Have you heard of Niche Influencers before? You probably know one, you might even be one! As a marketer, I heart niche influencers. A lot.
My first contact with some real-life niche influencers was through my husband. At first, when he told me he was heading out one night to a warehouse to meet “some guys from Twitter,” it felt like the start of an episode of SVU. But it was nothing like that and since then I’ve been welcomed, by proxy, into the world of Melbourne craft beer enthusiasts on Twitter. It’s bigger than I thought it would be, highly networked, and very active. It’s a perfect example of Seth Godin’s tribes and as a social media professional and a wanna be anthropologist, it’s fascinating.
This community has some pretty powerful niche influencers, or for the craft beer industry, RELEVANT influencers. I was surprised to find beer drinkers so active and organized online! What makes them tribe like is that they WANT to hear about beer and talk about beer. You don’t have to push your message on them. Interact with them effectively and you have your evangelists. This community is the first to snap up newly released beer, and they don’t just drink it – they Tweet it, ‘tap it’, blog it, Facebook it. Their recommendations are respected by their friends and followers. Sharing a house with one of these beervangelists, I can confirm that this influence extends offline - requests for beer tips are emailed, texted and phoned in. Lach is asked about the best beers for weddings, beer for people who don’t like beer, and for gift ideas from loving but beer-challenged spouses.
One of the strengths of this community is that it extends beyond the internet. Social networks like Facebook are usually all about existing relationships, doing little to grow your network of friends. Tribes like these and there chosen social networks, show the exception to this rule. They demonstrate how social media can forge new friendships strengthened and sustained by offline meet-ups.
Niche influencers and tribes are not a phenomenon restricted to beer. I see the crafty ones pinning away on Pinterest and selling and buying on Etsy, the photographers on Google +, parents with family food allergies sharing recipes on blogs and forums, and pigeon fanciers setting up groups on Facebook. <You know you want to click!
So how do brewers, pubs and bottle shops connect with this ‘tribe’ and how can other (non-beer) brands tap into their own niche influencers? Two tips from me:
1) Keep it personal. These influencers are a community, and the best chance to influence them is to be part of that community. If you’re a brand this means revealing the credible voice behind your brand. Brewers tweeting get gold stars, but someone else Tweeting is ok, as long as they can matchknowledge and the passion of the community. Some super savvy beer brands have followed the lead of ABCs unearthed and hired from within the community, getting advice and smarts from the likes of @beergirlbites. You will get the most from a community if you are a trusted member of it!
2) Focus on experiences and help them build their name. No one’s paying these influencers to tweet about beer (at least not in money). They are passionate about it! Give them the news and tasting opportunities first. Give them access to exclusive events. Give them opportunities to meet you and ask you questions. You will be rewarded with a storm of social media, seen by the people who care about your product. Within the beer community I’ve seen long-term relationships established between breweries, pubs and the beer twitterati.
You can find your niche influencers pretty easily, by looking at who’s tweeting/blogging about your industry, checking followers and Klout scores or getting in touch with an outfit like @getlittlebird. Once you find them, you can focus on your niche influencers – reaching your audience through trusted intermediaries. I love it!
Just in case you came to this blog looking for beer, you can find pretty nifty list of Aussie beer folk here.