New study report by Brian Solis, in collaboration with Traackr and TopRank Marketing, helps answer the question: What is the future of influencer marketing?
“To help set our bearings, I partnered with influencer relationship management software provider Traackr to survey brand strategists and marketers around the world. The goal was to learn how influencer marketing is evolving and how to connect the dots between ¨influencer marketing¨ as it exists today to ¨influencer relations¨ of the future. I call it ¨Influence 2.0¨, and it’s meant to help us see the forest through the trees¨.
Recently, in one of my latest blog post: How To Measure Influencer Marketing Strategy Results, I presented the merits of the Cross-Functional Influence Model, from Traackr. This comprehensive mix-marketing model recognizes the specific roles of influencers within organizations, the relationship involving different departments, and the potential outcome of each. Over time, it was the option most likely to meet the expectations of the companies with which I collaborated. It is also one of the key elements emerging from the new Influence 2.0: The Future of Influence Marketing, produced by Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis, and sponsored by Traackr and TopRank Marketing, with almost half (48 %) of respondents who opt for the multi-functional model.
For this report, Traackr and TopRank surveyed more than 100 marketing professionals from leading international leaders including Microsoft, American Express, Amazon, Adobe, 3M. The chief analyst of the Altimeter Group wrote the report. 70% of respondents were from companies with more than 1,000 employees, of which 36% were Fortune 1000, and half were VPs or more.
Relations with influencers become strategic
One of the first points of the report is that the true potential of influence marketing on social networks rests on the quality of relationships developed with influencers. For 71%, it has become a strategic goal. However, Solis observes a certain lack of investment by organizations, leading to a delay in the integration of strategic priorities. For 3 out of 4 respondents (75%), the influence marketing budget is less than $ 250,000, and 84% of the investments are for content (22%), staff (20%), Events (17%), technology (13%) and agencies (12%). Barely 10% returns to influencers, and 6% to strategic consultants.
A corporate gap is particularly evident in the case of B2B marketing strategies, where barely 4% of respondents admit that they have well integrated influencer marketing programs, while a little more than 10% (11%) reveal that the process is proceeding. However, almost half (49%) agree that they are still in the experimental stage, while just over 1/3 (36%) are still at campaign activation level. The analyst’s report argues that these figures show that companies and organizations tend to focus on tactical influence programs rather than build longer-term relationships with influencers. Quoting his colleague, Brian reminds us that it is high time that influential marketing becomes mature. “A Return on Relationship is the value that is accrued by a person or a brand due to nurturing a relationship over time. This will demonstrate that the influencer is true to the brand, and this true relationship connection will pass through to the consumer “- Ted Rubin, CMO Brand Innovators.
The multiple facets of social media influencers
This is a finding that is repeated regularly in several studies on influence marketing but is more prevalent in this new report. The influence in social media can take on many facets, and consequently involves several departments within organizations.
However, at the organizational level, there appears to be a gap between program managers and the team responsible for implementing them. Only 16% of respondents cite the PR as the influential marketing budget holder, while 70% of respondents reported influencer programs belong to the marketing department. Similarly, organizations identify the leadership of the CMO (34%) and CEO (27%) is needed to carry out the digital transformation, the CIO / CTO (19%), CDO (15%) or CXO (5%).
84% respond spontaneously to the social media team, and almost 2/3 (65%) to public relations officials, or the product department (64%). Only 14% believe that customer service should also be involved in relationships with influencers. Whereas influential marketing programs should be focused on consumer needs, as the author points out, quoting Michael Troiano, CMO Actifio: “What customers want is intimacy…they expect to be understood as individuals and to be treated like people. What marketers want is scale, the ability to touch lots of people at the most efficient CPM possible. The reason to get excited about social marketing is that it offers the promise of ¨Scalable Intimacy¨, really the first medium to do so. And authenticity is the currency of this medium. You can’t ¨fake it¨, by definition.”
New role of influencers: becoming the lever of relations with consumers
According to the Traackr and TopRank Marketing survey, over the next 3 years, the role of social media influencers will be firmly integrated into practices (57%) and become a multi-functional discipline (48%), and will represent a part (28%) and a transformation catalyst (27%) of organizations. Finally, one of the most positive notes of this study is that companies and organizations finally seem to realize that marketing strategies of influence on social networks can bring them more than just promoting the message. The report clearly shows this with the list of 10 goals set by the hundred marketing experts who contributed to it. For the vast majority of marketers, brand loyalty (94%) and expansion of recognition (92%) come before the shares (86%) and the sales conversions (74%).
In his 36-page report, Brian Solis also provides examples of cases (such as Orange and SAP) that support the 2.0 influence concept, based on relationships with influencers. According to the author, influential marketing strategies must be focused on the customer’s contextual experience. He then proposes to reinvent the mapping of the consumer’s journey, based on content that is centered on the needs of the customers and distributed by influencers and ambassadors. And, in turn, it presents the advantages of Traackr’s multi-functional influence model.
And finally, I offer another quote that explains the vision of the author and its sponsors. “There is no more B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human, #H2H. Social and marketing need to work together to personalize individual conversations, as well as deliver shared global experiences that crowds of common values can benefit from. This is what our social and digital mediums have gifted us, and how humans interact and feel more compelled to take action.”- Bryan Kramer, CEO Pure Matter.
What do you think about the future of influencer marketing? Share your experiences with influential social media marketing, and let us know the lessons you’ve learned.
(DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not sponsored in any way and has not been solicited by any of the study’s stakeholders. It is only as information and references that I have presented some excerpts.)