Building and establishing a following for your business is about more than posting on social media and interacting with followers. The word “influencer” gets used frequently, but the reality is that people who are popular on social media are only one type of influencer that can influence your business and its ability to attract followers. The network itself is just as important.
If you want to build a name for your company, you have to pay attention to your network. We live in an information revolution. Much like the industrial revolution that changed the way goods were produced, this information revolution is changing how trends are produced. Today’s networks have complex connections that carry long-term implications. Your company needs to understand these nuances in order to attract meaningful connections that you can leverage into increased brand awareness and ultimately sales.
The first hurdle is to understand the structure of the networks in which your company operates. Your company needs to pay attention to the structure your network prefers and adapt its strategies to meet that group head-on.
Each network has its own set of slang, trends, taboos, and tendencies. There are certain ways that members of the network like to communicate — and ways they do not. This could manifest as the frequency of emails they receive from favorite brands, the type of content they like to see on social media channels, and the types of interactions they like to have with companies (e.g. phone support vs. live chat).
Context is Everything
Another issue is the issue of context or culture, both within the country in which your company operates and the individual networks in which your followers participate. Simply paying attention to the language your network uses would be like trying to assimilate in a new country by only learning the language. In that case, being bicultural is just as, if not more, important.
In order to build a following, your company will need to understand its network’s culture and operate accordingly. Research what your network values most and how your company delivers products or services that fulfills those needs.
Finally, there is another consideration — other networks. Together, they form connected systems. From voters to people who prefer to use bitcoin, residents of Los Angeles, and frequent travelers, each of these groups are connected to other groups. Those connections can have far reaching implications within existing networks because they are connected in a variety of different ways.
The resulting connected systems are continually updating each other. Much like a trending topic in social media, there are trends that infiltrate several different networks and rise past them by leveraging the connected system as a whole instead of separate networks. In “The Seventh Sense,” author and co-CEO of Kissinger Associates Joshua Cooper Ramo says that understanding these connections is the “seventh sense” and that having that ability is a major success factor in modern business.
By leveraging connected systems, you are essentially using network science to build your company’s following. Start by looking at the networks with which your company is involved and consider the role your company can play in those systems. Next, consider how those individual networks are structured and the culture of each one. It will give you insight into the necessary context of your interactions. Then, take it a step further. Look at how those networks are connected. The systems they form create valuable footholds for delivering your company’s message and vision.