Next Gen Word of Mouth: the Social Media Influencers
Word of mouth is the holy grail of marketing.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all else. And this “social proof” is just as relevant online, with a Search Engine Land study stating that “72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations”.
Social proof: next gen
Savvy marketers are taking a proactive approach to this kind of social proofing by engaging the services of social media influencers to promote their brands – those with an online or real-world standing, who are in a position to influence their followers in the social media space.
How much does Michael Jordan cost?
While celebrities are the most obvious example of social media influencers – for example, Nike uses the basketball star Michael Jordan as an influencer – there are less costly options available to the marketer. Bloggers, YouTubists, Twitterers and more are often “celebrities” in their followers’ eyes and offer an outlet for marketers to exploit.
What influencers can do for a marketer…
Influencers communicate your brand’s messaging to their followers through their social media platform. While you brief the influencer on your messaging, it’s up to (say) the blogger to choose how to express their opinion in an actual post. While some marketers might flinch at the idea of relinquishing such control, the right influencer can create far more passionate, meaningful and inherently targeted content than other content providers – if you employ the right one…
How to find the right influencer
Everyone wants to be a social media influencer; the internet is awash with blogs on how to become one. Tracking down the right influencer, then, can be a chore – so how do you maximize your chances of finding a suitable one?
Research blogs related to your industry.
Monitor prolific posters in comments sections.
Search social platforms such as LinkedIn to locate smart influencers with an informed voice plus a real following.
Monitor Twitter to see who is trending with hashtags related to your industry.
Locate posters who are talking about your competitors; win them over and you could find yourself with a powerful ally.
Head here for more information about the types of social media influencers out there – and how to engage with them.
There are also services specifically designed to bring brands and influencers together, such as Triberr. These services let companies create campaign pages detailing pricing, campaign duration, milestones and more, and it’s then up to the influencers to prove their credentials in their applications. In effect, it’s Kickstarter for sourcing social influencers.
Be upfront and transparent
Where the practice of influencing becomes shady is when social media influencers don’t state that they are acting on your behalf. There are rules and regulations both in the UK and in the US that stipulate influencers must disclose their association with you or you could be held liable – worse still, damage could be caused to your brand when you’re “found out”.
For instance, Microsoft was recently discovered to have employed slippery social influence practices to promote its Xbox One console, which angered the very audience it was trying to appeal to – the highly vocal gaming community.
Social media influencers can be highly effective allies, creating positive word of mouth with minimal marketing spend.
Choose yours carefully and ensure they disclose that they are working for you.
Ensure you have a clear communications plan and policy between yourself and your influencer.
Monitor their output to check you remain in agreement about how your messaging is being promoted; a single off-message or inaccurate posting could harm your brand.