Image courtesy of TapInfluence
Maybe you read the title and asked yourself, “what is influence marketing?” and “why should I do it”?
So, to answer your questions, at least to begin answering them, here’s a quote from Brian Solis, author of the new report, The Influencer Marketing Manifesto, which is the basis for the infographic at the end of this post:
Influencer Marketing is now part of the everyday marketing mix. It’s the next evolution of social media marketing. Influencer Marketing helps brands become more human by connecting them with consumers through authentic storytelling.
Marketers view authentic storytelling as the most important aspect of Influencer Marketing. Influencers believe that it’s an honest and authentic voice that keeps their audience engaged (71%).
In his report, Solis studied influence marketing, primarily from the perspective of the influencers, but also from firms already doing influence marketing.
After reading today’s discussion, you should understand:
- What influence marketing is and what it isn’t
- How influence marketing improves your ROI
- How to do influence marketing effectively
So, let’s dive in.
What is influence marketing?
In this slideshow, you’ll learn a lot about influence marketing and where it came from.
They define influence marketing as:
the practice of identifying and building relationships with individuals who have influence over a target audience of buyers … influencers may be third parties, such as blogger, journalists, industry analysts, academics, or public figures.
Put another way, influencer marketing is simply promoting word of mouth from folks who already have an engaged audience who consider their opinions valuable.
How does influence marketing improve your ROI?
That’s an easy one;
- Influencers create awareness — they promote your brand among members of your target audience, which amplifies your message to the very folks most likely to buy your brand.
- Influencers contribute credibility to your brand and its claims.
Influencers promote awareness
Take a look at the conversion funnel to the left. It demonstrates how potential buyers reach the decision to buy your brand. Notice, that awareness is the first, critical step in the process. Without awareness, you can’t sell your product. The old adage, “if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door” is hogwash — at least in today’s world where consumers are inundated with possible options to satisfy their needs.
By sharing your message, influencers amplify it — allowing you to reach many more people than ever before.
Influencers with larger and/or more engaged audiences have much greater potential for amplifying your message.
Influencers create credibility
We’re a very jaded society. We’ve seen commercial advertising since we were tiny tots and, over the years, we’ve learned that these advertisers sometimes (often) lie to us. If nothing else, they exaggerate the truth and minimize their failures. We just don’t trust them.
But, we do trust influencers — at least for the most part. A study by Rob Kozinets showed that influencers lose their credibility if they get rewarded for making recommendations. In his study, if readers discovered a blogger got a free camera in exchange for making a good recommendation, they no longer believed anything the blogger said.
In marketing, we talk about decommoditizing the relationship. That means we take a basic economic exchange and transform it to a social exchange. So, the trick to getting the most from influencers is to build relationships not based on monetary exchange, but based on reciprocity, liking, and other tools of influence.
Solis’s study confirms this. Both marketers and influencers find the greatest value in authentic storytelling meaning that the influencer shares information that is honest, open, and entertaining.
How to do influence marketing effectively
Find appropriate influencers
Marketers admit the biggest challenge to doing influencer marketing effectively is finding appropriate influencers.
Nearly every day, a brand reaches out to me asking that I share, review, or otherwise mention their brand on this blog because they recognize I am an influencer in this space. Not only do I have thousands of readers on my blog and an engaged social community of my own, but much of my content is syndicated on Business2Community, which seriously amplifies the reach of my original post. Most requests I delete, a few I read, but I only actually share a small fraction of the requests I receive.
I’m sure it’s the same with other influencers.
Marketers can either approach finding influencers as a numbers game by reaching out to lots of influencers in the hopes of getting a mention from a few
Building reciprocal relationships with influencers that increase the likelihood that the influencer will mention your brand.
My money is on the second option.
To clarify, I don’t expect brands to pay me for my comments about their brand — although a small honorarium is always appreciated.
I DO expect that the relationship is a tit-for-tat one. If you want me to do something for you, do something for me.
- Give me access to your product for free or at a discount
- Give me proprietary information about your brand such as pre-release or custom info. I especially respond well when you offer a piece of content that matches my target reader and meets my editorial guidelines. Crafting fresh content is expensive and time-consuming. Help me out and I’ll help you out.
- Help me reach my goals by helping me build my audience. Share, like, comment on my stuff, join my social networks and do the same there …
And, in his study, most of Solis’s influencer respondents feel the same way I do. Although many influencers have different motivation — they became an influencer for the money it would bring in. Again, I think this is somewhat dangerous as you can easily destroy the influencer’s value by paying them.
This goes without say, but I said it anyway. ALWAYS monitor performance of any tactic you’re using and optimize based on your results.
Manage your influencer community
And, it is a community. Don’t just reach out to influencers and expect something. Do something for them, preferably first (such as joining their social communities, sharing their posts) and keep on doing it.
But, don’t over manage your influencers by exerting too much control over what they do — what they say, when they publish, etc. That’s the kiss of death for influence marketing, as show in the study.
Don’t over-communicate. Influencers are busy people.
Here are some of my own pet peeves:
If you sent me something you wanted me to share, don’t send a follow-up email the next day. Maybe wait a week, then send a gentle reminder. Don’t bombard me with emails.
Current notions say you should send an email asking an influencer if they’d like to get your content rather than just sending out content. Personally, I don’t like that. If you’ve got something you want me to share, review, etc, send it to me so I can determine whether I want to use it.
Give me everything I need, don’t force me to ask you for more information and DON’T ask me to change a post after it’s published. If you want me to use a specific link or image, send them to me in the original email, don’t make me ask. If you have certain preferred ways of communicating your brand value or other parts of your preferred brand image, give them to me.
I DON’T want to talk to your CEO unless he/she is a household name with my readers.
OK, enough ranting for today.
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