led to education becoming more mobile and moving towards the virtual classroom.  In 2007, Bruns (2007) identified the paradigm shift in user-generated content and knowledge sharing arguing traditional teacher centred learning may no longer have a future. He argues educational institutions must engage in produsage predicting the establishment of produage-based educational institutions.

Social Media takes many shapes and forms which raises a number of problems and issues that to date have not been clearly considered by educational institutions. Social media practices are voluntary, self-generated, skills are acquired informally, largely unregulated and characterised by play and experimentation (Barton and Lee 2012, page 283). Individuals use social media skills of their own volition in ways that suit them for their own purposes. In a study investigating students social media practices and identity for professional practice, Novakovick (2017) reported that in general students lacked agency on social networks and identified a gap knowledge and skills for professional social networking. It is also concerning to note that a Stanford University study (2016) found a lack of critical thinking and technical skills needed. 

Framing social media as literacy is an approach that can help to alleviate some of these problems for educators (Pozzi 2016) but creates an unprecedented and problematic educational environment when combined with current imposed rules, regulations, criteria and procedures of our institutions (Pozzi 2016).  Further, most skills and knowledge required for social media use are tacit, procedural and/or metacognitive and are best learned in a workplace environment rather than the decontextualise classroom (Bridgstock 2014).  My doctoral project establishes social media as an essential literacy for the 21st century and uses vernacular literacies and tacit knowledge concepts to help conceptualise some of the theoretical issues associated with social media capabilities.  During my interviews with Australian micro-influencers vernacular literacies and tacit knowledge were dominant in the processes and strategies of the participants. Literature supports this trend and suggests that future ready students exercise learner agency (OECD 2018) they prefer to learn informally, via communities as well as through reflective practice (2014; Grand-Clement 2017; Coldwell-Neilson and Cain 2019).

The question now is how can educators support creative practitioners to employ social media as a new literacy in a professional capacity?  The busy modern day professional who is self-determined will prioritise their time towards potential opportunities for career growth. They recognise that updating knowledge and skills is a prerequisite for a progressive career path.  The options for gaining skills and knowledge are endless, confusing and not always trustworthy. How does the creative professional choose what skills and knowledge they require? How can they be guaranteed return on investment to justify time away from potential earning? Who are the trusted providers that offer quality learning experiences with course content established for real world demands? Digital technologies have impacted how professionals can engage with new opportunities for learning so quickly that educational providers are still catching up, making the professional accountable for their learning experience and preferred mode of learning (Oliver 2019; Williams 2019). How can educators empower students to evaluate and determine their individual learning preferences?

What are your thoughts on the questions I pose here?  More answers to come.

This blog is part of a series supporting my doctoral research.  I explore the nuance application of micro-credentials for professional development as part of my Doctoral project at Queensland University of Technology.

Your feedback or contribution to the topic is very welcome. What is your experience with micro-credentials? Are you a course developer? or been a participant?

Micro-credentials – providing new professional development opportunities

The busy modern day professional prioritise their time towards potential opportunities for career growth. They consider updating knowledge and skills a prerequisite for a progressive career path.  The options for gaining skills and knowledge are endless, confusing and not always quality. So how does the creative professional firstly choose what skills and knowledge they require? Second, how can they be guaranteed return on investment to justify time away from potential earning? Third, what providers offer quality learning experiences with course content established for real world demands? And fourthly, digital technologies have impacted how professionals can engage with learning so quickly that educational providers are still catching up, making the professional accountable for their learning experience and preferred mode of learning. Micro-credentials have emerged as a viable option as professionals captain their own educational experiences and demand more relevant and flexible options, blurring the link between professional development and postgraduate study (James 2018).

Learning in a place or institution rather than online requires much more commitment on behalf of the learner. Investment is required by the professional by allocating time to travel and getting themselves to the classroom. The perception is that online learning requires less time investment and unusually only requires a learner to ensure they have their device to access online courses this is not true. Online learning requires the student to spend more time reading, writing and engaging with content than face-to-face learning. Although the time commitment between the two modes of learning are similar, online learning offers flexibility in time and place for learning. Technology is developing so quickly new modes of digital learning are being offered constantly.

Current trends point towards smaller online courses referred to as Micro-credentials and provide the learner with an opportunity to target specific learning goals or outcomes. They are usually competency based and are often more affordable, attainable and flexible. Also described as unbundling (McCowan 2017) micro-credentials have evolved through progressive technology improvements, workforce disruptions, high cost and loss of trust in university degrees. Milligan & Kennedy (2017) state “there are signs that trust is eroding in the utility of the degree”. Oliver (2019) argues that micro-credentials are emerging as a viable alternative to traditional educational institutions.  Several industry reports support this argument as a opportunity to improving Australia’s digital skills (Cunningham et al. 2016; Hajkowicz et al. 2016; Microsoft Australia 2018; Richardson and Milovidov 2017; deLaski 2019; Stewart, Katherine, Salil Gunashekar,…; Bridgstock 2014; Business Council of Australia 2016; Lucas and Smith 2018; Ferguson et al. 2019; Hasan Bakhshi Jonathan M. Downing Mic…; Siemens et al. 2015) .

In their working paper Gallagher and Maxwell (2019) argue that credentials need to respond to four growing trends and imperatives:

  • building competency and market-oriented programs,
  • structuring credentials to facilitate lifelong learning,
  • unbundling learning in traditional degrees, and
  • recognizing the need for quality assurance.

A report By Deakin University (Oliver 2019) adds to this argument and suggests that providers will achieve more by integrating with employers to offer on the job learning that is attached to internal recognition and incentive schemes (deLaski 2019).

 

This blog is the first in a series where I delve into the nuance application of micro-credentials for professional development as part of my Doctoral project at Queensland University of Technology.

Your feedback or contribution to the topic is very welcome. What is your experience with micro-credentials? Are you a course developer? or been a participant?

The possibilities of an effective digital marketing strategy are endless

The question is, now you’ve built it, will they come?

Technology is ever-evolving and being aware of all your options is the first step to being ahead of the trends in the digital space when it comes to communicating with your customers.

It’s all about getting the basics right. And once you have the basics right, there’s a whole spectrum of more sophisticated tactics you can employ to drive further success through e-marketing. The metrics show us that there’s plenty of room for improvement and plenty of rewards waiting for those who do improve and making those improvements.

It’s no exaggeration to describe digital marketing as a business revolution. For the first time, it gives businesses of any size access to the mass market at an affordable price and, unlike TV or print advertising, it allows truly personalised advertising.

Specific benefits of e-marketing are very similar to social media marketing and include:

  • Global reach – e-marketing allows you to find new markets and trade globally for only a small investment.
  • Lower cost – a properly planned and effectively targeted e-marketing campaign can reach the right customers at a much lower cost than traditional marketing methods.
  • Trackable, measurable results – web analytics and other online metric tools make it easier to establish how effective your campaign has been (you can obtain detailed information about how customers use your website or respond to your advertising).
  • Personalisation – if your customer database is linked to your website, then whenever someone visits the site, you can greet them with targeted offers.
  • Openness – by having a social media presence and managing it carefully, you can build customer loyalty and create a reputation for being easy to engage with.
  • Social currency – e-marketing lets you create engaging campaigns using different types of rich media. On the Internet, these campaigns can gain social currency, being passed from user to user and becoming viral.
  • Improved conversion rates – if you have a website, then your customers are only ever a few clicks away from completing a purchase. Unlike other media, which require people to get up and make a phone call, or go to a shop, e-marketing can be seamless and immediate.

Together, these aspects of e-marketing have the potential to add up to more sales.

Follow Lisa on Twitter or subscribe to her on Facebook. Find out more about Social Media Mastery or visit her website.  This blog is published by POMO – a creative agency specialising in customer engagement based in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, Queensland Australia.

Why is branding important?

Legend has it that the ancient Chinese emperors loved the number nine as it’s the highest single-digit number in base ten, believing that it stands for completeness and eternity. Which is quite symbolic as I put the final touches to the manuscript before uploading it to the Amazon bookstore.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Neale Donald Walsch

Or in other words, the finish line may not be where you think it is – an appropriate sentiment for the ninth and final book in the Social Media Mastery series. Social Media is constantly changing and adapting which will mean that my books will also need to change adapt and evolve.

As with Social Media technology, branding strategies are forever evolving and staying ahead of your competitors with a that reflects your business is critical to your success.  In some instances, effective branding is vital to the very survival of a business. In all instances, good branding is essential for any business to achieve its full potential. It is easy to think of marketing as merely placing ads. However, branding is broader than just advertising. Branding involves all of the ways in which you communicate with customers. Essentially, branding is presenting a message to customers and influencing customer perceptions. In fact, you are marketing whether you realise it or not. The question is: Are you communicating the right message?

Smaller businesses must take a more creative and coordinated approach to branding since limited budgets don’t permit spending large amounts on national TV commercials, aggressive ad campaigns, etc. In addition, most small businesses don’t have eccess resources to waste on ineffective branding. Therefore, smaller business owners must work to understand their customers, their business, and its strengths in order to craft an effective branding strategy.

Why is branding important?

All businesses need customers. Branding communicates with customers directly. It is the process by which a business attracts customers and generates sales. Branding involves retaining current customers and gaining exposure to new ones. It is important to understand that everything you do in your business relates to branding.

However, complete the series may be but completion isn’t so much an end to the subject, more a case of these nine books being the sum of all the parts that you’ll constantly review and apply in your use of social media. And evaluate, of course; because it’s the process of evaluation – which I’ve discussed several times throughout this and the other books – that will keep you ahead of your field, whether that be as a social media manager or not. Mastery of anything is a never-ending process whatever the field, but if you’ve made it to the end of this series, you’re well on your way to being a master of social media – congratulations!

Grab the set of nine workbooks from CreateSpace.

Follow Lisa on Twitter or subscribe to her newsletter at lisaharrison.com.au.

How to master inbound marketing using social media?

Mastering inbound marketing can be like solving a puzzle; but not because it’s confusing. It’s a puzzle in the sense that it’s made up of many different pieces – pieces that cannot stand on their own, but when put together, make total sense.

To truly succeed online, your business strategy needs to include all the pieces. The trick is to assemble those pieces into a structure in which they complement each other, interlock and net you a more complete and enduring business success.

One of the biggest pieces – and often the one that businesses struggle with – is successfully using social media for your marketing and branding.

I like to think of “digital branding” as the personality of a business through digital channels. A brand on its own has a character, a look, a tone of voice, a way of engaging, and a set of values that are being communicated. The question you should be asking yourself is, “How can I make my brand work digitally – how can I make it say the right things and how can I get it to speak to the right people and build the right relationships within this new context?”

The bottom line is that high-performing businesses focus their vision, processes and results on building long-term relationships with clients (keep in mind that clients can be individuals or other businesses). More and more, successful relationship-building is taking place online via social media.

If you want to learn more about this you can enrol in Lisa’s next intake of students for her Social Media Mastery course.

Social Media Mastery can be completed either as a professional development non-accredited course, or, if students also competently complete the associated assessment work for each unit within this course, you will gain the Nationally Recognised Qualification Certificate IV Business (BSB40212)

COURSE DETAILS AND STRUCTURE

click here

For more information about this course, please email upskillme@socialmediamastery.com.au

SOCIAL MEDIA MASTERY COURSE INFORMATION

Social Media Mastery course is designed for the person who sees the potential of engaging with consumers to build a community. You just need a very basic understanding on the fundamentals of social media such as Facebook.

Developed by social media entrepreneur Lisa Harrison, students will be taken step-by-step through the social media marketing landscape, and will learn how to:

  • Promote and grow their business using free online tools,
  • Boost sales and sell products and services online,
  • Create valuable long-term relationships with customers,
  • Build strong online communities,
  • Get feedback from these online communities to help refine and develop business ideas.
  • Just to name a few

WHO IS SOCIAL MEDIA MASTERY FOR?

With the progression, expansion and popularity of social networking sites, new media professions have been born such as the “social media manager” (SMM). SMM is just one of the new career opportunities arising in this new economy and you can read more about the skills needed to be a successful SMM here.

TESTIMONIALS

  • “Lisa has a great sense of the possibilities presented by social media and an enthusiastic ‘just do it’ approach that ensures students put their new skills to work straight away. She is also extremely generous with her time, knowledge and resources … and her classes are good fun.”Denise Cullen
  • “I thoroughly enjoyed Lisa’s workshops with Social Media Mastery, in 2012. Her passion, knowledge and delivery are second to none. Her generosity and creativity working with varying types of business owners made the course a pleasure, with many positive outcomes, bringing more clarity to planning clever marketing techniques for small business. Thank you so very much Lisa!”Nicole Armit, Head Foodie
  • “While the ultimate professional, Lisa is down-to-earth, engaging and approachable. She has that unique gift of being able to explain the complex in simple terms. I found her course in Social Media Mastery to be invaluable and would highly recommend Lisa to any small business owner wanting help in accessing the digital world.”Cath Hains, Website & Online Content Management Specialist
  • “The social media space can be complicated, Lisa is able to to explain this is a simple yet practical way. Social Media Mastery is perfect for beginners to those already involved in the the sector and would highly recommend it. Lisa’s knowledge and experience is displayed in every aspect and her passion is infectious.Thanks for all you assistance Lisa, it was a pleasure to be in your class!”Craig Montgomery, Marketing Manager
  • “Lisa provided a well-rounded, detailed and relevant course on marketing using social media using tools such as E-alerts, webpages, facebook, twitter and other tools. She was interesting, approachable and made learning fun. She respected and acknowledged all of the experience and knowledge in the room and allowed people to network and share really useful experiences and information. I would recommend Lisa for her courses and to assist you with marketing your business. She is friendly, intelligent, interesting and fun as a teacher.”Janis Meyers, Speech Language Pathologist

The course is delivered via a state of the art learning portal and monthly live online chats and brainstorming session to ensure you have the most current social media marketing and management strategies to achieve your personal and or business goals.

ABOUT LISA HARRISON

Lisa is the Digital Director and cofounder of POMO, a design and strategy firm based on the Sunshine Coast.

Lisa also works as a consultant with businesses helping them develop strategies, policies, guidelines and action plans for effectively using all types of digital communications in order to establish customer engagement. She has managed programs for such organisations as Birch Carroll and Coyle, The Royal National Association (Ekka), and is a speaker, facilitator, educator, researcher and blogger in social media. She was the winner of the Sunshine Coast Business Woman of the year in 2013 and a finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards the same year. Lisa is currently completing a Doctorate with QUT Digital Media Research Centre.

For more information about this course and to express interest in enrolment, please email upskillme@socialmediamastery.com.au

How Influential Individuals are Changing Social Media

Things aren’t always as peachy as they seem at the start. In fact, peach is not even a shape when we’re talking influencer strategy!

Unlike the real world where it pays to have an influencer with a tonne of contacts on your side, it turns out that content marketing is a little different.

The general consensuses with digital-driven marketing has been to track the total amount of reach and impressions to gauge effectiveness. This is traditionally where influencers claim their stakes. These people with a massive following are engaged to spread the word about a brand and get big bites in return.

Based on the reach of the post, businesses are usually quite chuffed with ‘strategy influencer’.

But recently, this method was placed under the microscope to measure real life impact – that is loyalty to the brand and actual sales. These influencer campaigns look impressive at the start, but what tangible results have they provided in the end?

A research project #OnlyConnect2018 – The Power of Brand Influencers, conducted by World Wide Worx, in conjunction with social intelligence platform Continuon, studied the content marketing efforts of 50 major brands and concluded that influencer marketing has a shape. Not a one-size-fits-all shape. In their research, this shape seemed to changed from brand to brand.

Continuon’s product manager, Richard Nischk, said they used the study to revisit the measurements of influence. Rather than take only reach and impressions on board, they put the whole project under a microscope to see what really affected consumer behaviour.

To redefine the measurements of influence, we took an approach that provides metrics that can be, in quantifiable manner, used to increase return on investment.

Reach is most certainly an important element of the equation. However, what really counts is having the ability to affect behaviour. In social media, this comes in the shape of sharing, engaging, interacting, tagging and gaining word of mouth from the people you reach”, Richard said.

An influencer algorithm was designed and used by Richard’s team to study the engagement types and behavioural data. The algorithm assigned a score out of one hundred to each influencer involved in a brand’s campaign, according to the brand-specific social media communities.

It was surmised that in respect to impact on brand loyalty, the most effective measure of social media influence was the power that an influencer had on extending conversations beyond the original post. Continuon say this velocity of social conversation and engagement can be measured exactly though three questions:

  1. When did the individual join the conversation, and what was the impact that the interaction had on the conversation?
  2. Did it reach and impact the right audience via the right channels, at the right time?
  3. Which individuals and groups of people were in control of this increase in velocity?

The score then assigned to each influencer is grouped into a segment. Each of these segments builds a shape and quality of a brand’s online community.

According to Richard, a score of 90 or over is genuinely rare. And he says that the common shape formed for each brand is similar to a pyramid.

The influencer segment pyramid

Most influencers are located at the bottom of these pyramids with a low score. These, according to Continuon, are called the Herd and Sharers.

Next up the pyramid you find Trendsetters. These influencers come in with scores of 40 to 60 and they start to have some actual influence. The top of the pyramid is made up of Lighthouses and Icons. Lighthouses have scores of 60 to 80, whilst Icons are the most priceless of the pack with their scores above 80.

Richard believes these pyramid shapes allow brands to determine the various levels of influence within their online communities.

“This enables brands to understand how each level can be leveraged to build an army of authentic brand influencers. Brands can drill down and get granular to understand every single person as an individual and what their individual score is. Now, from an impact point of view, influencer profiling can be granular, relevant and measurable within the social media universe”, he says.

The most valuable shape of influence is a basic pyramid. This demonstrates a sturdy base of Herd with a smaller number of Sharers just above. The pyramid then works up to a gradual point with fewer Trendsetters, followed by even fewer Lighthouses, and Icons as the most valuable sitting right at the tip.

However, perfect pyramids are rarely found. The majority of brands and businesses build more like a flat, shallow wall, with no Icons and only a limited number of Lighthouses. These strategies are flat in appearance and flat out having any real impact long-term.

Interestingly enough, their study found the industry that was most likely to have the largest number of Icons was the not-for-profit sector. Perhaps duly to fact many of these organisations encourage authentic connections and conversations through their non-commercial campaigns. These voices tend to have the greatest overarching power.

What have you done to measure the shape of your influencer strategy? Are your influencer campaigns offering real return on investment, or are they falling flat mid-construction?

Need help? Delve further into the shape of influence with our Social Media Mastery content marketing gurus discover your shape here.

What makes a great social media manager?

Don’t be mistaken: being a Social Media Manager for your business takes more than a few posts and a bit of witty banter.

When you take on social media marketing you need to be capable of turning your online audience into loyal customers who are willing to spend money with you or the time and effort isn’t worth it.

Have you got what it takes to succeed as a social media manager?

A business’s social media presence is the face of the organisation, and with over 11 million – 50 per cent – of the Australian population using Facebook to connect it’s a good business decision to make sure you are there to interact.

At Social Media Mastery we are huge proponents of educating and encouraging people to get online and learn what it’s all about for themselves, but we are also sticklers for approaching your social media marketing professionally, efficiently and with a results-driven strategy.

The skills and expertise required to generate business with longevity, from social media are complex. AND time consuming.

Think about this: Do you know your CTR from your ROI? Do you know what a good or bad bounce rate is? Do you have the ability to solve very public problems diplomatically? Do you want to engage in Pay Per Click advertising or stick to organic virality?

I’m not saying you can’t learn these things but do you have the time to learn them and do you have the natural flair for online communication and engagement to build your brand community?

Here’s a list of expertise and skills a professional social media manager should possess:

  1. Strong interpersonal and networking skills,
  2. Comfort with technology, knowledge of the organisation and empathy.
  3. Proven abilities in planning, strategy and project management.
  4. Clear understanding of analytics, the ability to set up effective campaign tracking, interpret social measurement and ROI calculation as well as a heavy dose of comfort with statistics and Excel.
  5. The ability to interpret this data and gain workable insights to make recommendations.
  6. Lots of creativity and personality (even the stuffiest brand needs to show some personality to succeed on social media).
  7. Excellent copy writing skills, experience and expertise with photography and graphics production.
  8. A good understanding of business objectives and the ability to craft effective calls to action.
  9. Experience in crafting effective campaigns for e-newsletters, blog writing, website moderation, podcasts and vlogs.

Learn how to do these things yourself or hire a social media manager

Start by enrolling in the Government accredited Social Media Mastery Certificate IV in Business . Check out the latest dates for Social Media Mastery or you can leave the implementation and management to us leaving you to get on with the stuff you know best – running your company.

Considering your social media and digital marketing may be the most revenue-centric hours anyone will spend in your company – can you afford to entrust something as important as your business’s social media communications to an inexperienced trainee?

Follow Lisa on Facebook. Find out more about Social Media Mastery  This blog is published by POMO – a creative agency specialising in customer engagement based in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, Queensland Australia.