Content Marketing Experts Define “Influencer Marketing”


(excerpt from Best Practices in Influencer Marketing)

Defining “influencer marketing” in the online space can be somewhat challenging as perspectives can differ wildly. Here’s a look at how experts in digital marketing are defining this term:

  • Influencer marketing is a new term for an old practice, says Ana Raynes, director of social media at the integrated marketing, PR, digital agency, Didit, headquartered in Mineola, Long Island. “It pre-dates the internet and can be said to extend at least as far back as 1924, when Edward Bernays brought silent era Hollywood stars to the White House to endorse the likeability of President Calvin Coolidge,” she says. “Nike’s decision to pay Michael Jordan $500,000 in the 1980s to do nothing more than wear Nike’s shoes ushered the tactic into the modern era. Today, influencer marketing is usually accomplished by finding a popular social media figure who in some way is ‘relevant’ to one’s brand, and inducing this person to mention the product one is promoting in his or her stream of communications to hundreds of thousands of online fans.”
  • Wilson Raj, Global Director for Customer Intelligence at SAS, says, “Influencer marketing is a strategic intent that directs the brand’s resources and seeks to encourage individuals or groups—customers, prospects, partners, etc.—to do something on behalf of that brand, with or without any expectation of mutual benefit.” It is that “expectation of mutual benefit” that can raise some issues, concerns and potential risks for marketers, as we’ll see.
  • “Influencer marketing is the concept of using industry influencers to promote your message to potential customers,” says Oleg Korneitchouk, director of marketing for SmartSites, an online marketing firm based in New Jersey. “Instead of marketing directly, you work with influencers in the industry to promote your message for you. These people are already established in the community and have followers who trust them. If they promote your message for you, it will convert much better than advertising directly to customers.”
  • “Influencer marketing focuses on key leaders that fuel your brands to wider audiences. Think of them as providing both amplification and echo for the signal of your brand,” says Mario Natarelli, managing partner with MBLM, a worldwide branding intimacy agency with clients such as American Airlines and AllianceBernstein.
  • Luca Alessandrini is a digital marketing specialist for Online Optimism, a marketing agency based in New Orleans. “At its core, influencer marketing is the acquisition of credibility,” says Alessandrini. “Influencer marketing allows a business to build brand trust, winning their audience’s attention, which might have quickly turned elsewhere. The figure selected to represent the company’s brand comes with all of the trust already tied to their image. A successful influencer marketing campaign occurs when the company and influencer values are aligned. However, influence is often confused with reach. The amount of followers your influencer has, does not matter if their words don’t have influence.”
  • “Brands have been using influencers to connect with potential customers for a long time,” says Brandon Loures, founder of Brandlift Digital Marketing in San Diego. “Influencer marketing is not a new idea at all but, it has taken on a meaning with a connotation to social media influence. The term ‘influencer marketing’ is now defined as leveraging the reach and influence of people’s (or animals’) social media following, in order to create brand exposure, trust, and recognition. Influencer marketing can very well include athletes, public figures and celebrities, however with the vast diversity of the internet’s niches you can target nearly any specific audience. Influencer marketing is the process of identifying social influencers in your niche, creating relationships with new brand advocates, and often paying them to connect with their audience.”
  • Elizabeth Venafro is cofounder and managing partner of True Exec, a digital platform where business owners, executive, decision-makers and investors share actionable advice. She says: “One of the best forms of marketing is ‘word of mouth.’  Influencer marketing has capitalized on this concept by identifying thought leaders within a certain target market and using them to make referrals to consumers who look to them for advice.  There is something more personable and credible about receiving a message from an individual versus a company.  With that being said, consumers are starting to become more hesitant to trust these brand ambassadors as influencer marketing becomes mainstream.  In some ways, it is just today’s version of hiring a celebrity to endorse your product. This can be more or less effective depending on the industry and product.”
  • “Influencers are people in your industry or community whose knowledge and access to the media or contacts within the industry influence others,” says John Cass, director of marketing for OnSource, in Braintree, Massachusetts. “Their comments and content will have an impact on what people think about the industry, and what actions they take. If an influencer is positive about your company, that’s good, and people may take the time to review your product or company. If they are negative, it will be tougher for the company to break through that negative view of the company.”

We think these are some pretty good definitions. How about you?

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Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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