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There’s been so much noise around influencer marketing that it is very hard for people to even agree on what they’re talking about: social scoring and Klout perks? Advocacy programs and super fans? Or Traackr and contextual influencers (aka impacters)?
Last I checked, over 50 social media products* targeting marketers claim (true or not) to discover, track or connect you with ‘influencers’. How can it be expected of marketers usually running with their hair on fire to spend the time to review each solution and understand which use case it addresses?
In an effort to separate from the noise, we have promoted the notions of contextual influence and authenticity to fuel influencer campaigns. We preached, we evangelized, we trained, and we preached some more. While promoting a specific set of use cases for ‘real influencer marketing’, we implied that influencer marketing ought to become a thing, a new discipline, alongside “content marketing” and “marketing automation”.
We were wrong.
How do I know? Our customers told us so. Not in so many words but through their actions. Our work with brands and enterprises has come to represent more than half of our business (from a mere 20% a year ago). As technology travels inside their organizations, we’ve observed our customers’ influencer programs expand into more use cases on content marketing, social engagement, ad placement, SEO, marketing automation, advocacy, social selling, market research, and many more.
What our customers made us realize — through their expanded use of our platform and the practice it enables — is that influencer marketing is not a component of marketing alongside content marketing, market research and marketing automation. Instead it is the operating system for modern marketing.
In an online social world dominated by self-organized communities of people, knowing who is most likely to impact your business and developing relationships with those impactful stakeholders is paramount, irrespectively of a specific craft or initiative (what you do with that information will very much vary based on your craft and initiative). To the modern marketer, the world should be seen through the lens of these people contextually important to their brand, initiative or intent: becoming acutely aware of them and building strong ties to them is an essential ingredient of success.
‘Influencer marketing’ itself is too limiting and convoluted to express the bigger picture behind the marketing philosophy it represents and it’s time to outgrow the term to perceive the real value of its practice. This new relationship-based marketing is not a new marketing discipline, it is the new marketing. And just as it will be true of social marketing, a few years from now, there will be no need to describe marketing as being relationship-based because… what else would it be?
With our customers leading the way, it is time for those of us who built the category of influencer marketing to outgrow it and help build the new infrastructure for marketing.
Stay tuned, much more on this in the weeks to come...
(*) 33across Adobe Social Appinions Brand Watch CircleCount Cision Crowdly Crowdtap Dynamic Signal eCairn FollowerWonk Gorkana Influencer50 Insight Pool Instafluence Klout Kred LinkedIn Listly Little Bird mPact Occurence Onalytica Peer Index Raynforest SalesForce Radian6 Social Chorus SocMetrics Sprinklr Sysomos TapInfluence Tellagence Trackur Triberr True Influence ViralHeat Vocus… oh and Traackr :)