Last month, Technorati published its 2013 Digital Influence Report. While it’s full of great information, it reveals how much of a disconnect there is between brands and influence marketing. For example, internet users reported as being influenced by blogs more so than any other form of social media, yet brands prioritize the number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers when evaluating influencers.
We’re wondering why there is such a disconnect, and we’re not the only ones. Here’s what we’ve been reading:
In “Social Media Influencers: What Marketers Must Know,” Heidi Cohen reports that 86% of influencers blog and of those, 86% write text-posts. Influencers are content creators and understand the power of quality content marketing. This isn’t to say that reach on social platforms isn’t important. It certainly is one piece of the puzzle; however, if consumers trust blogs and influencer have blogs, why are marketers placing so much emphasis on amplification?
There’s Little Value in Likes
In Vijay Sundaram’s recent piece, “A Better Way to Measure Consumer Influence,” he agrees that social-influence metrics such as likes convey very little. He goes on to remind us that influence depends on context and points out that “President Obama ranks among the top five Klout scores, but that doesn’t translate into anything meaningful for any product, service, or brand.”
Where Are the Consumers?
At the Huffington Post, Sam Fiorella takes it a step further and says, “The collective discourse on the subject of influence marketing has become about the game of influence, instead of actual influence.” In his article, Influence Marketing vs. Sales Strategy, he challenges marketers to become accountable and asks, “Consumers, bloggers, and social celebrities with high social influence scores can amplify a brand’s message and even a recommend a product they love or are paid to promote, but how targeted is their audience? Are they even in the buying cycle? “
Quality vs. Quantity
“How did we manage to bastardize influence, and how do we fix what we’ve messed up?”, asks Macala Wright in her post, Why Influencer Marketing is Failing in Retail. Using events from the most recent Fashion Week, Macala reminds readers that while there are similarities between traditional journalists & bloggers, bloggers are in a league of their own. Macala weighs in on “quality vs. quantity” in terms of an influencer’s audience by saying “quality needs to be the starting point, because quality of content put in the right context, that continues the message or story you’re telling, will deliver just as much value as the quantity. And it’s sticky – it will resonate with the audience you’re speaking to.”
We agree with these authors: influence isn’t a game. Start to identify the right influencers for your brand or organization by understanding their audience beyond Facebook & Twitter.
Social media marketing and influence marketing are essentially the same, it’s just that the audience is different, right? Wrong! We’ll dispel 3 common myths and make the distinction between influence marketing and social media marketing a bit more clear:
The core principle that makes social media marketing and influence marketing different is also the piece that is often misunderstood. While you may often use the same tools in your influence marketing strategy as you do in your social media marketing strategy, the tactics are different. That’s because your target audience in social media is not necessarily influential, but your influencers should also be part of your target audience.
As Jay Baer explains in his somewhat controversial post about influencer outreach, “we tend to confuse audience with influence,” and that’s a problem because more often than not, we aren’t reaching the right people in the right way.
Social media marketing requires you to craft specific messages for a group of people who either knows about your brand or should know about your brand. You may have several different target audiences that require different messaging and fostering, but you’re dealing with a community here, not an individual. Influence marketing, on the other hand, requires a bit more care as you’ll need to craft specific messages for specific people.
You may not always be reaching out to a single person at a time, but the closer you can get to crafting messages for “one” vs. “many,” the more successful your influence marketing will be.
Our latest eBook, “How to Create Successful Influence Marketing Programs,” provides a framework to help categorize small clusters of influencers. We suggest crafting messages based on topical interests and how close your target influencers already are to your brand. You may also want to consider how you plan to engage with each small group or each individual when you’re clustering them in small groupings.
Finding the balance between talking and listening in marketing is like walking a tight rope. People don’t want to hear too much that they get sick of you, but at the same time they want you to help them understand your product, offer advice, or provide timely and useful information.
Social media marketing and influence marketing are, in general, similar in this regard: it’s important to listen in both cases, to assess your audience and understand what’s interesting to them prior to joining the conversation or reaching out to them. However, social media will likely involve more publishing and content distribution, and influence marketing will primarily be about engagement and relationship building.
Social media marketing requires tools that let you engage with many people at once, whereas influence marketing requires much more specific targeting, and requires tools that allow you to converse with a small number of people very efficiently. Social media marketing can take place simply though conversation on social platforms, while influence marketing often requires you to take the conversation offline.
In the end, social media marketing and influence marketing are both great at helping your brand develop loyal customers. You can accomplish that directly through social media, or by leveraging the networks, expertise and impact of your best influencer advocates. Both approaches can be extremely effective if given the right amount of resources and effort.
What questions do you still have about the differences between influence marketing and social media marketing? Which approach has worked best for your brand?
Between the presidential election and Hurricane Sandy, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.
We’re located in New York City, and like so many friends and colleagues in the Northeast, a number of our employees were without power and unable to make it into the office. Thankfully, everyone in our office is okay and things are slowly returning to normal. We hope the same is true for your friends, family and colleagues.
Despite the wrath of Sandy, the influence marketing world has continued to move at a breakneck pace and there has continued to be plenty of conversation around this burgeoning topic. Because we don’t want you to miss out, we’ve compiled some of our favorite news and reads from last week.
Want to see what we found? Let’s take a look.
When creating an influence marketing program, it helps to take a step back and think through your strategy and approach for identifying and engaging influencers. Nick Cifuentes wrote a great guide for ClickZ about how to get started. He offers up the key questions you should ask before diving in, as well as the six-step process for building out your plan.
It’s a great post for anyone just getting started with influence marketing or if you need a great framework for efforts.
You can read the full post here – Understanding Digital Influence and How to Engage.
Social media, and influence marketing in particular, can be an excellent way to drive awareness and engagement with your event, and ultimately, your brand. Pam Moore, aka “The Marketing Nut”, walks readers through a step-by-step process for weaving social media into events in order to engage attendees, influencers and partners.
We especially loved the example of IBM and how they reached out to Pam to invite her to participate in their conference. It’s such a smart example of influence marketing done right!
Check out Pam’s tips here – 24 Tips to Increase Conference and Event ROI by Integrating Social Media.
Stephanie Schwab wrote a great piece for Social Media Explorer about how our Influencer Continuum can help brands frame their outreach programs. In particular, the post discusses how the Continuum can help brands engage influencers after they’ve been identified and build better blogger ambassador programs.
Stephanie has got some great advice for any brand who wants to connect with influential bloggers the right way.
Read it here – The Influencer Continuum Model for Influencer Engagement
We also shared a couple of posts on our blog last week that we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss. Here’s what we were talking about:
What influence marketing articles have caught your attention in the past week or so? What should we add to the list?
Image credit: Antononio Caselli
This week in top influence marketing news is chock full of thought leadership on wide range of influence related topics.
As we continue to listen to these conversations, I am amazed at how rapidly influence marketing is evolving as both a discipline and as a conversation. The articles below are but a sampling of how influence is impacting the marketing space.
Jure Klepic is quickly establishing his presence as a voice that isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions in regards to influence marketing’s evolution.
In his most recent article for the Huffington Post, Jure dives in to analyze where influence measurement platforms might be misleading their users, or as he says, “the unspoken truth of what the measurement tools are actually measuring.”
He points out early in his article that there are many nuances to measuring influence (novelty, creativity, attractiveness and mattering) that can’t simply be “boiled down” to formulas and equations. Yet, this is exactly what many influence measurement tools attempt to accomplish.
Jure included Appinions in his analysis of 4 influence measurement tools, mentioning it as “the tool that better approaches providing some indication of influence.” We’re glad you think so, Jure!
Read the full article at the Huffington Post – Where Influence Measurement Tools are Stymied
Brad Fay and Ed Keller of the Keller Fay Group offer a deeper look at the impact of offline behavior on marketing strategy.
Fay and Keller note that a key mistake made by digital marketers is measuring campaign effectiveness with digital metrics only (stating that word of mouth can be nine times more voluminous offline vs. on).
From designing buzzworthy content and post frequency to targeting influencers for word of mouth recommendations – the article offers insights into ways that marketers can maximize efforts in both offline and online to impact their strategies.
Read the full article at Mashable – How Online Marketing Can Fuel Offline Conversations
Mark Schaefer returns to our roundup this week with an exclusive video interview with Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner.
In the interview, Mark shares his viewpoints on how social media influence impacts business.
He specifically discusses the rise of social scoring platforms and how businesses are using these tools to engage with their audiences, his philosophies on creating influence via social media, the democratization of influence and more.
Watch the full interview with Mark – Enhancing your personal social media power
If you ask Nick Cicero from Social Fresh – The world is changing.
Media and marketing are colliding at a rapid pace, and brands need to be positioned to embrace the arrival of Converge media.
Nick defines Converged media by a process in which brands combine the trifecta of Paid, Owned and Earned media (POE) to amplify their marketing.
The article also details a recent report on Converged media by Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group, which offers an in-depth view of the challenges that marketing and communications industries are facing as advertising and media continue to converge.
Read Nick Cicero’s full article on Converged media at Social Fresh – How to be prepared for the Paid, Owned, and Earned media disruption [REPORT]
Brian Solis, author of The End of Business as Usual and a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, tackles a really important distinction regarding the viability of influence and whether it’s here to stay. In fact, he tackles it head on:
“[...] the state of digital influence can be measured. To what extent or effectiveness is under debate.”
Citing data from three separate reports and pulling from his extensive experiences studying the science and art of digital influence, Brian drives home the importance of understanding influence and how this rising marketing discipline affects businesses.
More so, the article really digs into some of the toughest and most stubborn questions fueling the influence debate – Who are these influencers? What are really talking about when we refer to influence? Do businesses really know what is being said about them?
Read the full article on ATT’s Networking Exchange Blog – Why Digital Influence is So Important
What were your favorite articles from this week? Feel free to share in the comment section!
Image credit: Thomas
We are thrilled to see these and other recent mentions of Appinions – proof that our brand of contextual influencer management is taking root. Each of these posts has great perspective and ideas on how to use influencer marketing.
Our own Larry Levy answers some of Social:IRL‘s questions about digital influence and misconceptions in influencer marketing, and offers five tips for better understanding of digital influence.
Writing on Business2Community.com, Jure Klepic helps to define the difference between score-based tools like Klout and contextual platforms like Appinions.
Over on Steve Goldner‘s blog (disclosure: Steve works at client MediaWhiz), he breaks down influencers into three groups (traditional, emerging and influencers by connection), and outlines how to develop an influencer marketing strategy.
Thanks to these authors and others who continue to help us spread the word.
image source: flickr (tenerife)
Much of this blog is about how brands need to empower themselves by properly utilizing digital influence. Every now and then, we also try to deliver ways for the average user to become influential. There are dozens of different tactics a person can employ to become more influential, but there is one that is time tested and a constant in any strategy.
Blogging is a way to share your opinions, and to control your own personal brand on a daily basis. Consider your blog to be your own oasis in the digital desert, where you can speak about anything and take any side you see fit. This does not have to be issues that have global implications, it can simply be about recipes, sports or anything that interests you.
To truly gain influence and a following, you need to blog; there is no way around it. It is also the perfect content engine for social media, constantly supplying you with prime content for your audience. The trick is that the content has to be compelling, opinionated, relevant and have a specific audience in mind.
Obviously, one has to invest a lot of time within the actual social networks in order to gain influence. Blogging supplements it in a nearly perfect way, if done properly. Many shy away from blogging due to the commitment. Truthfully, if you create an editorial calendar, invite relevant guest bloggers, and even create content in one fell swoop then the task can be less strenuous.
Most importantly, you need to enjoy writing and building an audience. You must take it as a responsible to deliver an opinion to an audience who wants to know what you think. Ultimately, blogging when done right is a proven way to enhance your personal brand, and gain influence.
Most brands are either in the digital influence game or they are beginning to recognize its importance. Those who are on the fence need to ask themselves the following questions. Keep in mind, the answers to these seemingly straightforward questions can really define a successful digital influencer campaign.
Why Does Influence Matter to Brands?
Influence in its purest sense can activate relationships with your audience, that will positively affect your bottom line. It is so important for every brand and agency to engage specific influencers and get them passionate about your brand.
The power of social influence not only matters, but is a needed tool to communicate effectively in the online world.
Should Influence Determine who you Interact with?
This question is one that many not only struggle with, but answer incorrectly. In social media you should cast a wide net, and not just focus on those you think are influential. Building your audience has to be a top priority.
Once you have built your audience, now the hard work starts as you have to dig deep to find your niche audiences, and the users who influence them.
Has social influence provided a better outcome for customers in general?
This question is one where the answer is a resounding yes, but it can be hard to qualify. Users tend to be influenced on many of their opinions and purchases across many sectors. This wholly reflects the offline world.
Most users take what they read or saw on social media and turn it into a decision on what to buy, watch or even where to eat. They tend to recommend the people who first gave them advice that turned out well.
If a brand can properly answer these questions they have a chance to do a lot of good in the digital world, with the help of influencers and their influence.
One of the main cruxes of digital influence is that it takes a long time to build. The reward is immense, but only for those who put in the the time effort can reap it. Starting from scratch is always a tough pill to swallow, but cutting corners in the digital world rarely if ever pays off.
Eventually brands and agencies will have no choice but to mimic their offline reputation and efforts in the online world, if they haven’t already. The reality today is that there are still brands of all sizes who are scared of the commitment, and also of entering a new terrain.
In the world of public relations, marketing and advertising some would argue the main principles are trust, creativity, engagement, amongst others; underlying all of this is a high level of commitment to audiences and stakeholders. The online world is no different, and the commitment is just as important.
Constant engagement, consistent voices and a strategy are what equal digital influence. You can not step lightly nor can you enter into it half-heartedly. It is about forming relationships with your audience and influencers, and like the offline world everyone wants to see and feel some commitment. It’s a time tested formula.
This might seem obvious, but from our vantage point it is a recurring problem. Those who get the commitment factor, are the ones who rise to the top. The internet and social media is not new, so if you haven’t committed yet, you have to wonder what you have missed out on. Your bottom line has most likely been affected, you just may not know it.
Reticence will only hold you back, and ultimately it will be counter-productive to all of your digital tactics.