Re-start at the bottom of the pyramid of influence on social media
There are many challenges that confront professionals and organizations that cause them to completely rethink their approach to social media in order to meet the expectations of their customers. To achieve success in social media, businesses should reconsider what they’re trying to achieve and how to establish a desirable online reputation. Evolving in social media involves an ineluctable path of learning, similar to the growth of knowledge from kindergarten to university.
Professionals, companies and organizations must learn to navigate safely in a new ecosystem where every gesture, every action is a form of fingerprint; where each word or words issued contribute to its digital DNA . Thereafter, because today’s consumers refer mostly to the recommendations of their peers than to ads, businesses and brands must adopt a new marketing approach more oriented to influence and conversation. The challenge they have to meet will involve networking, sharing and exchanges with the community, as well as identifying influencers and beginning conversations.
Depending on the context of a specific marketing campaign in which you may want involve social media influencers, it is important to identify who your ideal influencers would be. The pyramid of Maslow can help us better understand the evolution of users and influencers through their own progression in social media.
Hierarchy of needs by Maslow
Since 1943, the theory of the Maslow’s hierarchical pyramid of needs has been widely used, especially to better understand consumer behavior, but also, more recently, to describe the evolution of Internet users. I would suggest alluding to the newest version, inspired by the latest Web 2.0 versions, and various research (Rogers, AIMIA), which draws a parallel between the evolution of users (left), and influencers (right). This new pyramid of influence in social media can identify when, in the adoption curve and maturity of social media, influencers stand out. (Read also: The Five Levels of Maslow ‘s Hierarchy of Needs)
1 – Discovering a new ecosystem
Whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, early experiences are similar to the early days of pre-school education or young birds who learn to stand on their own and find a place in life.
In the early days, kids tend to stay in the corner, listening and observing. Gradually, as one grows and feels secure, he discovers his new environment and assimilates new rules. The shyest among them hesitate before joining a group, while leaders are already trying new toys, and beginning to make plans for the coming days.
At this level of the pyramid in our social media analogy, the most hesitant users already use email and do their initial research on sites like Google and Wikipedia, while influencers have opened accounts on major social networks, and are already thinking about the strategy they deploy to stand out.
2 – Leave the comfort zone
In elementary school, the situation has changed. We soon realized that just entered new territory with many older peers. This has some risks. Away from the nest, a novice can can be intimidated by the older, more experienced students in the school yard, and instinctively get closer to those whom seem be in similar situations.
This is the second level of the pyramid – when one begins to build a digital identity. While users first open a Facebook page and may not know where to start, the more mature users have established their policies on the use of social media ahead of time.
3 – The transition from adolescence
High school offers a wealth of new opportunities. We try to be more assertive in our community, and often take the initiative to issue opinions and engage in conversations. It’s a phase that occurs by sharing and networking, and by the pursuit of self-esteem and others.
This aligns with the third level of the pyramid influence. This is where influencers really stand out and begin to measure social capital. While “younger” sers are continuing to set up accounts, influencers are already ahead of the curve and have moved on to blogging as well as participating in various forums and online chats. This is the stage of versatility.
4 – Start doing its niche in the community
After high school, many transition to college, while others choose not to continue their education and go directly to the job market.
At the fourth level of the pyramid of social media, users have graduated to a level that carries a lot of professional influence. This may be the period when a user begins to assert their presence by publishing on Instagram and other newer platforms, and engage more openly with peers. Since their online footprint is now larger and they’re now touching more people online, their opinion starts to count for brands and businesses.
Social media influencers assert their authority online by publishing articles they’ve written, and taking on other online mediums, like offering podcasts. At this level, their influence is likely recognized.
5 – The self-realization and debut of new collaborations
Being in college is like the major leagues. Career goals emerge more specifically and collaborative projects get underway. This is the last step before one reaches and achieves their objectives in regard to education.
The fifth and ultimate level of the pyramid of influence in social media is when users are able to fully exercise their influence by publishing blogs and comments on social networks, while regularly attending and speaking at conferences and training workshops for organizations.
Ambassadors and influencers have reached the highest level of influence in social media at this point. This can come with perks like the media soliciting their views on major trends and they may be ask to write books or speak at universities.
With Power Comes Great Responsibility
Those who reach the highest level of leadership demonstrated their growth throughout the course of their progress in social media by publishing quality content and engaging with their communities.
At this stage, they can use their influence for the greater social and hopefully find ways to give back to their communities and to share their knowledge. This is when they will really have achieved their mission.
What do you think? Do you believe that influencers have a social responsibility? What is your relationship with influencers in your community? Feel free to share your comments and opinions with our readers.