By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
Here’s a powerful secret sauce that social media pros use to make a mega-splash. Social influencers magnify and extend the typical reach.
A hospital, health system or a premier doctor group, isn’t going to dominate the market by doing what everyone else does. Successful providers and organizations have an in-house leader, marketing person or team that knows how to think bigger, be more effective and be more aggressive than the competition.
Defining Social Influencers…
A website…or a blog…or social media content…or these and other Internet marketing tools form the basics. With some devotion and persistence, a healthcare entity can build around its target audience. And—over time—your online presence, your authoritative reputation and marketing dynamics bring new patients and other results. All too often, the program stops there.
Reaching the next rung in the ladder of success means going a big step further. Social Influencers are the springboard…the extra leverage…the overdrive connection for more power and effectiveness. An exact definition can be elusive, but…
An influencer (or influencers) is a recognized authority, has credibility or thought-leadership in a particular subject area, business or industry. These individuals or small groups have an established influence ON others, and their decisions, directions and/or advice are persuasive with the audience. Hence, the original message is endorsed and magnified with the target audience. Ultimately, influencers are valuable to extending reach and influence.
Why influence is power…
Influencers are, in effect, a personification of the common marketing tenant of social proof. Sometimes called “informational social influence,” social proof is the phenomenon where individuals will take the same course as others in order to feel that they are doing the right thing. And, if that audience finds that an authoritative source is taking or recommending a course or decision—expert influence—it encourages them to do the same thing.
The testimonial of a single person often has some clout, but the support or endorsement of an expert (influencer) has significantly greater power. About 90 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations, and better than 70 percent of Millennial consumers are likely to buy because of social referrals.
Influencers don’t appear magically…
Although some experts are almost universally recognized, many, if not most influencers are deliberately self-created. They have deliberately focused their time, attention and proactive voice on a specific topic or subject.
To extend your “social splash,” you can find and work with existing influencers. Or, in some instances, a social entity has proactively created its own center of influence around a particular idea. By either channel, the benefit is in creating leverage and extending your marketing message. An effective influencer is a recognized authority, thought leader and expert on a specific topic; who also:
- Concentrates on a select number of social media channels
- Continues to expand their audience or circle of influence
- Creates compelling, actionable and meaningful content
- Has a measurable and growing number of followers
- Presents sharable information of value, often with a unique perspective
- Proactively connects with other noted authoritative voices
- Provides persuasive, useful and positive solutions to problems
- Willingly promotes self and content to expand the audience
Surveys reveal that, among the social media options, Facebook (FB) is undisputed as the single largest and most influential channel. That said, FB is not the only social option and some audience groups may gravitate to other platforms.
Now, as never before, the Internet provides a window for the consumer to find and evaluate hospitals, doctors and other professionals. This means that the Internet is a research resource for health information, as well as a powerful influence in the consumer’s decision and selection process.
The consumer public is increasingly better informed about facilities, providers, and the competition. And the online information provided by specifically by influencers and fellow patients strongly directs the actions and next-steps of consumers. Influencers stand out as a primary and significant guidepost for consumer purchase decisions.