Building brand love through people with influence is not new.
When I started working in marketing with Jameson Whiskey, we were obsessed with the need to balance mass audience reach for our brand with our desire to connect with traditional influencers. These key individuals helped share our brand values in a more authentic way. PR agencies continue to play a key role in striking this balance, leveraging well tested networks and lists of contacts.
In a relatively small market like Ireland, the ability to keep influencer lists fresh or tailor these lists to a specific brand can be challenging. People with perceived influence can overlap with multiple brands in a short space of time. This may not be an immediate concern for the influencer or for the brand but over time credibility with consumers for these associations will eventually wain.
Digital channels can help brands to address this balance, if used correctly.
As social media channels have matured, brands now have the ability to dig below the more obvious influencers and use native social media platform tools or independent Social Media Monitoring tools to identify an undercurrent of rich online influencers.
At Olytico, we work hard to help our clients identify these people and while it may not exactly be as easy as A-B-C, using a clear template can help simplify this complex opportunity.
The sweet spot that Social Media Monitoring can help identify is (B) – People with Relevant Reach.
This audience, who are not your stereotypical well-known celebrities or influencers, tend to have credibility within a specific industry or sector and are open to building stronger associations with brands since they have already expressed an interest in the brand online. Brands have the opportunity to engage with this audience in a variety of ways from event invitations to sharing product samples. This type of influencer approach is still relatively focused with the aim of building meaningful relationships with people of both relevance and reach in the hope of creating a community of online brand ambassadors.
In terms of return on investment, the results from working this online segment can be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. Earned engagements (e.g. Likes, shares, Retweets etc.) and earned reach can be monitored and benchmarked over time. Sentiment can be measured through consumer comments on social media channels.
This approach does not remove the role of more traditional influencers (A) who still have a part to play in wider brand awareness strategies. The difference is that (A) influencers tend to be part of a PR agencies existing influencer list and would feature as part of a paid media influencer marketing activation. In this brand building activation, money is often exchanged, content is reviewed or signed off by the brand and words like #ad, #spon or #sp appears in the final content.
At the other end of the spectrum, consumers who positively engage with brands but who have limited online reach (C) still represent a latent opportunity for brands. Depending on the resources available to a brand, this cohort can be nurtured as the longer tail of potential advocates.
Ultimately Social Media Monitoring presents brands with the opportunity to activate influencer marketing and to identify key influencers who are already open to their brand values. It does not create a silver bullet for building brand love online. In a constantly changing Social Media landscape, where organic reach across all the major social media platforms if rapidly decreasing, media spend is increasingly important.
That said, this approach can set the scene for a brand to build ongoing partnerships with people who have relevant reach instead of just focusing on short term promotions with people who have reach but limited brand relevance.
Taking the A-B-C approach can help brands create a more tailored influencer outreach programme and help keep the Mass Reach vs Influencer balance in check.