This is a guest post from Spike Jones — Group Director of Engagement at WCG and co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.
Irony can be very entertaining… especially in the social media fishbowl. On one hand, we hear the social media kids shouting from the rooftops that it’s all about one-on-one conversations. How it’s high-touch. How pushing out messages from the top-down is no longer effective. It’s about grassroots and bottom-up now.
And then they tell you to reach out to influencers.
Do you see the irony here? You reach out to influencers in hopes that they’ll broadcast the message to their audience (we’ve talked about before). Which, you know, reeks of top-down marketing.
When it comes to building communities or ambassador programs, both ways — top down and bottom up — can be effective. But here’s where it gets interesting. We will use influencers to broadcast that we’re looking for a specific type of person — and one of the qualifiers IS NOT which social sites they are on or how many followers/friends they have. The main qualifiers are based on passion. That’s the core that we’re looking for. And believe it or not, most of the time those good folks are what us marketers would refer to as “the bottom” when it comes to influence and status on social media.
So it takes both. But instead of starting at the top and hoping that your message gets pushed down, or starting at the bottom and hoping something magical will happen, you need start at both ends and meet in the middle. It might be counter-intuitive, but it works.