Move over GRE and NPTE, there’s a new career impacting score that demands your attention. Your online influence. Websites, like Klout and Kred, are now in the business of assigning a number to your social media usage. In turn, marketers are using these ratings to gain attention from social media’s elite, often rewarding them quite well, from free plane tickets to VIP passes into Las Vegas nightclubs.
If you’re suddenly having flashbacks to the popularity contest that was high school, you aren’t alone. Many consumers and even industry insiders have spoken out against these scoring systems, claiming they only benefit advertisers. While no one in our office would say no to an all expenses paid trip to Sin City, this is not why we think you should be paying attention to online scoring systems. What measuring online influence really boils down to is how findable and approachable you are online. This is how you acquire loyal advocates, whether they be colleagues or patients singing your praises. And the good news is, now is just the time to make your mark.
Social Media, The Great Equalizer
Mark Shaffer, author of Return on Influence and self-proclaimed influence obsessive, has been quoted in the New York Times and featured on MSNBC as a marketing expert. This wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, he says, you would have never heard of Mark Shaffer. What changed? Just one thing: “I am able to create, and move, my content.”
Before the internet, it was obviously very difficult to achieve a level of celebrity where people knew your name. With a limited number of ways to get to a broad audience, buzz was reserved for actors, politicians, sports stars and the scandalously newsworthy.
Enter social media.
“I might influence my family, maybe some business colleagues, and that’s about it,” Schaffer explains. “But give me a blog and a Twitter account and I have people from all over the world telling me that I have impacted them. That is a situation that could only have happened at this precise moment in human history!”
Quite a powerful statement. Remember too that the use of social media is free, so the barrier to entry is practically non-existence. This means that anyone truly has the chance to become an influencer online.
The Rise of Thought Leadership
The problem with everyone being able to jump in the influence pool? It’s crowded. As Forbes contributors Russ Alan Prince and Bruce Rogers explain in “Marketing the Medical Practice“, the competition is particularly fierce in the medical industry. An aging population, more approachable insurance plans and innovative treatments have all contributed to an increased demand for medical care. Coupled with the availability of information online, patients are more empowered than ever to chose where and from whom they receive care, meaning marketing is now a big part of medicine.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to try to stand out from the entire crowd, rather the opposite. Physicians are beginning to look to a “thought leadership marketing model,” proving their expertise in niche areas. As the article explains, WorldClinic has gone so far as exposing proprietary information to prove their prowess.
We are increasingly moving to a culture where what school you went to or where you practice can be outweighed by demonstrated expertise. And you don’t have to buy a billboard to get the message across. Content is the new currency of influence. As Mr. Shaffer puts it, “all you have to do is write about your favorite topic and you can have your chance to be a little bit famous.”
Favorite is critical. Favorite means something you’re passionate about, thus easy to discuss and dig deeply into. These are things you truly care about. Influence is earned through authenticity and rewarded highly by consumers. According to statistics collected by Brand Advocate Platform, Zuberance, Facebook reports a single post shared only 3 times can reach 10,000 people. In addition, 94% of consumers trust peer recommendations but only 24 percent trust ads according to Nielsen.