It’s time for advertising and marketing professionals to start talking about influence marketing, not influencer marketing. Let me explain why.
Every marketer, agency and media publication is talking about influencer marketing, and 2017 has been deemed as the gold rush year for the advertising approach. Approximately two-thirds of marketers are utilizing influencer marketing as a core strategy, and the rest have tried it and are looking to increase their spend, according to Emarketer
The influencer marketing industry is currently a crowded marketplace of options, potential partners and uncertain results. Since this approach encompasses so much more than just an influencer, the time to evolve the language of the industry is now.
Influence marketing breaks through the content and advertising clutter with better creative, robust media performance and positive brand sentiment and reputation. This is accomplished through the six phases of influence marketing: setting campaign objectives, targeting audiences, casting influencers, building the creative, distributing at scale and measuring results.
1. Setting campaign objectives
Start your influence marketing program by setting clear-cut objectives. The main program objectives should include awareness, engagement, sentiment and action.
Awareness is characterized by campaign recall. Engagement is views, clicks, likes, comments and shares. Sentiment is represented by the way people feel about you, demonstrated in their comments and shares. Action is best measured through conversion.
The most experienced marketers rank these in their preferred order and will use this order to develop their creative, influencer casting, media plan and success metrics. As you can see, the actual influencer is only one piece of the puzzle.
2. Targeting audiences
Next, define who you are trying to reach. Go beyond simple demographics and paint a complete picture of your target audiences. Make these clear, deliberate and specific, utilizing up to 90 different criteria points.
Effective targeting will yield the greatest influence.
3. Casting influencers
Influence is also about casting the most impactful talent for a campaign. Mapping the crossover between your audience criteria and the fans of prospective talent can yield insights into potential influencer talent. These influencers can be social influencers, pop culture trailblazers, iconic celebrities, and even pets.
Knowing how to select the most manageable, creative, professional and brand-safe talent from the available pool of influencers is key to delivering the most effective outcome.
4. Building the creative
Effective creative can significantly increase campaign engagement rates and improve consumers’ attitude toward your brand. Stick to the best ideas, create multiple-length versions optimized for each platform and audience, and sequence your messaging throughout the campaign to increase media performance and sentiment.
You cannot leave the creative unsupervised in the hands of the influencer.
5. Distributing at scale
The content should first be distributed by the influencer on each of their selected platforms. In 2016, and again in 2017, the primary platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
If approached strategically, these platforms have the ability to deliver efficient reach, desired actions and positive comments. In our experience, we’ve found that Instagram delivers the best engagement, target audiences will watch more of your video on YouTube, and positive sentiment scores are twice the average on Facebook.
6. Measuring results
Influencers are measured, and influence is measurable. From video views to sentiment, there is no common platform standard.
There is a science and an art to measuring the performance of an influence marketing program. Understanding how to implement and interpret a brand lift survey and tracking conversions can be the difference between a clearly observable ROI and that “I think that worked, but I am not really sure” uneasy feeling that has blighted many early influencer programs.
In summary, the influencer marketing ecosystem is evolving, and how we define influence needs to evolve along with it. Reshaping the industry into a multibillion-dollar one requires a revolution of influence reigning over influencers.
Advertisers and marketers need to embrace the changes and develop their influence strategies alongside this progressing transformation that’s already sparked — now is the time to drop the “r.”
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