From Advertising to Influencing
Because of technology, the most effective outreaches to society have drastically changed. Pew Research confirmed that 56% of all American adults now own a smartphone and 73% of all online adults use social networking sites. This constant connectivity makes people more influential over each other’s words, actions and even their buying decisions than ever before.
Influencer marketing, as described by Forbes, is a form of marketing that focuses specifically on key individuals instead of the target market as a whole. In a world gone social, 90% of consumers are influenced by their trusted networks, according to Millennial CEO. Currently, brands are seeing the greatest results from building trust and community through their influencer efforts instead of through advertising.
For anyone in marketing, they are very familiar with the 4 Ps – Product, Price, Promotion and Place. But as useful as the 4 Ps have been in years past with traditional advertising, they are quickly being replaced by a newer concept that is based around the wants and needs of consumers in the digital age.
Social media allows consumers to become active brand advocates who influence others through their authentic comments and reviews online. While influencer marketing isn’t completely new, it certainly has taken off and is becoming the go-to marketing tactic for many brands.
The 4 Ms of Influencer Marketing
Danny Brown, co-author of Influence Marketing, recently had an article published by Convince & Convert that introduces a new model for marketers to follow: The 4 Ms of Influencer Marketing. The 4 Ms are said to combine both old and new tactics to create a defined path for marketing success in social media. The basic components of this mix are:
Brown urges marketers to build personas and profiles based around the customer and where they are at in the purchase life cycle.
1) Research stage – looking for information
2) Awareness stage – wanting validation
3) Purchase Stage – ready to buy
Forrester reported that the average consumer will engage with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase. The majority, according to Forbes, conduct their own online research and then engage with more content to support their decision-making.
Today’s most successful brands understand that each stage presents the need for a different tactic and outreach, whether it’s awareness, advocacy or action. The end goal is to help spark conversation and guide social networks from the beginning to the end of their purchase life cycle. By mobilizing consumer influencers, this allows brands to find the people who will act as their gateway to the rest of the consumers.
Brown states that once the main online “influencers” have been identified, the flow of information to the their audiences of friends, followers and readers must be strategized and managed.
Nielsen confirmed that consumers are 5x more dependent on content than they were 5 years ago. Every product review and social media comment counts. To get the most positive reputation possible, a brand must create a shareable experience that triggers engaging consumer content. They should arm their influencers with relevant content, keep them up-to date with product releases, immediately answer any questions or concerns, and never be afraid to try to resolve negative comments or issues. Brands must continually and enthusiastically drive social activity to remain top-of-mind against their competitors and develop a long-term relationship with their consumer influencers.
As Brown describes, instead of simply monitoring the positive and negative portrayals of a brand, the focus must shift to intensely monitoring the relationship and engagement between a small core group of people – target customers and the circle of influencer(s) they rely on – and the dynamics that their conversations have.
ATYM Market Research determined that 39% of people have tweeted about a brand, 29% of people have retweeted a brand and 42% of Facebook users have mentioned a brand in a Facebook status update.
With so much conversation constantly taking place over social media, it’s hard to cut through the clutter. It’s important that marketers have a keen eye over the conversations influencers have with their social networks.
When working with an influencer, make it easy to share and make it easy to track where and when they have shared and how their audience reacted. Quality and quantity is key here. Traceable success is extremely important for a brand, and it completely relies on being able to monitor online content. Having strategic organization and categorization of influencers will only help this process.
Since influencer marketing is a non-traditional tactic, the way it is measured is different than what many marketers are used to. To accurately show a positive impact, we know any marketing initiative must produce some sort of traceable result. With influencer marketing, there are key questions that must be answered like:
How was the campaign perceived?
What message permeated the most?
How effective was the targeting?
What were the product reviews? and
How close to our goal did we come?
Referring back to Brown’s article in Convince & Convert, he suggests, “the ability to measure who’s responsible for what is the key to truly showing ROI as well as the value of proper influence marketing when integrated as a core part of a brand’s business objectives.” By answering questions like the examples above, a brand will be able to stay on track to meeting their main goals.
Mastering the 4 Ms of Influencer Marketing
Although traditional techniques and tools have been vital for a brand’s growth in the past, times are continually changing and marketers need to change with them. The natural evolution of the advertising industry only looks to be progressively growing in the years to come.
By analyzing the current digital dependence that has taken over society, mastering the 4 Ms is a key step in leveraging your best sales tool – people. To achieve the highest level of success, a brand must learn how to transform influencer marketing from a nice-to-have exercise into a powerful strategy. The sooner they do, the better off they will be.