Social Media continues to wreak havoc on corporate marketers and will continue to do so for a long time. The days of creating a message and buying a few strategic placements are long gone. Today there are more cable channels than anyone can watch and the web web is so fragmented that it’s unrealistic to think that a well placed ad can garner even mild interest. Along with fragmentation, there is an overwhelming amount of data that needs to be considered by marketers to do even the simplest tasks. When things get out-of-control, we tend to go back to what we know and just put a different spin on it.
Remember spokespeople? That one iconic image that would transcend buyers and connect with the masses. James Earl Jones had “the Voice”; the Beatles had “the Sound” and James Dean had “the Look”. Connect any of these to your Brand and hold on tight. Customers would forgive bad service or a little higher prices in exchange for pop-culture style influence.
Digital connectivity in general and Social Media specifically have changed those rules. The idea of attracting an influencer remains however, in social media at least, the execution of that is entirely mis-aligned.
There are really no iconic style influencers in social, it’s simply too new. Most social influencers are early adopters who have gained social media status by being an outlier and who are now seen as having expertise. These “experts” tend to exhibit influence based upon that expertise. Take Mommy Bloggers, Social Media Mavens or any other industry. These people were not even on the influence radar before social media. Now marketers revere them due to their 30k followers. The reality is they were early to adopt new technology and were seen as having unique perspective. As those early adopters gain more status, their views and perspectives tend to become more mainstream and less from the fringe. As their message becomes more mainstream, their expertise dwindles along with their status. It’s usually about this time that marketers identify these individuals who have built status, as influencers. Quick Question – Do these people who have accumulated status by being early adopters truly advocates of you products or just perceived as influencers by some staffer? Matt Riding created a great dialogue recently around developing an influencer program rather than an advocate program. The point is that influencer programs are pretty easy to execute, quick and easy to show improvements on certain KPIs (key performance indicators). Advocacy programs though are much more difficult to execute, they take a longer time to grow and it’s more difficult to show progress on KPIs. Spending time on advocates do prove very worthwhile. these are your customers, they spend money regularly with you and you now have the ability to get to know these people better than you could have ever expected…you just have to want to. Marketers still try to develop social influencer programs but are there really influencers that will get people to purchase your products?
The next time you plan marketing activities and can choose the quick win Influencer program or the “better-for-the-business” advocacy program make sure you understand the difference to your company and your career. If anyone understands the difference it is Matt Riding. Matt is better know in the social sphere of Twitter as @techguerilla and will be leading our discussion this week. Matt brings a wealth of experience with unique mix of technical, marketing and social know-how. The topic and questions this week will be:
Topic: Do Influencers Or Customers Buy Your Products?
Q1. Can a ‘influencer’ with 500 followers be as influential as someone with 500,000?
Q2. If context is so critical to understanding influence, do tools such as Klout have value? To whom?
Q3. How can we migrate from ‘influencer’ programs to ‘advocate’ programs?
Please join us in this online chat on Tuesday, May 17 at noon ET. Follow #sm111 from your favorite Twitter client or simply go to our LIVE page at www.hashtagsocialmedia.com/live. The format will stay the same with the first question starting at noon and a new question coming every 20 minutes at 12:20 and 12:40.