Influence Marketing Is a Multifaceted Opportunity to Share Authentic Messages with Customers
When social media was a few years old, and expanded beyond family vacation photos and cat videos, marketers started to become aware of something interesting: unlike any channel in the past, it could be used to spread subtle messages virally, particularly through the people who wielded a lot of influence in social media. Smart companies began creating messages that were mostly likely to be shared virally, particularly by people who had a lot of friends and followers. They began calling it “influence marketing.”
Since the earliest days of social media, customers have begun to use these platforms for more than memes and selfies. They’ve begun following the companies they like, sharing worthwhile information, and even using the channels to communicate with companies for customer support or feedback.
“The degree of influence varies from person to person and platform to platform,” wrote Maggie Marton for BlogPaws recently. “But the core concept is the same: You are known to your readers. They like you. Most importantly, they trust you. So, when you suggest a product or ask for a click or a share, they’re more included to do it than if it came from, say, a big retailer.”
In the same way that people trust the opinions of friends and family more when it comes to recommendations on purchasing decisions (or where to donate money, or which events to attend), a trusted social media source can also affect a person’s preferences. Influencer marketing can’t live in a vacuum, however, it must be tried to other events and materials, such as print advertising, video, fund raising, sales campaigns, contests, current events or any other relevant materials. Taken together – with the right links and hashtags -- they are called “influencer campaigns,” according to Marton.
“Influencer campaigns are usually part of a larger marketing campaign,” she wrote. “Your efforts as a campaign blogger go hand-in-hand with the larger campaign. Sometimes it includes social elements from you; sometimes those come from other influencers. Sometimes it coincides with a print or television campaign.”
The trick becomes creating content that is highly shareable and that is relevant to social media users at that time. It also needs to feel less like advertising and more like useful, funny or otherwise relevant images and information that are likely to resonate with your audience at the right time. This is where influencer marketing has a huge advantage over print ads or other static content.
“It’s to use the affinity your audience has for you to share an authentic, personal take on a product or service,” wrote Marton.
Done right, influencer marketing grows as it spreads. Those who share the content add content of their own, customizing the messages that they are sharing with others, adding life and relevance to your campaign.
While it sounds complex (and it is), and many companies are going to have hits and misses, it’s important to track influencer marketing campaigns very carefully so you can learn what works and what doesn’t. Otherwise, you might find yourself wasting time and money further down the road on campaigns that simply don’t go anywhere, or missing opportunities with new techniques that work.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi