Positive word-of-mouth has always been a key component in marketing strategies for brands to use to reach new customers, new markets, or to change perception. While we’re all naturally skeptical and tune out most advertising messages, we’re fundamentally inclined to seek out an opinion we trust when making an important purchase decision.
With the proliferation of social media, and the democratization of online publishing, the role of word-of-mouth has rapidly expanded into a new tool for marketers- something that has the structure of publishing and traditional advertising (and sometimes the cost), but can have much more impact in swaying opinions- influencer marketing.
The Power of Influencers
Right now, there are communities of people having conversations about your industry and your brand. If you’re lucky, or you’ve already done some work in the space, these conversations may be happening on a property you manage. It’s much more likely, however, that influential people are involved in conversations without your brand being aware, or being involved. And that’s okay!
What makes online influencers so valuable in the marketplace is their authentic connection to their fans and followers. You need to know who these folks are, however, so you can follow them to see what kinds of conversations they’re involved in, and be prepared for when they have something to say (good or bad!) about your brand. You may even want to partner with them in some way– but you need to find them first.
Metrics to Measure Influencers
Let’s review some metrics and strategies for identifying influential people who are relevant for your business.
There are many loud voices out there. Keeping an eye on engagement rate helps identify who is truly putting out content that others are finding useful, and who is just making empty noise. It is helpful to look at their engagement rates– how many people are presumably seeing their content (followers), compared to how many people are reacting to it (likes, comments, and shares)? If a purported “influencer” has a huge following but nobody seems to be reacting to their content, then they may not be as big of an influencer as they may seem.
Similar to engagement rate, Share of Voice is a measure of how much attention one influencer generally gets in a particular conversation- a helpful way to determine their worth to your business. Tools like SocialMention are a good way to get a sense of an influencer’s Share of Voice.
Klout is a quick and effective tool for finding how influential people are in a number of topics. The services ascribes to users numeric scores based on their activity and influence, and outlines which conversations and topics in which that person is influential.
They even offer a handy plugin for your browser that can display Klout scores as you browse, so you do not have to leave and visit their site. This is a great help, as it helps you get attuned to who may be influential as you go throughout your day on the web.
There are many higher quality advanced tools available to marketers as well, such as Peerindex. It uses an ‘influencer graph” from over 300 million Twitter users to help identify influencers who could be relevant to brands. This is a paid service, but it offers a very powerful look into the social audiences that are relevant to brands and the conversations they’re having.
Identifying who is influential in your field is just the beginning. Influencer marketing is not a one-stop shop proposition, but an ongoing process within companies that encompasses many fields, including marketing, social media, and PR. While this may appear to be a challenging proposition, the effort will pay off in increased earned media and positive word of mouth.
AMA Boston is full of marketing influencers as well as those using our resources, events and networking to increase their knowledge and influence. Not a member? Take a look at what our chapter and AMA National can offer you, and join us today!