Influence (or influencer) marketing is a trend that is starting to pick up steam, though, surprisingly, not much has been written about it yet – at least, not much that is useful and actionable.
Before we dive into this blog post, let’s define influence marketing:
Influence marketing identifies people that have influence over potential buyers and focuses marketing efforts around these influencers. (Thank you Wikipedia for letting me paraphrase you.)
OK, now that we have that settled, it’s time to learn more. A few weeks ago, I saw a podcast on influence marketing from one of my favorite bloggers, Mark Schaefer, and I knew I had to take the time to listen to it. I am glad I did, because he and his co-host Tom Webster shared some great nuggets of information during the 35 minute conversation.
Here’s what I learned about influence marketing and how it can impact your brand:
Influence marketing is all about blogger outreach
Tom is training for the Boston Marathon and was looking for reviews of a New Balance running shoe that he wanted to try out. When he did a web search for reviews, he found 10: four from running stores and six from bloggers who had been given a pair of shoes by New Balance to try out. Note that not one review came from traditional media, aka, a running magazine.
Takeaway: Identify bloggers who cover your industry, and determine which would be the best advocates for your brand.
Bloggers are trusted sources of information
Mark noted that a lot of research has been done on blogger credibility, and even in a B2B environment, reviews from bloggers are more highly regarded than reviews from friends. Mark said that the more he thought about it, the more it made sense: Bloggers study this stuff and they’re passionate about what they blog about. The people who follow them trust them.
Takeaway: Take a look at the engagement that these bloggers get – do they get lots of comments on their blog? Do they write regularly? What is their Klout score, aka, how much do they contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way?
Trust = influence
That leads us to our next point: Mark and Tom both emphasized that trust IS influence. Your blog cannot become an infomercial for products or services, or you’ll lost your audience’s trust. Obviously, that means you HAVE to share only high-quality information and disclose any relationship you have with a company whose product or service you are writing about.
Takeaway: Make sure these bloggers are very transparent about what they write about and conistently share really great information.
Trust is built the old-fashioned way
For influence marketing to work, you have to establish a relationship with true, trusted influencers. Once you EARN that trust, you will get organic advocacy.
Takeaway: Make some effort to build a relationship with these bloggers. Leave comments on their blog. Follow them on Twitter and share their tweets. Join their conversations. THEN ask them if they’d like to try out your product or service.
Have you successfully used influence marketing for your own company? What other tips can you share?
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