There once was a time when we knew who to trust. We knew the organisations and people. We knew the media and channels. And we even knew the professionals. I can remember the awe and esteem my Nan bestowed on her slightly dodgy and doddery GP. His word was gold. So was media personality, John Laws.
But times change and so too does our sense of trust.
In a matter of a few decades, we have seen trust in our institutions, professions and media dissipate. We are more distrustful and even fearful of those people and institutions we once felt secure and supported by.
Interestingly, as these institutions faded, they were replaced with digital versions of themselves. Just look at the media. Brands. Government. Professions. But in the process of digitising, we have also shifted our trust to those organisations and companies which deliver these digital services. Think about Google. Apple. Microsoft. Even Facebook with whom we share our most personal of information.
In this shift to digital, we are all now more aware of the process of influence, building trust and activating networks. We are more aware because the tools to do so are in our own hands. We have “personal brands”, see ourselves as our own mini media networks, and wield our online influence remorselessly.
While many marketers and many individuals have embraced this approach – many still have not. And companies, businesses and governments continue to be left in the digital dust. But there are ways of understanding this new media landscape and the influencers which inhabit it.
David Armano has put together a neat diagram showing the three styles of influencers:
- Cultural – celebrities and those who have sway over lifestyle decisions
- Media – journalists and bloggers along with media companies who can still set trends and direct our attention around topics
- Reputational – employees, thought leaders and subject matter experts.
Understanding where and how influence flows between these groups can help direct strategy, focus and attention. As well as budgets. Because let’s face it, it might be nice for some influencers to work for exposure, but if you want them to work hard for your messaging and your brand, the investment will be worth it.