Marketers, do your audience suffer from the following:

Decreased trust and loyalty towards your brand?

Lack of appetite for engagement?

Increased wariness and cynicism towards your marketing efforts?

If you’ve answered yes to any one of the above, then there’s a chance that your target audiences have fallen victim to the Influencer Influenza.

Spread, infect and influence

By definition, the word | in.flu.encer | is a person who has established credibility in a specific industry, has access to a large audience and has the capability to create influence by virtue of their audience reach and authenticity – most commonly in the context of social media platforms in today’s landscape.

But, did you know that influencer marketing was believed to have started before the turn of the 20th Century, with the Royal Warrant, a symbol often featured on the front or back of products commonly bought and endorsed by the royal households in Great Britain?

Fast forward decades later to today, and we’re in the era of User-Generated Content. This is the brave new world of influencer marketing where everything plays out online and allows anyone with a sustainable following to become an influencer.

Now, you’ve probably already seen day-to-day how leveraging influencers can be a powerful and effective way to enhance your brand’s awareness, regardless if you’re in the B2B or B2C space. It’s because your consumers find them more credible than your traditional celebrities – like listening to the views of a mutual friend, if you will.

Here’s the problem though: some marketers today are struggling to harness the power of influencers correctly.

Avoid the copy and paste disease to survive consumer fatigue

What are some of the common issues with influencer engagement?

  1. With some influencers, you tend to fall victim to the ‘template trap’ where they use the same content which they’ve created for their blog articles, video posts, etc. for other companies. The problem with that? It does not distinguish you from every other brand out there.
  2. Then there are those who love the messaging you’ve crafted in your brief so much that they copy it verbatim. In case you still have any doubts: the dog-days of push-marketing efforts are long gone. Your customers today buy into sincerity and want an authentic connection with your brand – and they aren’t hesitant to walk away if they feel like your influencer has been ‘bought’ by a brand.

This is why when it comes to dealing with influencers, you want to be sure that there is a shift in the tone towards something more sincere – one that takes on a human-to-human (H2H) approach, even in B2B.

This sometimes means that as a brand, you have to be prepared to relinquish control and allow your influencers to speak their mind because that’s what their followers have come to expect from them, and by relation, your brand.

Sounds like a case of the ‘tikam-tikam’ syndrome

By this stage, you should get the sense that selecting an influencer could either be extremely effective or terribly detrimental to your marketing campaign.

So, don’t rush into it. Just like how you’d take your time to get to know someone on your first date, do your due diligence by studying their social media feed, analysing their audience demographics – and not simply by playing a game of ‘tikam tikam’, where you randomly draw lots and decide who you’ll work with.

Case in point – the use of influencers and micro-influencers by Singapore’s governing bodies, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry for the Environment and Water Resource, to start conversations about the Singapore Budget 2018 and climate change amongst younger Singaporeans.

While tapping on these micro-influencers does showcase the marked shift in the way audiences today consume content – and create a buzz – they are not necessarily the best people to help raise awareness of government policies and programmes.

Here’s why: these influencers are not thought-leaders. Sure, their posts might have helped café owners to draw in crowds and sold make-up palettes by the crates. But they don’t have relevant expertise and experience needed to be educating key audiences on more serious topics like the Singapore Budget 2018. And by that, I don’t mean doing research on the topic for a few weeks before posting on their social pages. Or worse, copying blindly from a press kit.

How to treat the influencer influenza

This is why at MOI, our Influencer Marketing strategy is based on the foundation that thought-leaders ARE influencers. We scan the digital landscape for subject matter experts who have put in blood, sweat, and tears to become aficionados of their industries – and who have made it a point to share quality content not for their own profit, but for the purposes of educating others and sharing their passion.

The MOI way: instead of paying our influencers, we believe in working with our clients to provide the influencers with a value exchange that’s a win-win for both parties.

While the metrics for assessing influence in social media is still evolving, we’ve put our approach to practice with the “Digital Bank of the Future” campaign for Oracle. We engaged top digital banking influencers to promote the Digital Bank of the Future report – and in exchange gave them one-week exclusivity to the hero asset ahead of Oracle, and positioned them as thought-leaders. This brought both credibility and far-ranging reach to the project, creating an effective and extremely fruitful channel to market, with over 350,000 new contacts and an impressive $26 million pipeline in its first year.

The metrics would, of course, vary depending on your designated goals. But as always, before you implement your strategy, be sure that it’s aligned with your goals. It may seem pretty obvious, but trust me – in my experience, there’s nothing worse than finishing a campaign and having the wrong reporting metrics.

Influencer marketing has become one of the most powerful marketing tools. So use it to your full advantage and you’ll be able to turn this Influencer Influenza into (the right) Influence.

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