Much of influencer marketing is about advocacy and as the industry matures and includes more digital marketing intentions than PR, I believe influencers will be viewed more as partners than simple proxies for message distribution.
Or at least as chatty dinner guests like the motley crew pictured above from a NewsCred influencer dinner (LtoR: Rohun, Bryan, Joe C., Alicianne, Joe P., Chad, Jon, Drew, Ann, Sheryl, Michael, Rebecca, Moi and Michael.)
It’s a very surreal experience sometimes being treated as an industry influencer one moment and then working on influencer marketing programs the next. But hey, I’m not complaining. Seeing both sides helps me empathize and pass those insights on to our consultants and clients.
My view is that everyone is influential about something and because of ubiquitous internet connectivity, content and media creation technology and the growing drive to publish anywhere, anytime, people are more empowered than ever to create credibility and grow their own networks of influence.
But how are companies taking advantage of that influence?
Working with industry experts to co-create content over the past 5-6 years has taught me that influencer marketing shouldn’t be solely focused on connecting with popular people, but helping people become popular – for things that the community and the brand value.
Numerous influencer programs has also taught me that it is a formidable and time consuming endeavor to create relationships with important people and inspire them to collaborate on content in a way that meets a brand’s marketing objectives.
Even with a substantial investment in relationship building and time, content is the perfect object of mutual value exchange between brands and influencers.
The mutual benefit of content co-creation for both brands and contributors is fundamental: The influencers get exposure to the brand community and the brand gets exposure to better quality content shared with an entirely new audience.
Make no mistake, the demand for influencer marketing is increasing fast and the benefits are much bigger than advocacy.
Here’s why: As consumers become increasingly numb to formal marketing messages and advertising, their trust in information from peers, social network connections and industry experts has increased. That leaves some popular advertising formats out in the cold and the brands that rely solely on paid media for amplification even colder.
That all sounds promising, but there is a significant challenge to create scalable, effective influencer marketing programs. While there is increasing expertise, best practices and solutions, those involved with planning, implementing and measuring the performance of influencer marketing programs don’t always have the right tools.