Today consumer behaviour has fundamentally changed. In 2015 on average per minute we saw 2.5 million Facebook posts, 277,000 Tweets, 347,000 photos were shared across Whatsapp and Skype Users connected for 23,300 hours. As exposure to content so dramatically exploded, consumers are looking to signals from the noise that they can trust and are turning to peers and recognized voices online to inform purchase decisions whilst closing an eye on branded content and advertising.
With this, innovative marketers shifted their investment focus to social media and the more disruptive and collaborative brand communications tactics as priority investments that would cut through the noise and deliver lasting impact on the relevant authoritative conversations for their audience and so Influencer Marketing came of age.
Now as we approach 2016 budget planning what do we need to know about Influencer Relationship Management (IRM) and how can brands effectively future-proof their marketing strategy and spend and reshape brand communications activities to cross the chasm towards socially-driven sales?
Capitalising on the Consumer Collective
People trust people over brands. Actually 77% of consumers say they do not want to have a direct relationship with a brand says the Harvard Business Review. Word of Mouth and peer recommendation and review culture is powerful and here to stay: we look to each other and to our favourite digital personalities on Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and other social platforms to be informed about the experience of a product or brand prior to purchase. And the influence is considerable.
A study by McKinsey this year clarified that marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid-for advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate
IRM V Traditional Media
With consumers spending more time on social media everyday, it is natural that 70 percent of brands stated they were increasing their social media spend for the year (Salesforce’s ‘State of Marketing’ report). However the rapid realization that organic engagement on brand publications was collapsing demonstrated the considerable lack of interest from consumers in branded content. And now many brands are back to pushing media spent through Facebook to put content in front of their audience, entirely missing the point of trusted peer-to-peer relationships.
At the same time Google Trends illustrated the burgeoning growth of Influencer Relationship Marketing, classifying the keyword as a “breakout,” (meaning that it was experiencing growth greater than 5000 percent!) and heralded in the coming of age of this smart and entirely new marketing platform.
For the visionary marketer, the rise of the social media influencer creates a world of possibilities.
Co-Creation and Collaborative Communication
Such innovative strategy delivers a fertile channel for brands to connect with consumers more directly and organically than ever before and at scale. By co-creating content directly with social media influencers, that is to say providing the right kind of assets and opportunities for influencers to share and create relevant messages, brands can amplify their impact in the right way, targeting the conversations that their audience is interested in.
IRM isn’t just an alternative to traditional media activities —it’s turning the traditional model completely on its head. It’s a longer-term investment that requires a structured approach and time to onboard the right influencers and together to generate the right kind of content that they can tailor and that will resonate. But the impact is laudable and delivers invaluable consumer data and a brand voice that is deeply persuasive, engaging and palatable to the consumer.
By example when 19 of De Grisogono’s global influencers posted live photos and comments about from the luxury brand’s celebrity party at Cannes Film Festival, 19m impressions were generated across social channels, 35k additional followers and fans were recruited in the two weeks that followed resulting in 500k interactions with the brand across social platforms. Rapid and powerful amplification!
Initiating Impact and the Top 3%
IRM is based on one critical insight: conversations and engagement are created by a very small number of people within each conversation topic: and it is the top 3% of social media commentators who drive 90% of the impact. Through IRM brands can now strategically partner with the right personalities to spark unique and organic conversations and seduce their followers. In this new paradigm, influencers are a force to be reckoned with and Influencer Marketing becomes one of the strategic pillars of brands communications strategies.
IRM Measurement – Targeted and Trackable Business Insights
Decisions without data are shots in the dark at best and measuring the impact of IRM campaigns is a key priority for leading brands.
Once an IRM campaign is launched brands need to ensure that the activity plan creates the right expected behavior from the targeted influencers and that the overall impact is fully aligned with expected business outcomes Traackr’s ‘Always On’ measurement suite, for example, ensure that brands can measure their progress in building influencer relationships and the impact such relationhips are driving on relevant social media conversations across all their different initiatives.
Implementing a strong measurement framework and data set around IRM is the most important element on the journey to shifting significant marketing investment into the practice.
On top of building your brand and improving your sales numbers, influencer marketing also helps your ranking across search engines. According to The Social Media Revolution, user generated social posts account for 25 percent of search results for the world’s top 20 brands. The more people mention your brand on social media, the more popular and relevant you will be on Google!
ROI and Financials
Influencer Marketing also constitutes an opportunity to create first mover advantage. As by definition the number of influencers is limited in each conversation, the first brands that make the effort in creating and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships with those key people will build a unique irreplaceable position for their brand in regards to their target audience.
The capability of brands to quickly shift resource and attention to building relationships and create a huge return on investment is key. The positions that will be taken in 2016 will be strategic.
By Nicolas Chabot, VP EMEA of Traackr.
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