Celebrity endorsements are part of most brands’ marketing strategies. For instance, actor Ranbir Kapoor endorses the Coca-Cola brand, while Salman Khan promotes PepsiCo. So when a Ranbir Kapoor fan sees him relishing a glass of Coke on Diwali, he or she may be inclined to buy the product.
Those who have the power to influence others and impact consumer trends or lifestyle choices are called opinion leaders. The role of opinion leaders is to influence but it isn’t only restricted to consumer behavior. New media have the power to sway public sentiment with the information they share. Similarly, politicians are prime examples of opinion leaders because they can influence the public with their exceptional speech and charisma.
Business leaders like Jeff Bezos, Ratan Tata and Elon Musk are also considered opinion leaders because their decisions affect the stock market and the investment landscape, sometimes globally.
Opinion Leaders and Social Media Influencers
Are social media influencers opinion leaders? To a certain extent, because many of them have hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers on social media. Most brands have expanded their marketing strategy to incorporate influencer marketing. This is because influencers tend to have a wide reach and direct engagement with the brand’s potential customers. Here are some examples:
The US-based beauty brand Glossier has built its entire brand image around social media engagements. The brand believes in communicating directly with customers online to understand their needs and preferences. They are big on influencer marketing, sending influencers new products pre-launch to identify areas for improvement, evaluate the feedback and make changes accordingly.
Daniel Wellington, a Swedish watch brand, broke into the Indian market solely based on influencer marketing. It sent watches to popular influencers with substantial numbers of followers on social media to promote the brand.
So, influencers can be considered opinion leaders because of the sheer number of followers they have. Even though opinion leaders need not operate on social media, having 2 million followers on Instagram is sure to have a positive impact on brand sales.
Characteristics Of Opinion Leaders
The role of opinion leaders is important as it can have a widespread impact. In fact, certain qualities are commonly observed in opinion leaders. Here are a few characteristics of opinion leaders:
Social Media Presence
Earlier, opinion leaders could do well without social media presence. But today, it’s difficult to influence people if you don’t have an online presence. This is one of the reasons why content creators and influencers engage with their followers regularly. If people can’t see you, they’re very likely to move on to the next big thing. So, you have to build a powerful social media profile to reach more people.
Active Participation In Social Issues
Opinion leaders need to understand the responsibility that comes with the power to influence thousands of people. To create impact, drive change and leave a positive imprint on the world as an opinion leader, you should take a stand and be vocal about social issues that you believe in—whether it’s child development, animal welfare or environmental issues.
Excellent Communication Skills
Every opinion leader has great communication skills—spoken or written. They can move their followers to take action with their words alone. They know how to convey their message, thoughts and opinions clearly and concisely. If you want to develop the qualities of an opinion leader, it’s important to improve your communication skills to engage with your audience.
You’ll find opinion leaders among friends and family. Many of us look up to an elder sibling or our parents or a relative. Remember how our parents taught us early on to make friends with the class topper? Class toppers can be considered rookie examples of opinion leaders. At work, it could be your manager or colleague whose knowledge is so impressive that you hang on to every word.
You can develop qualities to become an opinion leader in your personal and professional life. The ability to influence people is an important characteristic to help you become a better individual, a reliable team player and a trusted employee. Harappa Education’s Leading Self course will teach you how to become the best version of yourself. Learn from our expert faculty as they guide you through the process of realizing your full potential.
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