Influencer engagement: today’s critical communication channel
Intuit founder and CEO Scott Cook said it best: “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
Mr. Cook’s sentiment captures exactly why influencer engagement continues to be a critical and effective communication channel. Rather than target a mass market, influencer marketing places attention on key individuals who have influence over large groups of potential buyers and supporters via social platforms. Influencers have a loyal network of followers and are perceived as an authoritative and credible resource.
Naturally, people are inclined to believe in a recommendation when received from a trusted resource – a friend or recognized expert for example. Influencer marketing taps into the same psychology where trust and respect drive consumer decisions to buy a product or support a cause. In fact, studies show that 90% of consumers trust recommendations from an influencer, versus 33% of those that trust ads.
Influencer status is no longer exclusive to celebrities or journalists. Today, influencers are everyday people. They are loyal consumers and cause advocates. The cost for entry is to create, or share, meaningful content that brings value to large communities of followers. As content is shared, downloaded and favourited, the influencer network grows exponentially, as does the reach of your content.
At Thornley Fallis, we believe in the power of influencer marketing and employ a proven, 4-step methodology for successful influencer engagement based on over 10 years of communications best practices.
The first step in influencer engagement is to define the criteria against which to evaluate the potential effectiveness of an influencer. This may include area and breadth of expertise, digital footprint, number of followers/subscribers and resonance of online activity.
Research specific influencers to learn more about who they are and the scope and relevance of their social activity. It’s important to gain an understanding of influencer status and reputation to evaluate if your content will resonate with target groups.Conduct research such as an environmental scan of individual social networks, blogs/blogger bios and websites, combined with data analysis (i.e. website/blog SERP ranking, Klout score) to determine the most authoritative influencers in their respective spaces.
Simply identifying and reaching out to influencers is not a guarantee of success. Influencer relationships must be mutually beneficial; it’s important to provide value from the start by offering meaningful, relevant content and presenting it to the influencer in the context of their particular niche. It’s not a one-touch effort. Take time to help influencers understand, and ultimately believe in, your product and brand.
Continued effort is required to bring ongoing value and foster the influencer relationship. Simple gestures such as sharing an influencer’s tweet or commenting on a blog post can signal that you value the relationship. Maintaining a relationship can mean ease of promoting future content as well as continued insight into key market segments.
For more information on how to integrate influencer engagement into your communications strategy, contact us here.