FACT: We are living in a world of the super informed buyer. Digital channels have allowed us to consume information anytime, anywhere from any device. They have also created a highway congested with information causing brands to fight for customer attention.
FACT: According to a study conducted by G2 Crowd and Blanc & Otus, 86 percent of people listen to their peers before making any decision. I just went through this during the Social Tools Summit. I talked to industry peers/influencers about the tools they use for implementing an influencer program. Based on their recommendation I have just completed the free online training that one of those vendors provides and have reached out to learn more about their product.
FACT: Social media has changed the playing field by allowing influencers to easily broadcast their opinions. In that same study, respondents stated that 75% of B2B buyers share their insight and information via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs. In addition, social media has also empowered users by providing a way for them, to find those influential opinions through all the noise.
What does this all mean? There are hundreds of people out there having open conversations about your products/solutions and influencing your buyers before your sales rep drafts their first email to him or her. Majority of the time a vendor selection list has already been created before your sales rep dials the phone. That is why it is imperative for businesses to engage in a meaningful and purposeful way on social. You need to be an active participant, but you can’t do it alone. Influencer marketing is just one of the many ways that can help you along the way.
Ah, but before we run we must crawl grasshopper. The following takes a look at defining what is an influencer, influencer marketing and a bit of expectation setting.
First, let’s define what an influencer is? According to a recent free online course provided by Traackr (an influencer relationship management platform), ‘Influencers are experts that help buyers filter through the noise and access meaningful information.’ There is no one size fits all kind of influencer. There are influencers that represent the various target audiences you may have. Traackr provides a great example and approach to defining your influencer types. They essentially categorize influencers into the following tiers:
– Traditional Media: Long considered traditional influencers in the offline space- journalists, analysts, and investors that are equally influential in the digital space
– Online Community Leaders & Experts: Bloggers, industry insiders and subject matter experts.
– Influential Fans: Fans within your own community who other fans listen to and respect
Does size matter? A common mistake marketers make is assuming that the bigger the followers the more influential a person is. It all really depends on your objective. Sometimes those with the smallest following or micro-influencers can have the greatest impact. As that individuals’ following could include some big-ticket names- after all it’s about who you know, not how many.
So what is influencer marketing? For me, it’s about a targeted effort of building transparent, honest and open relationships with people that are passionate about your industry. It’s also about leveraging the invaluable insight influencers that affect the broader community’s perspective or how a business chooses to go to market with their messaging or content. Trust me when I say that it is more than just signing up Kim Kardashian to eat your gummy vitamins and post it on Instagram. Whether you are in B2C or B2B, it is imperative that the influencer aligns with your business values, which is representative of what your buyer looks for in a brand.
Is influencer marketing right for you? I’m not going to lie, building this kind of program takes commitment and not the 3-day juice cleanse kind. Consider it more of a lifestyle change and I don’t recommend crashing into it. You can take it slow and evolve the program as it grows. So here are a few things you need to know:
1. Have a clear set of business goals
2. Who is your targeted audience and prioritize
3. Identify how an influencer program can help attain those goals
I also recommend not biting off more than you can chew, especially if you are new at this. Depending on both your human and financial resources, you may just want to start with 1 or 2 influencers.
Well, I hope this was helpful. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.