The Authentic Influencer

As I’m looking through my twitter feed waiting for ‘the social network’ to begin, I found a tweet that read ‘the nation could care less about #thesocialnetwork’. I was intrigued for more…CLICK: the full statement read, ‘the social network is doing really well on the east coast, the west coast and a little blip in Chicago, the rest of the nation could care less.’ facebook is used by 500 million people now, this is the business story that will be told for generations. Why is it not capturing more interest? This is something most use daily checking in as often as email.

The movie inspired me, as most others, to think, which I was really excited about. When I think about facebook, I see it’s success broken down to three areas:

Audience : In the beginning, College Students, a mass population of inquisitive people eager to learn and socially influenced.

Labor : User Generated Content, and guess what? It’s Free.

Distribution: Viral Sharing, spreading messages like disease.

The University

Young Bobby goes to school, he’s influenced by leaders in the classes he’s in, clubs he joins, ads he sees with people that look exactly like him, doing cool things. Is he a social influencer? Or a follower? The social influencers are those who may be looked at as ‘cool’ and popular within their own crowd or interest group. Some brands are even paying students to wear/use their brands on campus. If a college student is driven enough (and of course with an authentic social personality) they could probably sell themselves out to pay their entire tuition. But would you consider this authentic?

I’m not speaking that all social influencing going on on campus is bad. Here locally, let’s use Indiana University in Bloomington, IN as an example. I used to work for Upland Brewing Company. Great organization, great beer and a step up from the light beers on other universities reach. Pitcher night is apparently on Tuesday, never been. Do you know how I learned this? Down in Louisville, KY when I was wearing an Upland shirt. The gentleman that approached me at the local coffee shop had went to school there and of course had an emotional connection with the brand as it defined the best experience of his life. College Days! His emotional connection to this time in his life was so strong he wanted to tell me about it and not only that offer to help me expand Upland’s brand presence in Louisville. He gave me a good list of accounts he thought Upland would be a good fit at. (I sure followed up on that list and of course was grateful for his help.) This was only one experience of many with Upland. College grads are now an authentic street team as they leave campus and plant their roots in other communities.

How do you leverage these relationships? How does a company maintain a relationship with these fresh college grads? The answer will more than likely include facebook. Are you an influencer or a follower?

I’m noticing more and more business starting up around The University. Well, it works. What brands or examples can you think of with Authentic Street Team opportunities centered around brand loyalty?

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