Back in the ’80s, when I was in high school, my friends and I got our style savvy from wandering the mall, watching MTV or copying the lead character in a John Hughes movie. We relied on window shopping, television and movies to determine the latest pair of jeans to purchase, the handbag we had to have and what funky school supplies to buy.
Social Media has Changed the Paradigm
While our mothers may have struggled to understand our obsession with certain brand names, today, it may be just as hard to understand how certain products become popular so quickly. The answer is Social Media. People of all ages today rely on Social Media platforms to tell them what is “hot” and what is not. And while TV and celebrity endorsements were once the best way to start a “buzz,” today’s consumers are not interested in paid advertisements or celebrities. They want to hear from “real” people, who are more like them, people who are willing to share their experiences. These people are known as “influencers.” They are perceived to be more authentic and trustworthy.
Influencer marketing combines Social Media and Content Marketing. Using Social Media, blogs and other digital venues, people share their experiences with a product or service with their audience. This type of marketing focuses on using key people to drive a message to a larger market. As content from these trusted advocates gets shared and republished, an ever-expanding audience of potential customers becomes available to the business.
Doing a quick Internet search may reveal bloggers and other Social Media influencers already talking and writing about your industry and products. Following their content is a very important part of understanding how people perceive your business. It also gives you the opportunity to interact with them or, when needed, to “set the record straight.”
The Down Side
Influencers may fall out of favor with their audience. They may share negative feedback. Worse yet, they could misrepresent your products. While is difficult to control influencer marketing, the truth is that people are talking about you, whether or not you are paying attention. It is worth taking the time and effort to monitor what is said by people on social sites, and to respond quickly to negative comments.
Even with the potential drawbacks of this new marketing niche, it is becoming increasingly popular. Many companies are actively encouraging people to become “influencers” for their products. Some of the largest, well-known companies are using Influencer Marketing successfully.
- Barilla Pasta –The Company sent out “Test Kitchen” packages that contained pastas, sauces and other Barilla products that recipients would need to host a dinner party. The recipients cooked the food, served it to their friends, and uploaded photos to a website. This was a way to organically spread the word about Barilla pasta. The photos that were submitted were used to create authentic looking advertising that featured real Barilla customers.
- General Motors –The car maker set up an exclusive web site with access limited to “GM Insiders.” These were customers that had a deep knowledge and affinity for GM’s many iconic brands. The website featured exclusive news, offers, and sneak peeks. By catering to this passionate segment of their customer base, GM was able to encourage them to talk up their cars to friends and family.
Influencer Marketing is the hot new marketing tool. To see how important this new Marketing has become check out the Infographic below.
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