Strategy, Tactics and Types of Influencers in Marketing

Influencer marketing is nothing new. Naturally this type of marketing occurs when customers share positive experiences through word of mouth. It is particularly useful in the real estate market when attracting new clients. However when used to manipulate a message, this tactic can be disruptive, expensive, and difficult to manage. The term word-of-mouth marketing was coined in the early 1970s by psychologist George Silverman. He observed the phenomenon while conducting physician focus groups, noticing that positive physician experiences with certain drugs would sway opinions when shared with a group of skeptics. Eventually the opinion of the individual becomes swayed by the masses, improving the satisfaction of previous negative experiences. This can be useful for creating the perception of value or social proof for a given product, but what happens when customers realize the influencer marketing? Do people trust word of mouth marketing when they know someone is being paid for it?

influencer network lion eater
Brands can appear stronger by sharing content within their own networks. By investigating the social data, social strategy trends begin to appear.

Unfortunately search engines are a bit better at sorting the associations between social media influencers and legitimate customer experiences. By leveraging the power of Google, Facebook and Bing, our Hamilton SEO Detectives can identify individuals trying to game social media for profit. Examples include professional contesters (individuals who contest to win prizes, not true customers) as well as phantom social media activity between accounts (re-posting content, liking or sharing content when no real engagement is occurring).

This strategy has been around as long as humans used gossip and word of mouth to communicate key bits of information. The reality is, we trust companies that feel familiar, especially if our friends recommend them.

Using Influencer Marketing to Harness Twitter

Twitter is one of the best social media platforms to harness the power of influencer marketing. The typical profile of an influencer on Twitter is a pundit, trusted blogger or celebrity influencer. They have a typical audience size of over 10k followers, and they are better for short term influence (such as contesting, sharing a time sensitive promotion, brand awareness).

They may or may not be passionate about your brand, which can be a real drawback later on when you need brand ambassadors. Sometimes they expect incentives, such as free passes to events or even samples of your product. If you are paying influencers, this can also get expensive, not to mention difficult to measure return on investment.

Influencer marketing can be useful on Twitter if you want to grow your audience, increase a following and build the appearance that your brand is bigger than it is. At the end of the day, most influencer marketing is empty and poses little if any value. Food bloggers, Lifestyle bloggers and Social Media profile likes do not translate into sales, making this an attractive but dangerous use of marketing dollars.

Why we think influencer outreach is over-rated:

Influencer marketing is not a sustainable form of distribution and outreach. Over time, influencer marketing loses its effectiveness and with it becoming more common to have a large blog following it can be confusing to understand which influencers are worth your time. More often then not it takes free trips, free food, or some other incentive to get an influencer to promote your product. At the end of the day, if your business will likely out live the influencer you are paying for, it might be time to try a different strategy.

A Case for “Brand Advocacy”

So what is the difference between influencers and brand advocates? Well for staters, brand advocates are real people living real lives. Normally they have a job, steady income, and check their email or social media like anyone else. Have you figured out why these people are more important than influencers? It’s because they are your customers, and they don’t cost you a dime when they are happy.

The value of a highly-satisfied customer

Why would you invest money in influencer marketing when you can invest it in being a better business? Nobody know’s your customer base better than the people who work at your business. Focus on capturing and sharing those customer experiences that really showcase the uniqueness, friendliness, and dedication to customer service that any good business has. That way when you need to ramp up your PR and get people talking, you have a base of testimonials and reviews that will outlast any type of influencer marketing.

How likely are your customers going to recommend your brand?

Helping friends and making reliable suggestions is the key takeaway from this post. Influencer marketing is about harnessing that natural curiosity people have for solving problems quickly and asking around for advice. Your customers will be the most passionate advocates of your business and will remain loyal so long as the service is not interrupted. Even when it costs more, customers prefer a reliable, familiar face than going out to the shiny new business in town. They require little if any incentives, making it easier to save your earnings and put them towards contests or rewards that better suit your customer base.

Brand advocates will WANT to engage with your brand. They will be eager to support and promote your products on a long term basis, providing insights and recommendations for those in their community.

Our suggestion? Save money on marketing. Pay a customer with great service, not a bump in influence for a free ride.

Defining the Right Influence

To find the right influencers, we must first define what an influencer is by inspecting the foundations for influence. The ability to influence a social sphere requires the three pillars of influence. These key attributes are : Relevance, Reach and Resonance.

Are the followers and audience legit, or just stay at home click farms?
Are the followers and audience legit, or just stay at home click farms?

Reach is the ability to reach an audience that has value for your brand. If you are a company interested in selling social media services, it’s probably smart not to advertise to other companies in the same niche. Reach is important because it helps determine the appropriate audience of an influencer.

Does your message resonate or does it vaporize?
Does your message resonate or does it vaporize?

Resonance is the engagement with the relevant content by an audience that has some type of value to your brand. This can be positive customer experiences, contesting or engaging with useful content. If an influencer cannot provide resonance, they may not be suitable for your brand.

How relevant is the influencer or message you are trying to share?
How relevant is the influencer or message you are trying to share?

Relevance is the most important factor in influencer marketing. Ensuring that your influencer is qualified in your brand’s relevant topic, industry specialization or qualifying piece of content so that your audience will grow. Marketing with an influencer that is irrelevant to your brand can hurt more than it helps. Sometimes a smaller, more specific audience can be better for engagement than having a tonne of followers.

Once you have identified potential influencers, you should rank their relevancy and whether their content gets shared or not. A great guide to achieving this can be found at Simply Measured’s blog “Social Media Influencers For Your Brand” by Nate Smitha.