“Mom, how do you know if what you read on the Internet is true?”
This was a question asked by my 7-year-old son from the backseat of the car one day after school. It’s a question both marketers and consumers are grappling with, and in answering it, the conversation quickly turns – as it did with my son – to the topic of trust.
Online environments have gotten to the point where they’re able to influence just about every area of our lives, even the most personal ones. With vast amounts of information at our fingertips, it’s important – as consumers – that we get the information we need from sources we trust. These sources could be anything from friends and family members on social networks to blogs or other sites that we regularly subscribe to, and they have the power to impact what we do or do not purchase. We rely on these personal recommendations, sometimes in lieu of corporate or branded information, to make what we feel are the best decisions for our families, because there’s trust within those relationships.
In marketing products and services, organizations should make it a priority to build trust with consumers and to make real, human connections to communities because people are forming and sharing opinions of your brand based on feedback from others. Brands have a huge opportunity to insert themselves organically into the conversation by creating relationships with influencers and, in turn, their audiences.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is marketing your service or product to specific, targeted individuals, in hopes that they’ll share that information with their networks. Unlike traditional marketing, influencer marketing isn’t for the masses. It’s for select groups, often online.
Before influencer outreach campaigns are launched, however, there are important things for companies to consider:
Conversations are happening all day, every day. We live in a time of over-sharing, and this can be beneficial to marketers. It’s important to listen to and monitor what’s being said about your company before you engage, in order to find the right platforms and channels for your organization or brand. No one wants to show up to a party they weren’t invited to.
People are doing research on behalf of loved ones – make sure they can find your brand. Because of the way search engines have evolved, blogs, forums and social media profiles are typically found on the first page results of a search. Influencer marketing, if done correctly, can positively and organically impact SEO.
Influencers can be anyone. By definition, an online influencer is someone who has some influence over another’s purchasing actions or behavior. Common misconceptions about influencers are that they 1) must have a blog, and 2) must have a large social media following. While both of these can be true, the most important thing to look for in influencers is expertise in a subject (credibility) and their relationship with their audience or followers (engagement).
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. In addition to listening and identifying the appropriate channels and influencers, it’s important to determine what you want to get out of the relationship before you try to build one. Whether it’s mentions, social media interaction or website traffic, articulating goals and KPIs in advance of an influencer marketing campaign can help measure success.
From social media VIPs with professional-looking websites to everyday consumers who have a lot of influence over what their friends purchase or participate in, these influencers have the potential to create massive amounts of awareness and purchasing consideration for brands. But the bottom line is that people are looking for information they can trust. And influencer marketing already has the power to put your brand directly in front of your target audience in a real, human way.
(A version of this blog was originally posted on luckierethinktank.com.)