Appinions is excited to announce several new features in our March platform release. We have been listening to your feedback and we are addressing two common user requests.
For clients who are looking to evaluate influencers for social media heavy campaigns, we now include a much richer profile of our influencers. This simplifies the process of finding and separating influencers who are influential on social media. Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter popularity statistics are now included by default and shown prominently on the profile.
For users of our Content Marketing module, this give you a more holistic picture of an influencer and helps you better evaluate candidates for an outreach program. As an example, if you want to seed messages from your company Twitter account, you can find influencers who are active on Twitter and have a large following. You already know they are influential because there were identified by our platform. The result is a comprehensive tool that further supports your content marketing efforts.
Executive Influence module users benefit as well. We can show you whom to follow and with whom to interact. For modules with a large social component, we have given you an even more powerful tool for finding your key targets.
Creating content for a marketing program or trying to understand the dynamic of an unfamiliar landscape just became easy. Imagine being able to read thousands of documents from leading influencers and get the Cliff’s Notes version. This is our Theme Map tool.
Simply put, it distills all of the influential conversation around a topic and graphs the most salient themes. We show you the most common themes and what other subjects people talk about at the same time. This allows you to draw non-obvious insights from the data to create compelling content.
For clients using our Content Marketing module, they can see both topics that are upcoming and topics that should be covered concurrently. You can objectively see what is popular and what secondary topics should be included to ensure the maximum distribution of your work. Themes are updated every ensuring that you always have relevant information to pull from.
Event Marketing module clients benefit as well. As an example, if Oracle wants to host an event on Cloud Computing and Clean Energy, we can map out which other themes people talk about related to these topics. This ensures that your event is timely and relevant.
You now have a powerful new weapon for finding the most influential people on given topic.
In the Theme Map we answer the question “What is important in a topic?” With the Influencer Theme Map, we answer the question “Who is important in that subset of the topic?”
This new view is universally beneficial to all of our modules. As an example, a Content Marketing user will use this to find not only the narrowly focused set of influencers they care about, but also the exact opinions that they have that are driving a conversation. A Launch Marketing user will use this tool to help identify a seed audience for the product launch.
One exciting use of this tool is in the context of an Executive Influence team. Let’s say that your company wants to become more influential on Energy Efficiency in the context of Big Data. Using this tool, you can drill down to the exact subset of influencers who are important in this space. We provide you with the exact list of what people are saying so your executive team knows what messaging has been successful. The list of influencers is also useful in understanding who you should engage to raise your Executive’s profile in the designated topic.
We hope these new features are useful. Let us know if we can help or if you have any questions. Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting your account manager directly.
New platform features simplify influence measurement: What Forrester calls “the new black for b2b brands”
Influence changes every day with the natural ebb and flow of conversations and content that is meaningful enough to capture the attention of an audience. We set out to provide marketers with an easy way to assess three things:
1. How well are they influencing the influencer at a given moment in time
2. What has changed in the influencer landscape; and
3. What should the brand do next to either course correct or optimize a successful tactic.
That is why Appinions is introducing a new feature to the platform – Dashboards.
Dashboards presents influencer insights at-a-glance, which appear in various Tiles for existing topics, programs or Gap reports. The Dashboard is a living canvas, which will evolve with the changing needs of marketers.
The various types of Tiles are pictured below.
Tiles available at launch:
1. Topic Tiles: Shows the “who” and “why” that drive changes in influence.
Topic Tiles (as pictured below) provide three key pieces of data that reveal the individuals and opinions that drive influence at a given moment in time.
1.Topic Tiles display the change in Net Influence Score, opinion volume and sentiment over a seven-day moving average.
2.These Tiles also call attention to bursting influencers who have achieved a sudden bump in influence.
3.Last, Topic Tiles show the most “actioned” opinions, which are those opinions that have been published or referenced most frequently across networks or media more than any others in the past two weeks.
2. Program Tiles: How are key influencers performing?
Appinions allows users to set up programs to select influencers for closer monitoring. Program Tiles provide insights that show to what degree these select individuals are driving influence within the program.
3. Influence Gap and Overlap Tiles: Measure Success in an instant!
The Influence Gap Tiles provide a short-cut view of the comparative influence between two topics or entities by showing a widening gap or increasing overlap. Clicking on the various areas of our signature Venn diagram reveals why the program is trending in either direction.
Our goal was to distill our complex, rich influencer insights into snapshots that show progress and inform action. The Dashboard allows users to get a quick status of key influence metrics related to their brand or a topic of interest.
Appinions plans to roll out additional Tiles over time that reflect richer insights that keep our clients better informed as to how they are doing, what changed and what actions they should consider.
What our clients are saying about Dashboards:
If you’re thinking about influence as a mere commodity, then it’s time to think again. An influence marketing campaign is not just a question of plunking down your dollars for an influencer to deliver an audience. Successful influence marketing is all about values like trust, honesty and integrity. And those values, in an ideal world, can’t be bought.
A couple of months ago, the New York Times published a story about 19 companies that had been using employees or paying people to leave positive reviews of their services. Once the story broke, it undermined the perception of those companies and of the people who consented to write fraudulent reviews. It’s not a big stretch to say that treating influence as a commodity could lead to the same kind of backlash, both for brands and the influencers they work with.
That’s why if you’re running an influence marketing campaign, you have to move away from the commodity mindset and see influence – and your key influencers – as a gift to be nurtured.
Think about it. A major reason why influencers are effective is because of trust. Their audiences have the perception that those influencers’ integrity can’t be bought and that they will give their honest opinion at all times. Sometimes they may receive some sort of compensation for the efforts they expend on a brand’s behalf, but that’s not their primary motivation. And some influencers refuse to take money at all.
So how do you work with people when there is no overt financial relationship involved? One important factor is accepting that they won’t like everything you do and will be free to tell their audiences about it. Less than stellar feedback isn’t always a bad thing. After all, when you look at a product and the reviews are all positive, don’t you sometimes wonder if they are for real? When your influencers give their honest opinions they reinforce the trust they have earned from the target audience you are trying to reach.
It’s also important to nurture the relationship by giving them the access they need to your products and services – and the people who produce them – so they can give a balanced viewpoint. That’s how they deliver value both to you and their audience.
Rather than being a simple buying and selling transaction, influence marketing is about the value exchange. Brand owners create an emotional connection with their influencers through access and they can give something back by helping to promote those influencers in turn. It’s a fair exchange, with no loss of integrity on either side.
To paraphrase an old MasterCard ad: an influencer who can’t be bought – priceless!
Image credit: Mulberry24
Most employees don’t think of themselves as influencers. Come to think of it, in any company with a traditional hierarchical structure, their bosses don’t think so either.
But they’re both wrong.
Employees are experts in their particular sphere, whether it’s crunching the numbers or packaging products for shipment. Within every team, there’s always someone who’s the go-to person, who truly has an integral understanding of the factors that affect how they do their jobs. They are in charge of delivering your strategic plan and are the people most likely to have contact with the end customer – the people whom your influencers are trying to reach. So why would you (or your bosses) ignore them?
In our eBook on Executive Influence we shared a key statistic from Edelman’s Trust Barometer that shows the importance of leveraging the influence of your employees and executives in your influence marketing campaigns. It’s because more people trust employees and executives than trust CEOs (by a 50% to 43% margin). So businesses that don’t act on the potential employees offer for influencing others, both internally and externally, risk losing out.
This means a cultural change for many businesses to become more socially minded and internally connected. Although Chris Heuer argues that “Social Business,” the term, is dead, he does acknowledge that “[w]hat really matters is freeing every human asset to be free of fear, uncertainty and doubt so they may achieve their greatest potential in life and in work.”
We believe that using influence marketing to create employee influence is one way to help employees fulfill their potential. As we’ve long advocated, creating influence within the company, and leveraging influencers outside the company, creates trust for a company, product or service.
If we had to choose one word to describe the changes in how people do business in the 21st century, it would be “empowerment.” Some businesses are using company-wide analytics to enable everyone in the company to contribute to better decisions. Others have borrowed agile methodology from the software world to create a more flexible, less hierarchical approach to developing products and services. Empowering employees to identify and wield influence is another aspect of this.
Employees can influence others both internally and externally by contributing to company events and promotions, taking part in content marketing, making in-house presentations and connecting with your external influencers on social media. That last method is a win-win. As we’ve said before, giving external influencers access to what’s going on inside the company is part of the value exchange. Not only does this approach free up the CEO, but by leveraging employees as influencers you can build trust among external influencers.
Photo Credit Altaher Altabet
As a B2B marketer, there are likely two questions that come to mind when you think about Pinterest and Instagram.
1. Do these visual platforms represent an opportunity to influence the people you are trying to reach?
2. Do you still need influence marketing now that Pinterest has sponsored pins and Instagram has ads?
The answer to the first question is a resounding yes. Many B2B companies are already using Pinterest and Instagram to extend their reach. It’s easy to see why, because Kissmetrics research shows visual content is among the most shared content on social media, rapidly multiplying the number of views, comments and click-throughs over text based content. It’s an opportunity no business can afford to pass up.
But it also means thinking differently about how to connect with your influencees on these platforms. You hopefully already know a lot about what interests them; use this information to reinforce that connection. Here are some examples of how B2B companies are using Pinterest:
Many companies are doing the same on Instagram and on Vine. Examples include Cisco, Oracle and Maersk Shipping.
These examples show that B2B companies who really get the platforms and know how to use them (being visual, creative with descriptions and using appropriate hashtags) have an unparalleled opportunity to influence the people they are trying to reach. Visual media can help you demonstrate technical aspects of your business to the influencers who need to explain them to others and gives them something they can easily share with their key audiences, extending the reach of your brand.
Does the presence of advertising on visual platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram negate the value of influence marketing?
Not at all.
Some Instagram influencers with large followings are already posting doing their own product placements and they are likely to get attention. However, a recent Adobe study showed that only 8% of people pay attention to online ads. The other 92% – don’t. That 8% may be enough to give those sites revenue, but is it enough to give your brand the reach it needs? Probably not.
That’s why there’s value in using both strategies. Advertise to get the attention of some of the people you haven’t reached; use visual media on Instagram, Pinterest and Vine to connect with them more deeply.
Image credit bloodybee
The other day a member of our client services team was helping a client identify influencers for a social marketing campaign for a line of tech products. The client wanted to target working mothers; by searching the Women in Business topic, the team member found a lot of inspirational and influential women who seemed to fit the bill. But the client was concerned about them because all of those women were seemingly older than the women that client was trying to reach. Was this a good decision?
One of the myths in influence marketing is that we’re all influenced by “people like us.” Which would mean that our target customers are influenced by people like them. We therefore often assume that the best people to choose to reach our chosen influencees will be people who match their demographic as closely as possible. That’s just plain wrong. The people who influence our customers aren’t one homogenous group, and they may not always be the same types of people as our end customers.
As young children, we look to our parents for advice. When we get older, we also turn to our peers. But they aren’t the only people we listen to. There are always a few others who are in a mentorship role, like our football coach or our first boss. Even though these people are not the same age or gender, they serve as trust points when we make decisions about our lives, whether these are big or small. They are role models – and that’s something we need to think about in influence marketing.
Here’s an example: Say you are trying to launch a new technology product. When making a decision to buy, the people you want to reach will certainly listen to their friends who are always testing the latest gadgets, but you’d better believe they will also be listening to the latest pronouncements from the top analysts covering Google, Apple and Microsoft, because they trust their opinion as people with wide experience in the tech space. They are role models and mentors rather than peers. Does it matter what age the analysts are? Or what location they’re in? Most likely, no. But they may be examples or models for the final influencees all the same.
Whatever your business segment, a good influence marketing campaign cannot ignore the value of influencer examples. When Ben Silbermann launched Pinterest, he saw early members as role models for the rest of the community and built his product for them; look how well that turned out. In the end, connecting with the right influencers is less about demographics than about enabling their function as models and trust points for the audience you are trying to reach by providing the information that their influencees will use to guide their purchasing decisions. Understand who your target audience looks up to, and why; this could be something to ask the next time you do customer research.
Image credit: Sophie ffrench-Constant
Influence marketing has been a hot buzzword in 2013. And while most marketers use influence marketing to develop new audiences, generating the audience (what we also call influencees) is only half the battle. What happens after the sale counts. Think of your contact with B2B influencers as a committed relationship rather than a brief encounter.
Here’s how it often goes: You identify influencers, work with them to attract the audiences they motivate and hope that those in their audience will buy your product or service. But what happens after the sale is made? Do your influencers – and their audience – cease to be of interest once money has changed hands? If that’s the case, you’re missing out on the potential that building a relationship brings. After all, no one likes to feel abandoned.
Once the initial phase of your program is over and those first sales come in, that’s the time to cement the budding relationship and turn those influencers into super advocates who serve as trust points for their influencees.
You’re probably familiar with the sales and marketing formula of attract, convert and close. Hubspot recommends adding a fourth phase: delight. We agree; that’s the best way to keep influencers, and their audiences, engaged. It’s about showing them that they still matter to you, even after they have successfully persuaded their followers to make the sale. How do you do this? The answer is to use the same channels you used to attract and communicate with influencers to keep their audiences involved.
Last year, a well-known writers’ organization ran an influencer campaign for one of its events. It identified some popular writers via Twitter and added these writers to a specific list, which it shared with them. The organization then used that list to respond quickly to their influencers’ tweets, whether they were about the brand or not. After the event was over, they continued to interact with those writers via social media, extending communication to other social sites. As a result those influencers have retained a positive view of the brand. That’s just one example of how continuing communication could pay off. You may choose to use forums, discussion groups or email updates, but the principle is the same. (Bonus: For more on how influence marketing can enhance your events, check out our latest eBook on the topic!)
Another way of thinking of this is by moving influencers and their audiences past the point of purchase through what Brian Solis calls the Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) to the Ultimate Moment of Truth (UMOT). The SMOT is when influencers process their emotions about their experience with you and the UMOT is when they share those feelings. Influencers remain connected with the audiences you want to reach, so if you abandon influencers after wooing them and getting the sale, subsequent feedback may not go your way, undoing all the good you have achieved so far.
So remember to go back to the well and keep the relationship going! Keep talking to those influencers so they can guide influencees’ shopping decisions well into the future.
Image Credit: Joan Sorolla
Event marketing is a significant part of nearly any B2B marketer’s budget – or any marketer’s budget, for that matter. According to a report from the Association of National Advertisers, media exposure, brand awareness and attitudes towards brand are key measures of an event’s effectiveness; as savvy marketers know, those are also metrics which can be impacted through the use of influence marketing.
Our latest eBook, Optimizing Business Events with Influence Marketing, provides event organizers and event sponsors with a roadmap for how, when and where to use influence marketing to enhance offline and online events. The eBook covers:
Our suggestions for using influence marketing pre-event, during the event and post-event will make this an eBook you’ll reference for every event. Download our free eBook today!
Is influence marketing a numbers game? When people think about social media influence, it can be tempting to treat it like advertising. Although ads are measured in number of impressions – the number of times someone has potentially seen the advertisement – it’s a mistake to measure social media influence in terms of the number of Twitter followers or Facebook fans an influencer has. People can buy followers and likes across the majority of the major social networks, which makes this a metric that can’t be trusted in full at face value. Just as the number of ad impressions has very little to do with the number of people who will act on the ad and buy a product or service, the number of someone’s fans or followers has very little to do with their actual influence.
Another metric that people may use in influence marketing is reach. That’s usually the number of friends (or followers) of the influencer who could potentially see the content they share on your behalf. But that word “potentially” reveals the flaw in this thinking. Leaving aside anything that goes viral, which is an obvious exception, if you’ve ever dug deep into social media analytics tools, you will know that the actual number of people who see your content falls far short of the potential viewership. And the number of people who take action on that content is smaller still. Yes, there’s mileage in connecting with influencers who have a large audience, but unless those influencers are truly engaged with their audience, do they actually influence them? It’s not impressions that matter, it’s action!
So how do you assess the impact that influencers have on their audiences and the actions that they take which impact your bottom line? Before you even start an influence marketing program, you need a realistic assessment of where you are now. You must understand what social interactions, conversions and sales look like BEFORE you start. Those are your benchmark for assessing future success. Then you’ll want to track the results of working with influencers. This might include:
Notice anything about those examples? They have nothing to do with the size of the influencer’s potential audience, and everything to do with measuring the actions taken by real people as a result of an influence marketing campaign.
Just because people follow other people on social media doesn’t mean that they are influenced by them. People follow others for all kinds of reasons ranging from rabid brand evangelism to mild interest. Those at the “mild interest” level may not be the people you want to reach. And if they don’t take action as a result of what the influencer does, then maybe that influencer isn’t the right one for you. At the other end of the scale, those who have a passion for what the influencer stands for, and by extension for your company, product, service or content, are the people you really want to reach.
In the end, you don’t need 10,000 people with massive social media followings if you can get 100 who inspire their followers to take action. It’s not about huge numbers; it’s about the right people. People take action based on their engagement with other people, not companies.
Image credit: Louise Docker
Is influence marketing a one-way street? A recent Huffington Post article said that for Salesforce.com’s Gillmor Gang, a podcasting team, influence marketing was about providing the information that influencers needed so that they could provide feedback on products and services and ultimately affect the development of the company.
A one-way street back to the company? That’s certainly worth thinking about.
It’s often tempting to think of influence marketing as being simply about identifying and creating relationships with the people who are influencers in your niche and for your brand. After all, if you reach them and they reach their core networks, then you create more knowledge of and interest in your products and services. Influence them, the prevailing wisdom goes, and they influence others – everyone’s happy. It’s customer-centered marketing with the influencer at the heart of it. And if you can move your influencers through the different phases of the Influencer Continuum to turn them into Super Advocates, that’s an even bigger win.
But maybe the Gillmor Gang is onto something with the concept of reverse influence: we’re missing something big if we only use influencer marketing in the traditional way. What about turning that relationship on its head and thinking about how those influencers can help us to be better? Think about it: the reason we’re getting together with those influencers is because they have something to say that their networks will listen to – so why aren’t we using that to our benefit? That super advocate is by definition also a super customer, an uber-customer, if you will. Understand that person and you also understand your other customers.
Rather than having the relationship go in one direction we could:
And you know what? Those influencers will appreciate the fact that you value their opinion and will reward you with more trust. This approach doesn’t just provide business intelligence, but influencer intelligence.
In the long run, using reverse influence and making influencer marketing a two-way street leads to better products, better services and better customer relationships – and everyone wins!
Image credit: Giuliano Maiolini