March 31, 2014
5 predictions about Influence Marketing from 5 marketing & communication practitioners
Who could imagine 20 years ago, some PR professionals would incorporate to their focus target not only journalists, but social network users and bloggers too? We call them “Influencers”, but really they are also people specialized in specific topics, active content generators and followed by (small, medium or big) communities very interested on what they say or what they write.
“Dear blogger, I would like to share with you our last press release expecting it’s of your interest…” NO please! It wouldn’t be the email that a PR practitioner should dedicate to a very influent blogger, because they are not like journalists, this is not their job… Public Relations, marketing and communication is more and more based on the ‘personal relations’, and individualization is exactly what an influential person is expecting from you and your brand.
According to the first Influencers Marketing status Report elaborated by Augure, marketing & communication practitioners are faced to three main challenges in their Influence Marketing strategies: 61% stated that it’s the identification of really relevant influencers for their brand; 56% declared the interaction and getting the attention of influencers is their big challenge; for 44% is to measure and analyse the results of their Influencer Marketing actions.
We wanted to ask to some of the most influent communication and marketing professionals of the USA. Brian Solis, Kevin Dugan, Arik Hanson, Roxane Papagiannopoulos and Frank Strong make their predictions about Influence Marketing:
Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group
Are “Influencers” something new? What is changing for PR practitioners?
Influencers are not new to the world of marketing and public relations. They may however be new to some PR strategists. Whether we’re talking about tastemakers, subject matter experts, prosumers, or enthusiasts, certain groups of people have always earned authority and/or popularity that affects people’s impressions and actions. Today, they’re much easier to identify thanks to software. Engagement however, still takes a delicate and informed approach.
Knowing the influencers is an important first step. Too often, PR practitioners reach out to influencers as if they were part of a generic database waiting for pitches to come their way. Everything starts with understanding why they’re influential in the first place. Who do they influence and how? What’s import ant to them and why? What are their preferences for contact and potential engagement?
Don’t miss the Altimeter’s report ‘The rise of Digital Influence’, a ‘Must read’ if you’re interested in this topic
Kevin Dugan, Director of Content, Empower MediaMarketing
What criteria do you think, define an online influencer?
I can sum up the criteria that define an online influencer in a single word: relevance. Relevance assigns influence. If you are trying to sell Disney Cruise packages, I don’t care if you have an authority in marketing and media on the cruise, live tweeting their experience. Marketing pros are not a relevant choice for vacation ideas, no matter how influential they are in their field of expertise.
Relying on directional, black box sites like Klout as a definitive source of influence is not advisable. These sites are valuable. But you need to prove out their assertions and ensure, more than anything, that your audience is influential in the same topics you’re focused on.
Arik Hanson, principal, ACH Communications
The Influencers marketing status report we published last February stated that three of the most big challenges for mkt & communication practitioners are to identify influencers, interact with them and measure the results of influence marketing. How do you think, communication professionals should face these challenges?
Roxane Papagiannopoulos, President at RMP Media Analysis
Why are online Influencers important for brands? Is the Influencer Marketing measurable? How?
The online influencers are a valuable resource for the PR’s company. They are a primary component of earned media, which is a PRs domain. The dynamic for the PR doesn’t change at all from the journalist dynamic. The journalist is paid to write and while they should be objective, that is not always the case. Online influencers aren’t paid, they don’t have a stake in the company, they aren’t influenced by deadlines or editors. The online influencer should have the same access to PRs. The successful PR will have to take the time to identify key online influencers and cultivate relationships with them.
Influencers can help promote or damage a PRs and Marketers brand. The fact that they typically do not have a stake in the brand, but perhaps in the industry the public put more stock in their viewpoint.
The benefits of influencers is measurable just the same way traditional efforts should be measured and evaluated. The ability to link the results of media efforts earned and otherwise to business goals and outcomes. Establishing a strategy that is in line with the company goals makes this an effective way to demonstrate success and areas that may need refinement.
Frank Strong, Comms Director at LexisNexis
It seems content marketing is really linked to Influence Marketing, Why?
It’s one path to influence marketing, but not the only path. Writing a bunch of blog posts doesn’t necessarily lead to influence and there are a range of other dynamics. An outraged customer with a just a few followers can post a complaint on Twitter and that gets picked up by a major online outlet. There are those that do not write content, but merely curate content on social channels that can be influential in their own right.
Brands need to study the spheres of influence, the relationship between people and analyze how content moves around the web. Influence marketing requires research, diligence and relationship building — those are time tested principles that have been fundamental to any effective marketing program since the post-industrial revolution. The web has just made it a little easier.