From Advertising to Advocacy: Why Influencer Marketing Matters
By Holly Hamann, CMO and Co-founder, BlogFrog
Companies like Redbox, ABC News, Sears, Kraft, P&G, and Coca-Cola are leveraging the power of social influencers to develop engagement and trust with millions of potential customers. One of the strategies they are using is called Influencer Marketing. This new strategy is emerging as a powerful way for brands to create trusted content that is shared across the web via social media influencers and reach millions of target consumers.
Digital marketers are faced with huge shifts in how brands advertise online. While banner advertising is useful for creating general awareness, web-savvy consumers now require increased engagement before taking meaningful steps towards purchase. Consumers want content and relevant information to help them make purchase decisions and they seek out opinions from people they trust. Consumers are having conversations with their peers online before they even make a purchase and to be effective, brands need to be part of that dialogue.
One way brands and agencies are meeting the demand for interaction is to form relationships with key influencers online and partner with them to create relevant, quality content that is trusted by their readers.
What is an influencer?
Online influencers are people who create and share interesting or valuable content with the niche audiences that follow them. They might be bloggers with large readerships or socially savvy consumers with loyal followers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest. They are trusted by their audiences and typically focus on a particular area, like food, parenting, fitness, fashion, entertainment or technology. Influencers have many advantages that corporate brands do not, including large communities of followers, trust from consumers, authentic personal experience, and expertise on a variety of social networks. Social influencers are effective at starting, sharing and spreading online conversations, which is valuable to brands.
Influencers help brands
- Provide relevant, trusted content
- Reach more targeted consumers
- Engage with consumers before they search
- Distribute content at scale across the web
When it comes to consumer spending, online content and social conversations have a huge impact on how consumers choose what to buy. Product information and brand-crafted messaging is not the type of content that keeps consumers engaged. Consumers want information that comes from like-minded people they trust.
The Importance of Trust
An obvious step to building trust for any person or organization is to be trustworthy, reliable, consistent and transparent. If a brand is on a path to build or repair trust, it’s important to partner with people who can reinforce the brand message and create trust. This is where influencer marketing has a positive impact for a brand.
Influencers (like bloggers) create and distribute relevant content that is highly targeted and shared in an authentic and transparent way. That means less shouting and more listening, exchanging advertising “noise” for quality conversations about things that matter to the reader. When brands partner with fans and influencers who are closer to their target audience than they are, they gain trust by participating in the conversation. It is a two way street. Smart brands listen as much as they talk. They understand that they need to participate in the conversation rather than control it.
Influencers Reach More Targeted Audiences
Bloggers and others with loyal followers on social media are the new influencers. They have loyal readers on their blogs and distribute content to millions on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. Social savvy individuals often know more about social media and engaging with digital content than brands and agencies. What makes them even more powerful is the niche-based content they produce, which is often in a very specialized area. Millions of bloggers publish content in popular areas like parenting, food, fitness, fashion and entertainment. Influencers can be segmented further to reach specific consumers, like parents of teens, pet lovers, marathon runners, tech fanatics and organic cooks. As the volume of data available increases online, the more consumers want specific information aligned with their unique needs. Working with influencers is a way for brands to reach people whose interests and demographics represent a highly qualified consumer.
Influencer Content Is More Engaging Than Banner Ads
Success in the banner advertising space relies on distracting a visitor from the content they came to a site to read. This means advertisers are forced to interrupt readers about a topic that likely doesn’t have anything do to with why that person came to the site. People have become ad blind, which has contributed to the decline in click-thru-rates and the overall effectiveness of banner advertising as an industry. Instead of fighting intention, a more influential approach is to support the visitor’s mission and be an authentic part of the content they came to engage with. Smart brands are partnering with influential bloggers whose readers represented its core target audience and sponsoring content written by that blogger. This allows brands to be part of the content readers trust and they become part of the social conversation that follows.
Consumers will actually devour (and share) interesting, relevant content about a brand when it comes from a source they trust. By partnering with online influencers, brands and agencies get to participate in the discussions consumers are having way before they see an advertisement.
Scaling Content Across the Social Web
One of the reasons social media has such an impact on marketing is that is it based on the idea that people like to share. People like to discover interesting ideas, music, food and products and then pass them on to their followers. When social media users share steady streams of relevant content, their influence grows and followers are more likely to share with their own networks. By partnering with digital influencers who serve as brand champions on social platforms and brand communities, brands increase their ability to reach more consumers by exponentially scaling how quickly and broadly content gets shared.
Brands need to reach millions of target consumers with peer-trusted content that can be distributed at scale across the web
Agencies need social solutions for brands that go beyond banner advertising
Influencers want authentic partnerships with brands they love
Consumers want relevant, useful content from people they trust in order to contribute to their purchasing decisions
Brands now have the ability to identify key social influencers, mobilize them to create trusted content that goes beyond banner advertising and allows them to distribute that content at scale across the web on all social platforms, and measure the entire process. When brands partner with fans and influencers who are closer to their target audience than they are, they are taking a huge step toward building consumer advocacy and creating more trust and loyalty with potential consumers.
Published: October 15, 2012 By: