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Why More and More Brands Care About Influencer Marketing

Marketing

Influencer marketing continues to increase in attention and some say that it is one of the biggest things we will see in marketing for 2014. In order for that to make sense of it, let’s take a step back and examine what is influencer marketing and why is it important.

Why we care about Influencer Marketing

Consumers have already allocated 100% of their attention. On top of that, they have hundreds of things competing for even a sliver of that attention. We are overloaded with information, notifications, ads, devices, status updates and apps. The competition for a user’s attention has never been higher.

Advertising and mass marketing have been the primary focus of brands since the 1950s. The general idea being that if you put a piece of content in front of enough people, enough times, some of them will respond. In the most competitive landscape for users we have ever seen this is a very inefficient approach. Brands are relying heavily two things:

  1. Producing compelling enough content so that users allocate some of their attention to that content and hopefully take an action.
  2. Placing that content in a place where it will be seen by the maximum number of people who are interested in this subject.

What brands are finding is that the conversion rates on these broadcast messages are not meeting their business demands at the cost they want.

Word of mouth has always been the holy grail of advertising

Word of mouth on a social platform gives word of mouth powerful scale. Brands are pumping out more and more content hoping they get a hit but distribution is the other part of that equation, which is why they are searching for influencers. The challenge has been finding a way to predict who will be able to move that content via word of mouth at scale tomorrow rather than just having the ability to broadcast it to a bunch of followers.

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The Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report continues to support this year after year.

The #1 form of advertising that drives 84% of people to trust and 84% of people to act is recommendations from people they know.

What is an influencer?

Everyone loves to site the stat from Nielsen above. It is a great stat but there is a key point that needs to be called out. ItWhy More and More Brands Care About Influencer Marketing image Balls refers to recommendations from people they KNOW. Knowing someone is not the same as knowing OF someone. When you KNOW someone it means there is a relationship with another person where you can decide if you trust them and act on what they say.

Relationships are formed within a context

If you and I talk about influencer marketing every day, we build that relationship over time. If we stop talking that relationship starts to decline. If I call you and start giving you parenting advice tomorrow you are going to think I’m nuts. That is not the context of our relationship.

If you and I talk about influencer marketing every day, we build that relationship over time. If we stop talking that relationship starts to decline. If I call you and start giving you parenting advice tomorrow you are going to think I’m nuts. That is not the context of our relationship.

I know OF a ton of people. I follow 3,000 people I know of on Twitter, but there is a much smaller subset that I know well enough within any context to trust and act on.

Numbers don’t matter

What an influencer is NOT is the person with the most followers – this is someone with tons of people know OF but not necessarily know. This does not exclude people will high follower counts from being influencers but it does not make them one by default. This model is still focused on potential impressions as the mass marketing model above except it is narrowing the pool based on a subject or person.

Relationships do matter

An influencer is someone who you trust enough to listen to, consume what they have to say on a subject and potentially act on, whether that be shaping your perception on a topic or responding to a call-to-action. This changes from subject to subject and the level of trust you have will someone is dynamic over time based on our interactions. Influencers are those people who when they speak their messages travel via word of mouth at scale. This is not based on one piece of content that happened to hit the mark but rather based on all of the relationships that form around that person and beyond that build a community.

When brands can get this right, they can generate word of mouth at scale. This is the most powerful form of marketing and drives to the heart of people trusting and acting on recommendations from people they know.

I talk with more and more organizations of all sizes who are making identifying influencers a priority. This is not something that is going to go away any time soon. Organizations will evolve past solutions that do not provide value and results. So you when you consider influencer marketing for your brand consider what success looks like and put together your strategy, tools and partners to help you achieve exactly that.

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