Great influencers have been influencing us and many of our leaders for a long time now. Krishna’s influence in shaping the epic of Mahabharata, Gandhi’s influence on Mandela or Martin Luther King’s influential speech.
The business world uses influencers in a way that’s a tad bit different. Here, influencers play a great role in building a brand, making it thrive through thick and thin, or killing it all together. Influencers are very critical entities for any brand whose words and thoughts are more trusted than anyone else’s.
An influencer can be a celebrity or an endorser, a customer or a consumer, a marketer or, to a publisher, a fan or a follower and the list goes on and on. Basically, anyone who has an opinion and has a voice that gets heard can become an influencer.
Influencer marketing is the process of getting an idea backed by professional and user feedback and recommendations. To put in more apt words of our well known encyclopedia, Wikipedia:
Influencer marketing , (also Influence Marketing) is a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of recent practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than on the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.
It is the market of a new era of social media. Influencer marketing swept in very swiftly while the world was still getting mesmerized with the whole social media wonder. It has started already. Brands and their influencers are using powerful tools of social media giants like, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn , Pinterest, Tumblr, WordPress and Instagram, to just name a few. 2014 is going to see a massive war of influencer marketing to cut the chase of adaptive life cycle of brands.
Today, it’s not just about creating a brand or a service offering but also to build long term associations with people. To take it from the 4 Ps of marketing, it’s a marriage between ‘Product, People, and Promotion’. Our products or services need approvals and associations of certain dignitaries from the society and also from the business circle to be considered as commercially and socially viable. Hence, this theory can be resonated with the 4Ms of influencer marketing – Make, Manage, Monitor, Measure, as coined by Author Danny Brown in his book ‘Influence Marketing’.
- Make or set the influencer position, i.e. at which stage the influencer is needed. Match the influencer with the product life cycle and pre/post purchase stages.
- Manage the influencer voice by making it more viable for the stage of PLC you are targeting. Words, emotions, language, tone, vigor etc. can be altered and put forward to create a mix of any kind of connect with the market, be it positive for us or negating anyone else.
- Monitoring the influencer marketing campaign is the most important and the most interesting part. This is where you can touch a niche, this where you create loyalty or, for that matter, distress. Monitoring, which is a focused group that is actively responsive to your influencer, can give you a lead to create secondary and tertiary level influencers. These groups can be motivated from time to time by certain recognition so that they are compelled enough to start influencing others and taking ownership of the ideas. This is where we cover a greater media.
- Lastly, Measure. Measuring a campaign is always very challenging. Thanks to our beloved online marketing possibilities, things are little bit easier. Measuring Influencer marketing is very crucial, in terms of answering certain questions : how effective was the whole campaign? How effective was the reach of our influencer? What was the overall response for the product or services? Over visits to your online pages, blogs and handles? Overall effect brand equity? Competitor responsiveness etc.
Influencer marketing is the new ‘Indirect marketing’ revolution, where we have come a long way through touch and feel and physical evidences for our purchase decisions; we are now being compelled to Think More, to Analyze More, to Compare more, to Follow more…
It’s definitely a boom for marketers but for a consumer, the questions remain – Are we Smart yet? Are we Influenced yet??