Digital influencers are the new celebrity and brands everywhere are exploring ways to recruit them. From everyday engagement to assembling teams of brand ambassadors to placing product to inviting them to live events, markets seek to close the gap between digital influencers and the active digital customers who follow them. Many digital consumers rely on the experiences and insights of their peers to make decisions about brands and products. By aligning with digital influencers, brands can earn a form of peer-to-peer validation and reach that traditional marketing often misses.
Often times however, influencer engagement is confused or limited to traditional promotion and endorsements.
“Hey, let’s find people with thousands of followers and let’s make them promote for us. I’m sure no one else is asking them! Oh and give them this list of rules to follow so they stay on brand.”
The bottom line is that influencers act as strategic resources to consumers seeking direction. This is why brands must engage them to serve customers. In the cases where brands do so, Launchmetrics learned through its annual research on the subject that engagement contributes directly to business goals.
How so? Let’s take a look at Launchmetrics’ report…
- 93% of marketers consider influencer engagement as an effective strategy for building brand awareness.
- 76% consider influencer engagement effective in lead gen. And, the same number see it as effective in garnering customer loyalty.
If you’re marketing is held accountable to ROI, then Launchmetrics’ numbers should help you make the case. Influencer marketing works. But if it was that easy, then everyone would do it and as such would mean that influencer engagement would become just another marketing commodity. So what challenges do marketers face as they approach their digital influence strategy?
- 75% find it difficult to find the right influencers.
- 69% are challenged with identifying the right engagement tactics.
- 53% are need to find better ways to measure program performance.
Other significant roadblocks include tracking influencer activity and securing budget.
You get out of influencer engagement what you invest in it. More so, everyone wins, when you think about how to deliver value to and through influencers so that they along with those who follow them walk away from each engagement satisfied, informed, inspired, entertained, etc. What does influencer engagement look like at a high level? There are many ways to work with digital influencers. Launchmetrics learned that marketers focus on the following…
- 67% partner with influencers to promote content.
- 59% rally influencers to amplify product launches.
- 59% extend the brand through original influencer content creation.
What was interesting is that 23% of marketers understand the power of SEO and SMO (social media optimization). This is a big deal because content promotion and content creation, when created, distributed and tagged strategically, boost SEO in ways that outperform traditional search engine marketing (SEM).
And, really, that’s what this comes down to. Awareness, discovery, reach, all equate to branding in the new digital real. Digital influencers connect the dots between answers and questions, decision and discovery, aspiration and real life. The secret to influencer engagement though is to first appreciate what it is you want to influence. Then you have to connect the dots between what it is you want people to share, think and do. This is the hard part.
Identifying and connecting to influencers is much easier, even though it’s not that easy, than actually influencing them and their community. You have to start with the definition of influence. Any dictionary will define influence this way, the ability to cause effect or change behavior.
This is where influencer marketing begins.
You must first answer what effect do we wish to cause or what behavior do we wish to inspire. Then you identify your target influencers and build meaningful programs around them to bring your vision to life.
From awareness to sales to loyalty, digital marketers see results. But, it takes vision and work to inspire meaningful engagement in ways that people trust and follow.
Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.