The Influence Pyramid is a conceptual framework for building outreach strategies to communities online and off. It helps you define a methodology and an architecture to target your content and media efforts. The Influence Pyramid is designed to help you dissect and understand your community.
The Influence Pyramid
This pyramid is built from a brand’s perspective. Imagine for a minute that you’re a CMO for a major consumer or B-to-B brand. Today, much of your budget, time, effort and energy is spent speaking from the top of the pyramid directly to the bottom of the pyramid. For example, you might place an advertisement in a consumer publication or a trade mag designed to motivate potential consumers of your product to make a purchase. In today’s world, the Influence Pyramid helps stratify the universe that actually manifests itself between you and the consumer. There are two, very important layers, between your brand and the consumer today.
The Digital Influencer
The tier directly below your brand we call “The Digital Influencer.” Digital Influencers make up a very small portion of your audience, however, they are the most powerful and, yes, influential portion of the marketplace. Digital Influencers create content. They may be influential bloggers or even members of the press. They are active in your community, speaking at events, attending trade shows creating podcasts or video blogging. The Digital Influencers consume all of your content. Every little drop. Why? Because they must follow your every move to remain credible in the marketplace. The Digital Influencers are thought-leaders. These are the ‘rock stars’ in your space. You can probably think of one or two Digital Influencers right now.
Digital Influencers in any market make up less than one percent of your entire market, however, they probably contribute heavily to the perception of your brand in the marketplace. We refer to Digital Influencers as the ‘Leaders’ in the market. They lead forum discussions online. They may even run a forum or an association. They host panel discussions at events and network with the best in the business.
Right now, make a list of three or four digital influencers in your marketplace.
Below the Digital Influencer is a small community of, what we call, Prosumers. Prosumers make up about 6-7% of the entire market for your products or services. These community members are very active in the community meaning the post questions on forums and enter contests and competitions. They generate content on an infrequent basis on third-party platforms. Prosumers are the inspiration for much of the content generated today by the Digital Influencers. Prosumers write reviews of products on Amazon.com. They write letters to the editors of magazines and online publications. They comment on blog posts. The best place to find active Prosumers is on the platforms that Digital Influencers create, manage or participate on.
The Prosumer seeds much of the discussion around any product, service, problem or market trend. In fact, many Prosumers end up being the next generation of Digital Influencers. Prosumers look to today’s Digital Influencers to help them curate the steady flow of information and content. They are looking to the marketplace for the right information to consume. They may not have the time to consume everything in the marketplace but they will consume the relevant information compiled, contextualized and created by the Digital Influencers they respect.
Right now, find three Prosumers from the comment sections of the Digital Influencers in your market. Follow them on Twitter, see what they post on forums and in LinkedIn or Facebook communities. Start watching what these members of your community are talking about, doing and reading.
The bulk of your marketplace can’t afford the time or effort required to consume all the information and insight you, as a brand, deliver to the marketplace. That means they are extremely transient. When they are interested in your product or service they consume the content created by you, Digital Influencers and Prosumers when they are enticed to make a purchase decision. Think about the last time you started researching the purchase of a new product or service. What did you do?
You probably created a consideration set of products you were interested in researching. You checked the brand’s website. You read any experts (Digital Influencers) in the community’s reviews and recommendations. You spent some time trolling forums or discussion groups related to the product you were interested in buying. Maybe you even asked for insight on Twitter or Facebook. However, at the end of the day you made a decision, purchased your product and moved on. Consumers make up the bulk of your business, however, they aren’t the ones that actually move the market.
Right now, take some time to act like a consumer. Walk through the research and recommendation process as only a content consumer would. Where do you end up? Who do you end up trusting and respecting? Map this process and start engaging in the communities (Prosumers) and on the platforms where your Digital Influencers create, distribute and promote content.
Consumers (for the most part) read content. They very rarely generate it. As soon as a consumer writes a review of your product or service they become Prosumers. It’s your job to keep them engaged.
The Brand Journalist
This brings us full circle to the top of the influence pyramid and the role of the Brand Journalist. The Brand Jouranlist is your opportunity to deliver frequent, relevant, high-quality content to the marketplace. However, you must start generating content designed to target the Digital Influencers in the marketplace. What insight, information and ideas can you share with the Digital Influencer that will entice them to engage with and create content about or with your brand?
Right now, find a hole in the content your Digital Influencers’ are creating. Perhaps they don’t have access to some research you’ve conducted. Immediately, create some content designed and written for your Digital Influencers and personally let them know you’ve posted it online. Watch what happens and let us know.
Harnessing the power of the Influence Pyramid
Use the Influence Pyramid to help communicate the strata of your online and offline world internally with your marketing and communications team. Build your social media strategy and your editorial calendar around the influencers in the marketplace and the prosumers’ demand for a constant stream of content. You’ll be glad you did.