This year, we see several online marketers going as far as referring to influencer marketing as the King of Content Marketing. Before jumping on the bandwagon and appointing influencers to talk about your brand for you, let’s first get a better understanding of the underlying principle.
The Power of the HerdNot to say that humans are lemmings but more referring to the lemming effect and that it is only natural for humans to find themselves attracted to whatever the majority of other people are up to. Have you ever been to Thailand? Then you’ve probably tried ‘Somtum’ (Papaya Salad) and ‘Tom Yam Kung’ (Spicy Shrimp Soup) because that’s what everyone recommends. This is a very simple example of how influencer marketing works because in reality, there are hundreds of Thai local menus to try but you will end up trying the dishes that you come across most often in reviews and recommendations. And when you decide to try something new on your own for your next meal, ironically you might find yourself pointing and saying, “I’ll have what he’s having.”
According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, “When you hear the same story everywhere you look and listen, you assume it must be true.” When you’re not able to make a decision given that there are too many choices or the lack of information about each choice, you tend to follow the herd. It’s only natural to do so.
According to Cavett Robert, a Sales and Motivation Consultant, “Since 95% of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.” The power of so-called social norms is further amplified in today’s digitally-oriented world. In the past, there are so many connections you make to different individuals who influence your choices. Today, social media enables us to connect to hundreds if not thousands of people across the globe every day.
Choosing InfluencersUnless you have a huge investment set aside for a single powerful influencer who you are absolutely confident about, you really should be working with a group of influencers as oppose to just one person. As described in the previous section, ‘The Power of the Herd’, following social hype or conforming to a certain idea tends to happen when the same content is repeated often enough that the same person sees it everywhere (or often enough) on the internet.
As such, when selecting digital influencers, a large audience base shouldn’t always be the primary criteria, but the power of their influence. Every influencer have a certain level of influence on their audience, some much higher and some to a lesser extent. Having ten influencers from the same industry of varying level of influence and audience base could expand your brand awareness and outreach considerably.
As a matter of fact, before choosing your influencers, first decide which online channels is most suited for your business. Is it Instagram, Youtube, Facebook or Tumblr? Only then would it make sense to research these channels and identify who the key players are.
Defining a Digital InfluencerA digital influencer goes by many names. Sometimes, they are referred to as internet idols and at other times as thought-leaders on a certain topic. Influencers themselves tend to be self-proclaimed gurus with strong opinions and expertise in a certain area. In bestseller, ‘The Tipping Point’, Malcolm Gladwell describes influencers or ‘Mavens’ as well-informed and knowledgeable people.
In the end, for brands that engage in influencer marketing, the challenge really is: how to influence the influencers. If they do not believe in your brand and product, their audience would have a hard time believing as well. On the other hand, when they do, a digital influencer may quickly end up becoming a brand advocate and not only bring in new opportunities but become involve in the entire customer journey.
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