The Next Big Thing – Influencer Marketing

The world of marketing is changing at a rapid pace and a number of changes are taking place on how best to reach, persuade and influence people to buy your product, program, service or social cause.

The next big thing and you will hear about it often is influencer marketing. What is happening is that there is a big shift going on as people  are now looking at each other  to inform their decisions. Instead of looking at companies or organizations as they did in the past, they now look at each other as well as their favorite personalities, who are consolidating massive followings on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other platforms. Source

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Influencer marketing involves marketing products and services to those who have a sway over the things other people buy. This market influence typically stems from an individual’s expertise, popularity, or reputation. Marketing to an audience of influencers is similar to word of mouth marketing, but it doesn’t rely strictly on explicit recommendations.

Although some people use word-of-mouth marketing and influencer marketing interchangeably, there’s a real difference between the two disciplines. Whereas influencer marketing is the concept of engaging key individuals to leverage their influence among friends and family, word-of-mouth marketing is the actual avenue by which this communication takes place. So, almost all influencer marketing includes word-of-mouth marketing activities by its nature, but not all word-of-mouth marketing is driven by influencer campaigns.

Influence can come from a wide range of places. Any person, group, or place could potentially be an influencer. For example, celebrities are often used to market products and social causes because they are highly respected and highly visible. A day does not go by where some entertainer or sports personality is promoting a product or service or his or her charity, social cause or non profit organization.

Bloggers have become important influencers because they are seen as authentic and have loyal followings. In the world of commercial marketing when a blogger recommends a product or service it seems more trustworthy than traditional marketing communications. By using influencers, companies can avoid much of the cynicism and skepticism that is directed at straight forward marketing messages. Check out the rise of “mommy bloggers”

One of the major drawbacks of influencer marketing is that it isn’t as controllable as traditional marketing. While some influencers only add to the positive image of a product or social cause, influencers who encounter legal trouble or fall out of the public light might negatively impact a marketer’s chance of success. Marketers must prepare to deal with the negative fallout if the influencers they use misrepresent or reject their cause or products.

For the visionary marketer, the rise of the social media influencer creates a world of possibilities. It opens up a new channel for marketers to connect with consumers more directly. However, influencer marketing is still new. Many marketers are still hesitant, at the risk of being left behind by the growing cohort of marketers that are embracing this new channel.

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The Future of Influencer Marketing

No one can actually predict the future, but there is a lot of buzz going around about influencer marketing and it’s for good reason. Influencers and social media are changing the way we share, buy, sell and review products programs and services. Katie Carlson a contributing author with ReadyPulse believes that you will not be successful if you are not running an effective influencer marketing campaign.

She points out that there was a time where organizations used to rely on loyalty to be successful. Now with younger generations emerging, influencers are “impacting” people’s habits and evolving technology. Therefore, marketers need to revamp their strategy.

Influencer marketing is all about finding the right influencers who believe in what you are marketing, can clearly communicate your message and who have built a following made up of people who trust and value their opinion. A marketer’s success largely depends on which influencers they are able to build relationships with.

Carlson points out that many influencers are part of the Millennial generation, a group of people who like to be involved with the latest trends, see their involvement in projects make an impact and feel appreciated. Without open communication, trust, follow-up and clear direction, influencers will have difficulty delivering successful results. So the best thing for marketers to do is focus their time and effort on finding the right influencers, building personal relationships with the best influencers and guiding them down the right road to success.

In today’s marketing your audience wants to hear from their peers, real humans who have experienced a product service or are personally involved in a social cause and who can give an authentic perspective. Traditional marketing campaigns are losing credibility with their audience because they know the message is carefully crafted and tested to paint a picture of perfection. Then they are bombarded with the same message across numerous channels 24/7. So they tune out or completely block the marketing message all together, giving marketers a false sense of reach and resonance.

Influencer marketing tends to be more effective because it’s authentic, honest and engaging. It is able to spread the message to a larger audience, and it is never the exact same message twice. Carlson states that marketing audiences are fed too much content that is not directly relevant to them, and are starving for content that’s specifically tailored to them. It makes much more sense to target them by what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis, what they love and what genuinely interests them. If you can do this, she says, they are almost guaranteed to take action.

How to Develop and Implement an Influencer Marketing Campaign

The first step of an influencer marketing plan is to set goals for the campaign. Typically, goals for influencer marketing is about increasing buzz and public awareness.

Next identify the influencers you want to contact by researching demographics and target markets. Simple searches of Google, Twitter and Facebook can reveal who has influence over your audience. For example, a search for a specific health program would return results for health blogs, reviews of health products and programs, and health enthusiast websites. Some market research firms offer services that help marketers determine who their customers are most influenced by. You will need to decide how many influencers you want to target and then select those that best meet the goals of your campaign.

You then start analyzing where their influencers gather, who their audience is, and what kind of message they are spreading. Carefully studying the influencer’s preference makes them easier to reach out to them later. When you are ready to contact the influencer, communicate through social media or some other informal means. The goal is to form an organic relationship that is not based entirely on endorsing, persuading or selling. Influencers who are treated with respect become genuine advocates for your program, products, services, social cause or more importantly your organization

Marketers should revisit goals every few months to track the success or failure of the influencer program. If a plan is not having the desired effect, you may have to reach out to new influencers in different ways. The influencers who remain effective will need to be courted so that they continue to support your campaign on their blogs, tweets, Facebook-Linkedin posts and their websites.

 

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Two workbooks ideal for marketers and communicators working for government departments/agencies, non-profit/volunteer organizations, associations and social enterprises who are responsible for:

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Social Marketing Planning to Change Attitudes and Behaviours Workbook

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This workbook provides users with an end-to-end planning tool that lays the groundwork for developing a successful public sector or non-profit marketing program.

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Marketing Articles to Read this Summer

Summer is a good time to catch up on your reading. Here are 11 articles on marketing which should keep you up to date on some very important developments in the world of marketing.  Trying reading them while enjoying your favourite beverage.

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4 Tips for Adopting a Customer-Centric Mindset

If you’re taking an integrated marketing approach, your customers need to be driving the decisions your company makes.

Otherwise, your brand could risk becoming irrelevant—or, worse, offensive—to your audience.

When customers are embedded in your DNA—from customer service to marketing to product design—you start to think from their perspective. As a result, you gain insights into not only what you could do but also what you should do as a company.

By harnessing your customers’ wants and needs and infusing that knowledge into every marketing decision, you can establish lifelong relationships that will inevitably grow your business.

The customer-centric mindset is actually similar to a brand-centric one—it just starts with the customer rather than the brand.

The Idea Generation Formula: How to Consistently Deliver Great Ideas

Ideas are the lifeblood of any content marketing campaign. Without new ideas, campaigns—no matter what their aims—will quickly become stagnant. But creating ideas can be hard.

No doubt your team are full of creativity, but producing actionable ideas that can achieve your objectives is the hard part. In this article Ben Harper who is a co-founder of Datify, a data-driven content marketing agency discusses how to keep your brand ahead by consistently delivering winning ideas over the long term. The three main stages of that process are:

  • Idea generation
  • Idea evaluation
  • Campaign creation

How Survey Research Can Aid in PR and Marketing Planning

This article by Lynda B Starr suggests “If you haven’t asked the question, how you will know the answer?” That old saying is a pithy summation of the rationale behind conducting a survey to find out information about your customers.

Survey research, however, is not as simple as asking questions: The right questions must be asked of the right people. You must first determine what information you want to collect, which then guides you to choosing which questions to ask, how to ask them, and of whom.

The article discusses when conducting a survey is appropriate; and offers some tips on survey design; and explores how to incorporate survey results into PR and marketing activities.

Stop Focusing On Your Brand’s Social Media Posting, Here’s What You Should Be Focusing On Instead

Jordan Con states that owned social (what your brand posts) as a powerful business driver is a thing of the past. If anything has been made clear over the last few years, it’s that organic reach on social isn’t guaranteed. Only the biggest publishers are seeing significant organic reach, and it’s because they have deals with Facebook.

Clamoring about the best ways to marginally increase your organic reach is short-sighted. The social networks can change their algorithms or cut it off completely at their discretion. When you play on someone else’s platform, you don’t get the luxury of control.

He provides seven things that you should be focusing on instead.

The Four Principles of a Better #Digital Brief Social Media Marketing

This article by Jeff Roach discusses how to get the best out of your digital marketing department and digital agencies. You want digital marketing that makes an emotional connection with consumers, propels your brand across technology platforms, and engages audiences in digital channels with real value to your brand.

He feels that most briefs are simply too long, too specific, and too tactical. The inspired digital creative—the work that connects with audiences, propels fandom, builds brands in the digital world—doesn’t start with a technology mandatory or an app-vs.-website specificity.

His agency looked at their history of writing briefs and working with brands all over the world, and they distilled their observations into a set of simple, applicable guidelines that can help any marketer create a better digital brief and gives four principles that will lead to better digital briefs.

2 Million Blog Posts Are Written Every Day, Here’s How You Can Stand Out

If you are creating 500-word me-too blog posts that get read by no one, you are completely and absolutely wasting your time. According to Puranjay Singh it’s not your fault. You’ve been told by so-called experts for years that if you blog consistently, you will see truckloads of traffic, thousands of subscribers, and millions of dollars in sales. The thing is, a lot of these experts cut their teeth in the early years of the Web, when 500-word blog posts could win you fame and fortune. If you’re serious about standing out from the 2 million blog posts pumped out every day, he provides advice on what you need to start doing.

The Key to Successful Positioning: ‘3 Cs’ Research

Lawson Abinanti feels that Positioning shouldn’t be left to chance. Unless you do your research, your message to the market has almost no chance of getting through and hitting the mark.

This article explains why you must understand the 3 Cs of successful positioning—your customer, channel, and competition—as well as how to understand your B2B product, service, solution, or company. And it offers suggestions for how to go about it.

One reason organizations fail to thoroughly research the 3 Cs is that they don’t have time to do it: It can take weeks.

One way to speed up the process is to start with your channel: how you sell—direct or through partners, or both.

16 Free Marketing Tactics for Promoting Your Business

Tommy Laundry points out that with all the talk about bootstrapping and growth hacking, it has become clear that more marketers want to self-fund their businesses at least in the early stages of building them out. In the old days, you mostly had to pay to advertise for any marketing benefits to come your way. Today, we have a wider range of paid and free options available to us. Since many of us want to start out with no or low cost options in the early going, we should all be aware of what we might do to move the needle without budget. Tommy provides 16 things to promote your own business.

Seven Tips for Developing Good, Relevant, and Actually Interesting Content

Sarah Bricker states that content is not always easy to write; in fact, depending on the topic or the industry, it can be downright difficult. Throughout their careers, marketers will experience a variety of clients—B2B, B2C (including e-commerce), and special interest clients from an array of industries. Each requires unique content, and each has specific strategies or presentation elements they consider good and bad.

When developing content, you need to consider a few things:

  • Products or services most desired by consumers may change month to month or season to season.
  • Content is built for the long term and the short term.
  • Consumers will read it only if they can understand it, and fast.

She provides seven helpful tips for developing relevant, engaging, and creative content.

How Consumers Find and Use Mobile Apps

Most consumers first hear about mobile apps from friends and family, according to a recent report from Google and Ipsos.

The report was based on data from an online survey conducted in September 2014 of 8,470 people age 18-64. Respondents were asked about how they find, buy, and use smartphone applications.

Some 52% of respondents say they usually become aware of mobile apps from friends and family. Other common discovery methods are app stores (40%), search engines (27%), company websites (24%), and television (22%).

Marketers’ Biggest Social Media Challenges Social Media Marketing

Marketers say measuring ROI is the biggest challenge they face with their social media efforts, according to a recent report from Simply Measured and TrustRadius.

The report was based on data from a survey of nearly 600 social media practitioners that was conducted in February and March 2015.

Some 60% of respondents say measuring ROI is one of the most challenging aspects of their social program; other top challenges include tying social activities to business outcomes (50% cite), developing a social media strategy (48%), and securing enough internal resources (40%).

Why Email Marketing Beats Social Media in Lead Generation, And What You Can Do About It

Social media has many legitimate marketing uses. When used right, social lets you build a genuine relationship with your customers. It helps you find out what people are saying about your brand and it enables you to share interesting content with your audience. Regardless of whether they’re in B2B or B2C, most businesses today can’t afford not to have a social media presence.

But there’s one thing that social media isn’t great for: lead generation. Social media works effectively for many marketing activities, but generating new leads isn’t one of them. In fact, when it comes to generating leads, the good ol’ email will always beat social media. One 2014 study from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company suggests that email conversion rates are 40 times higher compared to Facebook and Twitter combined. “The rate at which e-mails prompt purchases is not only estimated to be at least three times that of social media, but the average order value is also 17 percent higher,” according to the report.

An understanding of its drawbacks as a lead gen tool is critical to getting the most out of social media marketing. So why is email, a relatively old channel, better suited for generating leads?

 

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Keeping Pace in the World of Online Marketing and Social Media

There is no question we have moved into a new era of marketing. Online marketing  is here to stay but is constantly changing. There is no question that online is coming of age and is advancing at a rapid rate. Online marketing provides value and generates results for many organizations, and public sector and non-profit marketers that have focused more on traditional marketing techniques should not dismiss it.

So what is happening? I have read a number of articles recently and this is my summary of some of the more important things that are taking place in online and social media.Top-5-Silly-Mistakes-In-Online-Marketing

Data is becoming increasingly important and this data is being used to improve the experience for individual visitors to websites. Also sites are tailoring content to users based on a variety of factors, which could include the device the visitor is using and the time of day they land on the site, all of which will provide a more personalized experience.

Mobile has seen huge growth area in recent years, and it will continue to grow over the coming years. Many people have smartphones now, and although many organizations have simply focused on launching a responsive website, mobile optimized content will become a lot more important from now on. As people increasingly use mobiles to access information and view content, creating content specific for mobile users to provide them with great experiences will become a key area of online marketing.

In addition, Google has made it clear that search results are now affected by how mobile friendly a site is. Mobile usability is a ranking factor that cannot be ignored, and organizations will need to focus on their mobile search strategies.

In future we will see a lot more funds allocated to content marketing as it becomes increasingly clear how important a role this plays for online marketing. It is getting harder to stand out due to the sheer amount of content available, so the focus will increasingly be on higher quality content, including mobile content.

Although blogs will continue to be important, in future, there will be much more focus on user-centric content that interests and entertains visitors, as well as providing valuable content that answers the needs of users.

One area that will grow is Native advertising particularly as it relates to content marketing. It is anticipated that many organizations will continue to be much more sophisticated at producing editorial-style content, and form better relationships with publishers to place sponsored content alongside primary content. Avoiding overly promotional content and instead providing content that increases engagement will be the biggest challenge.

Social media provides exposure and traffic, and it has long been seen as an important tool for internet marketers. Although social media is an effective way to create engagement and grow brand awareness, a focused promotion campaign on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook will be more important for organizations to tap into the traffic.

Email marketing has been around for many years, and will continue to do so because it works. Another reason why public sector and non-profit organizations love email marketing is because it provides them with complete control over how they communicate with their various audiences. As we have seen in the past few years social media and the search engines are constantly changing the rules, but email remains in full control of the marketers. However, Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) which came into effect July 1, 2014 will certainly have an impact on e-marketing.

Different forms of online marketing are becoming blurred, and this demonstrates how online marketing is evolving. For example, content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing are all becoming more connected. Content marketing is becoming the main influencer when it comes to SEO, and social media will become even more important as a way of distributing content.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the one trend or technology that has had the most impact in the past couple of years. Mobile computing, cloud computing, these technologies, which include social communities like Facebook, social publishing platforms like Twitter, and digital sharing platforms like YouTube, have transformed consumer relationships. These relationships continue to evolve as new interactive technologies become available and consumer preferences change.

Social-Media-GraphicHere are some current social media trends that public sector and non-profit marketers and communicators can’t afford to ignore.

Most  marketers in the public and non profit sectors  are already using social media but not all of them are doing so effectively. In many cases this is because they don’t have a defined social media strategy in place. However, with more and more engagement happening on social networks and publishing platforms, organizations are starting to look more closely at how social media is being used and to incorporate it into their overall marketing strategies.

When organizations analyze the click-throughs and likes that their social content generates, there is one trend that never fails to stand out—images and videos are shared much more often than any other type of content. With the cost of video production declining and the ease with which images and videos can be distributed across the Internet increasing, the use of these visual media is rising rapidly.

Social media generates an unprecedented amount of behavioural data, but until recently organizations did not have reliable ways of extracting knowledge out of the data. With the rise of social media marketing analytics tools, organizations can now mine social data for valuable insights into customer behaviour that they can use to power their decision making.

When brands first started using social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, they often used those platforms the same way they used television advertising: as a way to broadcast their brand message. As a result, many brands saw their followers flee in droves. The lesson was that when people use social networks, they want to see information that is interesting and valuable to them, not just advertisements. For example, brands in the commercial sector that responded by better addressing their customers wants and needs saw their followers return.

The next phase in this evolution is for brands to engage consumers on a more individual level. This trend is being driven both by analytics, which allow brands to get better insight into particular customers, and social media marketing tools that enable personalization.

As another way to respond to consumers’ needs, organizations are using social media more for conversations rather than for brand messaging. This strategy can pay off considerably by turning your audiences into brand promoters.

Social media is one of the most influential channels organizations are using today to reach and engage their customer base.

I will continue to keep readers of my blog up to date on changes in online marketing and social media. I also plan some blogs on innovations in digital marketing.

 

 

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logo-cepsmThe Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) is devoted to the advancement of strategic marketing in governments, non-profits and associations. Through consulting, training and speaking, we help organizations achieve their marketing and communications goals more efficiently and effectively.

 

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