What Is A Social Agent?

Prospects buy from you.

Social Agents tell everyone to buy from you.

Social Agents are people that amplify your message by sharing your content. They introduce you to prospective customers—both offline and online. Social agents may never do business with you but they love recommending you to others.

What you probably don’t understand understand is that a prospect is an opportunity to make a single sale. But befriending a Social Agent creates an opportunity to make lots of sales.

Why Do You Need Social Agents?

Science also tells us that humans have a constraining factor in their ability to network. It’s called Dunbar’s Number and an evolutionary psychologist named Robin Dunbar developed it. Dunbar theorized that “this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size…. [T]he limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.” Dunbar’s research pegged this number at 148 (often rounded up to 150, for convenience). So according to Dunbar, you can maintain meaningful relationships with only 150 people at a time.

You might be thinking that social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ give you the ability to blow past Dunbar’s Number. A 2011 paper showed that although both Facebook and Twitter allow you to develop a network far in excess of Dunbar’s Number, the average Twitter user only interacts with between 100 and 200 people on a regular basis. And on Facebook, which allows up to 5,000 friends, the average person maintains contact with 190. So it seems that our biology, not our technology, drives our ability to network in a meaningful manner.

So unless you’re a huge company with a huge salesforce… you need Social Agents to scale effectively.

Social Agents Are Your Social Sales Force

Let’s expand on that idea of building a social sales force. Dunbar’s science is telling you that the only way you can effectively create a massive prospecting effort online or offline is to leverage your network. And that’s where the ability to build a social sales force powered by Social Agents can mean the difference between finding and missing an invisible sale.

Even better, you don’t pay these Social Agents to promote you, instead they promote you, your company, and its products and services just because they feel a sense of attachment to your company.

But how many prospects can your Social Agent powered salesforce “call on?” Let’s return to Dunbar’s Number to figure that out.

Dunbar’s Number tells us that each of those 150 people in your social network have 149 other people (assuming you’re included in their Dunbar’s Number) they can strike up a conversation with at any moment. Let’s also assume that each of the folks we’re talking about here has strong enough relationships with their circle that they can influence that circle to take certain actions. We could continue opening wider concentric circles, but I think after you see the math behind just the first- degree Social Agent prospecting database, you’ll want to think more about identifying your Social Agents.

150 of your contacts × 149 contacts for each person = 22,350 Possible Prospects

Notice, I called them “Possible Prospects” vs Prospects. There is a reason for that… not all of your 150 might truly be able or willing to serve as Social Agents and not all of their contacts are going to be qualified prospects for what you sell. But even if only 25% of your 150 relationships take up the Social Agent mantel and only 25% of their relationships are truly qualified prospects for what you sell, that’s over 1,400 qualified prospects for you or your company, that are just an introduction away. And we’re not even considering the Power Agents.

The Role of Power Agents

In today’s hyperconnected, social media-powered world, you don’t always need that agent to have a close relationship with another person to create that all-important introduction. Social Agents that are very active on social media networks and have established very large networks wield a great deal of online power. While they may not be able to maintain strong relationships with more than 150 people, they can maintain weaker, yet still persuasive, relationships with far more than 150 people.

Whether it’s something as general as a person asking for a restaurant recommendation or as specific as a person asking for opinions of one company versus another, these online selling moments are happening every day. And although the receiver of the recommendation might not have a personal or close relationship with your agent, that person might consider the agent’s opinion valuable and act on any recommendation provided. In fact, legions of companies are spending a lot of time and money trying to identify these kinds of Social Agents. They just don’t call them agents—they call them influencers.

The Difference Between a Social Agent and an Influencer

The key difference lies in motivation. Social Agents don’t just offer a network you can tap. No, the power of agents is that they want to help you tap their network. They want you to do well. They’re rooting for you—sometimes even if you’re the competition. Influencers on the  other hands are usually more concerned about financial reward or in learning how associating with you is going to help them.

That’s why it’s so important to investigate your network (offline and online) and begin identifying as many Social Agents as you can. Once you’ve done this, create a plan to empower those agents to sell on your behalf. Then execute.

Need Help Identifying and Activating Social Agents?

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