In April, I highlighted the 5th anniversary of my contribution to Maximize Social Business‘s social media blog. An important milestone in my career that I wanted to mention because it shows me once again that blogs prove to be the key – an influential marketing mistress. This key that allowed me to open many doors of digital marketing, and develop a more peripheral and global (360 degrees) view of influence on social networks. To get to know all these experts and to exchange ideas with them. I had the opportunity to observe the evolution of the Web and social media from the inside, and to see that the most significant changes have occurred in relationships between the brand and the customer.
The Impact of Connected Consumers
As Neal (Schaffer) points out in the preface to my book, one must consider influence marketing in 3 respects;
- That of influencers and ambassadors, whose distinguishing roles must be recognized.
- That of their own leadership. Influence must be built and developed to stand out.
- And, the users – consumers, who quickly became the first influencers of social networks. With famous cases like the blogger Heather Armstrong (@Dooce) and the Canadian musician Dave Carroll (@DaveCarroll) who have folded big brands like Maytag and United Airlines.
Over the past 10 years, influence marketing in social media has evolved very quickly. Just 12% of consumers still believe in traditional advertising. Recommendations from friends and experts are now the main source of buyers’ decision. Confronted with ad blockers, and the gradual loss of consumer confidence since 2008 – 2009, companies and organizations have had to adopt new channels to reach their customers.
The Different Roles of Social Media Influencers
Over the years, the types of influencers, and their specific roles have added to the rhythm of new social platforms. After the celebrities and corporate ambassadors, niche influencers and micro-influencers from interest communities have emerged. The main challenge for marketers was to make a role definition and to identify the right type of influencers according to the brand objectives.
From a definition based primarily on the scope of the network and the social capital of influencers (with celebrities and new stars of social networks), marketers gradually integrate content and commitment. Nowadays, influence marketing naturally converges towards value-added content, which is at the heart of strategies as shown by the latest studies. By 2017, credibility and commitment now count as much as the scope and amplification of the message. Improving brand advocacy (94%) and expanding brand awareness (92%), reaching new targeted audiences (88%) and increasing market share (86%) are the 4 main goals of influencer marketing. Far beyond improving sales conversion (76%) as demonstrated by the new study from Traackr and TopRank Marketing: Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influence Marketing.
See my article: Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influence Marketing
The Importance of Leadership to Stand Out
Also highlighted in the study of Traackr/TopRank Marketing, companies and organizations seem to demonstrate a greater maturity in their influence marketing strategy. Many are adopting it for themselves. Aware that they must build a reputation and credibility to regain the confidence of the population, they invest more in the creation and production of original content and in rely on opinion leaders and micro-influencers for content co-creation.
Today, customer relationships are a two-way street. They force companies and organizations to adopt a connected prospecting approach rather than direct sales. The connected consumer seeks authenticity and privacy; they require to be treated as an individual. Honesty and transparency have become the currency of social networks. Digital marketing requires a more humane approach. To (re) gain consumer confidence, marketers must accompany them along the way, and become a guide in their purchasing process. In this context, a blog allows should follow a client on his itinerary and meet his expectations at each stage.
The Added Value of Content Centered on the Customer Experience
According to Google’s analysis, connected consumers consult up to 10.4 articles before purchasing. 3 out of 4 will abandon their research if they don’t find the information they’re looking for. Businesses and organizations must stop talking about the customer, and put their experience at the heart of their strategies. They must give voice to users – consumers, and ensure that the recommendations come from them by the quality of their experience.
This requires a certain availability, listening, time and above all, empathy. “Before you can sell something to someone, you must first understand what is important to you,” says Brian Solis in his report of the new study of Traackr and TopRank Marketing. “Make the consumer the hero of your story.” adds Handley. ¨Paradoxically, your story is not about you, it is about what to do for others. This shift is subtle, but important because it places the consumer at the very heart of your marketing. It’s a focus on the customer, not the business. ¨ she recalls. Empathy allows one to think less corporate. To put on the skin of the consumer, and understand what motivates him. “This is a relationship-based activity, not a strategic dissemination mechanism.” concluded Brian Solis in his report.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe that content becomes the key – mistress of digital marketing? Share your opinion by commenting on this article.