In the past, looking for leaders in target markets was key. Some brands resorted to tapping celebrities in hopes of gaining a little influential glow from the popularity. Yet being a “leader” doesn’t always mean someone actually influences product buying or service usage.
Nielsen research shows that 92% of people trust recommendations from people they know. They also trust peer experiences in the form of online reviews. Friends and family (and online friends) are a key influence in driving brand choice and relevance.
According to a white paper by Brian Solis (“The Influencer Marketing Manifesto: Why the Future of Influencer Marketing Starts with People and Relationships, Not Popularity”), the “biggest barriers to work with influencers revolve around choosing who and how to engage.” Letting go of message control is also a difficult part of the influencer marketing campaign.
Influencers say that working through a PR agency or “influencer marketing platform” is the most effective way to work with brands. However, finding agreement between corporate goals and influencer results can be a hurdle: Marketers believe the most important platforms are 1) Facebook, 2) Twitter, 3) YouTube and 4) Instagram; while influencers see importance in 1) personal blogs, 2) Facebook, 3) Instagram and 4) Twitter. The personal blog is where a real influencer builds his or her own personal brand has a bully pulpit to voice their beliefs.
So why do people become influencers? Did you think it would be any reason other than money? Nearly 70% of influencers said they wanted to earn revenue. But they also wanted to make an “impact or affect change” or build popularity or be recognized as a “thought leader” in their field.
Influencer marketing is plowing new ground. There will be rocks and FTC guidelines (yes, disclaimers). There will also be some fertile ground that will yield for years to come.