These days there is a lot of hype around influencer marketing which key marketers would say is understandable. Today consumers have more access to product information on the web via product and customer reviews as well as people recommendations and they don’t trust brand communication and advertising anywhere near the same level as they did in the past. Brands know consumers have woken up and engagement need to take place at a more personal level.

So the rhetoric today is “let’s call the influencer marketing companies and put a plan in place”. But here’s the problem. The reality is that one often end up with an influencer program that merely ticks the “reach” box with celebrities who have a gazillion followers with no focus on two way communication. And then you often hear the comment,” we’ve tried it, but it did not work”. Let’s face it, managing an influencer program is hard work and can be daunting.

It normally starts off with the selection of the right influencers. A good starting point would be to look for influencers who are already existing “brand fans”. For example – if you are looking for an influencer to promote XYZ dogfood for instance, you need to find those individuals whom already use XYZ as their preferred dogfood. Essentially within the spectrum of dogfood, they’ve made the choice to spend on XYZ for certain reasons, so why not rather use them as influencers for XYZ as they already have a strong belief in the product BUT don’t communicate this to their friends/followers unless perhaps prompted to do so. This is not rocket science, from day one brands wanted their own clients to promote their products. Therefore your influencer marketing company should have access to a strong database of potential influencers to allow you to sift through the correct brand matching influencer, as a starting point. Not all info required would be available from the initial listing, but the influencer company must be able to confirm this crucial info via two way communication, in this case for instance if you have a dog, what dogfood do you feed him?

Then although the consumer is a fan, it does not mean he is an expert and he or she possibly only knows 20% of what the brand want them to know or think they actually know. So that’s why product training is as important in your influencer program. You need to insist on meeting the individual influencers in person and transfer in depth product knowledge onto them. The objective would be to elevate these influencers from everyday consumers, as a result of the superior product information they obtained.

Now you can bring together engagement via word of mouth conversations, knowing you have access to a brand fan, whom have superior consumer knowledge on the product. Using everyday consumers, is great from a practical point of view, because they are accessible within their communities to have those conversations and engagement. They don’t force themselves onto potential customers, but rather engage when it is convenient. Also they would represent the typical customer profile, so you don’t end up with a 21 year old student trying to convince a 40 year old mother with three children that product ZZZ is the best immune system booster. So in essence they are all of a similar disposition and through this type of engagement the influencer can in an authentic way share product info and testimonials from their own experience.

But when you use everyday consumers and influencers, you need to deploy mechanisms, which would trigger brand communication. Some form of identification is required, in terms of linking the brand to the influencer. This could be done via product visibility, perhaps some form of identification on clothing, or even branding their personal cars linked to ad-hoc social media activity. All of these act as triggers for those valuable product conversations with people from their communities or area of influence, both on and offline. Don’t be afraid to position them as influencers for the brand, as they were fans in the first instance.

Without an influencer program this is a natural progression for brands, but it does not occur as many times and as frequently as brands would like. Therefore introducing influencers early on, ensures that many more conversations take place early on in the life cycle of a brand to engage as many potential consumers, where after the natural conversations will take place but now off a much larger base.

If you want to learn more about the deployment of consumers as influencers visit www.theSALT.co.za


Article originally posted on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/reality-brand-influencing-pieter-groenewald/

 

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