Sunday, 31 August 2014

Rise of the Influencers - The Marketing Middlemen

Did you know that the toothpaste you just picked up from the supermarket-aisle has hundreds of blog-posts dedicated to it? Or that your hotel-choice for that Malaysia-trip (which you think you made after sifting through scores of reviews and travel-blogs) has been carefully planted into your thoughts (Inception, anyone?) by serial-bloggers?

Welcome to Influencer Marketing - the jargon that's changing the business of selling! This novel technique is not only the cheapest way of grabbing consumer-interest, but also a very effective one! The examples of Juniper Networks, or the latest - Kotak-Jifi, are only a couple in the dense jungle of brands that are successfully embracing influencer-marketing.

So what exactly is Influencer-Marketing?

It's the art of knowing who'll improve your brand-worth, guiding the potential-influencer, and letting these "influence-agents" convince millions of people to try your product!

Who really are these "influencers"?

Influencers are mainly bloggers, microbloggers (think Twitter) and video-bloggers who spend most of their time online sharing their valuable opinion on various products and brands to their vast number of followers. These aren't ordinary blokes with an opinion but experts with an eye for detail (and a mouth for verbosity ;-) ).

How does one go about it?

Influencer-Marketing can be pulled off successfully only if the brand takes the time and effort to understand the influencers. I have a little checklist that'll guarantee you improve your sales-figures!
  1. Identify your clientele: The pitch that worked on a teenage-girl may cut no ice with her office-going mom!
  2. Attract and engage the online-media influencers: You have to work just as hard as the bloggers, if not more. Make sure they understand your offering and create the right kind of vibe. And of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Treat your influence-agents to exclusive-meets, company-branded mementos and prizes for the highest efforts!
  3. Be the boss: Remember, you can't delegate brand-maintenance to a bunch of writers. Make sure you direct the flow of your campaigns and reveal your product after the influencers have created some initial buzz. This'll generate curiosity and finally get consumers to buy to satisfy their cravings.
  4. Keep an eye: Monitor how your influencers perform. You must know the reach and impact of every influencer who works "with" you. The analytics should help you design your next campaign!
Here's a diagram (courtesy to help you remember the tips:-
Questions have been raised on the "reach" of social-influencers. After all, these agents can go only as far as their numbers (of page-hits, followers, comments, etc.) suggest. But in the long run, the depth of relationships that a blogger can maintain with her readers far exceeds that which a celebrity (who endorses a cream she'll never use) can forge with her viewers!

It's time brands took notice of this new element that's powerful enough to plant an idea into a consumer's head without his realizing it! If brand-managers don't make a move for "influencer-marketing", they'll soon be moving out of the market!

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