Neil DeGrasse Tyson saw “Gravity,” is a scientifically-correct Negative Nancy. Also, I read mom blogs.

Sunday, 13 October 2013 § 0

Ok, just to clarify, he “enjoyed Gravity very much.” And maybe peddling back, if you don’t know who NDGT is, he’s an astrophysicist, who is also a hilarious twitter user (1.4M followers!), and is also is the Enrique Iglesias of the nerd community. Just listen to him talk about time and space: *swoon* 

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s talk about NDGT’s night-long ramble. As a prominent figure in the science/nerd/sci-fi entertainment world, NDGT is an influencer. Did his “Mysteries of #Gravity” series affect the box office? Probably not, but that’s not the point. Influencers are influencers for a reason. They have formed trusted relationships with their communities because they are authentic human beings with an opinion and will tell you whether or not they like something.

When firms approach influencers to promote their products, that’s a different story. If the product or service doesn’t align with the influencer’s brand identity, the authenticity of their voice is dampened. People don’t want to listen to a spokesperson who’s going to tell you everything is awesome. They want a pros and cons list. This is why the “Sponsor Approach” (as explained in the “How to Design Communities” article) is so important to consider when reaching out to influencers. The company takes the back seat in this approach and observes, responds to comments, and provides informational content and advice. But their brand presence is minimal.

Take mom blogs, for example. I read mom blogs daily (weekends are the worst because mom blogs don’t get updated) and I’m not even a mom. Why? Because I trust their opinions. After all, (someone else’s) mom knows best.

Mom blogs like A Cup of Jo often have discount codes for online clothing shops or contests for gift cards to small companies. The only thing readers have to do is comment about what they would buy from the store or what they like. And while they’re doing that, companies like ASOS, Everlane, and smaller companies like The Honest Company and Terrain get direct feedback from their target mom demographic (and not-mom 22 year-olds like me) about what they like. A symbiotic relationship with no in-your-face advertising!

The opinions of influencers feel genuine because these relationships feel more like advice from a friend rather than a paid celebrity endorsement. However, this can also harm a brand if the influencer is posting negative content. Firms that don’t approach them to correct their negative content will end up having to deal with a festering brand wound. The way I see it, approaching (or improving relationships with) key influencers can be an excellent catalyst for generating meaningful conversations with consumers.

And for the record, NDGT had a lot to say about the things “Gravity” got right.
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