Influence is the ability to drive action, and marketing through influence is something that brands have been doing for decades.
Purely Machiavellian, its aim is to drive you to engage with the brand, through using the intangible and (hopefully) positive qualities associated with that ‘celebrity’ to manipulate your aspirations, emotions and subsequently, your behaviour.
Both offline and online marketing leverage influence in exactly the same way. With one exception; social media. As social media influence continues to grow and change, so too does influence marketing.
In terms of social media, influence can be a variety of different things; number of followers/fans, frequency of posts/tweets, the connections someone has, or the value of the content they share. In reality, gauging the influence of an individual is an assessment of all of these things combined, and most importantly, the context in which you are operating. For instance, Justin Bieber has a huge following on Twitter, however, he would not be influential when it comes to a subject such as computing or crafts.
It’s important to think contextually in order to target the influencers that will bring the most value to your audience, and therefore your brand. It’s important to get the right ‘fit’ – the wrong influencer can ultimately end up doing more damage than good, as has been seen time and time again, when celebrities go bad or are simply the wrong match for a brand.
So, finding the right influencers is clearly important. But how best to do it? There are a number of tools available that measure various aspects of ‘influence’. Each tool will measure different factors in a slightly different way, so it’s a good idea to use a variety in order to thoroughly mine your audience for influencers. Klout, PeerIndex and Kred are amongst the most popular tools out there – but still these vary slightly in their metrics and how they implement them. Broadly speaking, however, metrics for measuring influence include:
Across the different social platforms there are a variety of ways to engage and build relationships with influencers; this post gives some good pointers for the individual sites, but overall there are some golden rules:
Brands that do social right understand these rules and will embrace contact with their audience. @adidasoriginals is one example of a brand that has the rules of engagement down to a ‘T’, and leverages influence in a way that isn’t forced, fake or purely a marketing message – all big turn-offs for potential consumers. They proactively mention and positively comment on the achievements of influential individuals from a variety of related industries in which their audience is interested (music, fashion, art), and, in the name of transparency, even have a public list of brand ambassadors. With 1,273,036 followers currently, clearly Twitter is benefiting the brand, enabling them to bring stakeholders and therefore consumers into the conversation and keep their fanbase engaged and growing all the time.
Does your brand/company leverage influencers on social media? If so, how? What’s the best interaction you’ve had with one of your influencers?