13th July 2016
Influencer Marketing is the rapidly trending marketing term for 2016. Indeed, as of July 2016 the Google trends graph for “influencer marketing” is a near perfect hockey stick.
But in fact, influencer marketing has been with us for at least as long as content marketing. Well that’s the hope, as it’s imperative that an effective influencer marketing strategy is applied at the sharp end of your content marketing strategy. If your content is not quite hitting the mark with your target audience via an effective influencer marketing strategy, then you have a pretty blunt and ineffective content marketing strategy!
So how can you ensure influencer marketing is at the sharp end of your content marketing?
It’s interesting to note that in a May 2015 study by Schlesinger Associates for Augure, 84% of marketing and communications professionals worldwide expected to launch at least one campaign involving an influencer in the 12 months that followed. Well 12-months on and we’re beginning to see this bear out with hard and prevalent evidence that influencers can deliver exceptional results for today’s social media marketing driven campaigns. And everyone is jumping on the bandwagon at an alarming rate.
“Don’t just follow the herd half-cocked and ill-advised. Take the time to understand why some influencer marketing works so well.”
Put simply, an influencer is somebody who many, many other people follow and conduct themselves similarly to. So you could have Kim Kardashian using the latest ‘dumb phone’ and once her followers see how ‘cool’ it is to use that device, they will likely buy that ‘dumb phone’ too. Well that’s the theory – but it’s not quite as simple as this and certainly this example throws up inherent problems.
Firstly, do you want your brand to be ‘flavoured’ by association with Kim Kardashian? And even if you did, can you really afford to divert a squillion dollars of your company’s turnover to buy her love?
The truth is, you don’t need a celebrity. At least not in the traditional or old-school sense. What you really need is your perfect influencer. That person who not only has a decent social media or other following, but also has a peer group made up of similar or like-minded persons that you would also like as your perfect influencers. You don’t want to just reach one degree of influence, you want to throw that stone into the pond and ripple your magnified impact across multiple degrees of influence.
What’s also vital in this transition of marketing communication into a conversation across multiple circles of influencers is that your message is not diluted too much, and especially not twisted or broken. So you really do need to be sure that at the sharp end of your content marketing program is an influencer marketing strategy that ensures you embrace the right persons, in the right language, on the right platforms and at the right times.
All good content marketing programs need to connect with and engage their target audience in such a way as to invoke an emotive response, leading to comments, shares and more. Who does the sharing, to whom and to what effect is the purpose of your influencer marketing.
But hold on there chump. Don’t just follow the herd half-cocked and ill-advised. Take the time to understand why some influencer marketing works so well. Look at what’s creating the influence, driving the engagement, directing the story and ultimately delivering the brand and/or product warmly at the heart of the conversation being had by the perfect target audience.
Above all, it’s knowledge of who you need to connect with, why and with what. You also need to know how to bridge that gap between what you want your company, with its product and services, to be known for and communicate that in a relevant fashion with your target peer group of influencers.
That Media Thing has written extensively on the power of data infused content marketing. But we are also adamant that data is useless – or worse, dangerous – if you do not apply skilled interpretation to it and application of it. Read There’s an easy way to understand what your customers want for some further insight in this area.
In fact, we founded That Media Thing on the principle that digital content publishing was awash with ineffectual statisticians and herd-following publishers held to ransom over data and chasing numbers that did little to actually connect with or drive an emotive, authentic engagement with a person. Our first and most popular blog to date still resonates the truth on this matter today: Analogue vs Digital Audience Stats – thinking is allowed too!
In summary, you absolutely must arm your content strategy with a well understood influencer targeting strategy. After all, you cannot very well have influencer marketing without content marketing – and vice versa.