Agreed recently to provide an interview to help somebody with their dissertation on Influence Marketing, so the following gives an introduction into this subject. The artcle covers the difference between Social CRM and Influence MarketingCovering the difference with CRM and why you need both as part of any Social Selling program.
In addition it serves as a FAQs to my blog. These are the questions I get asked most frequently.
The materiel is reproduced here as it was part of the agreement that anything I create in the interview, I own and can reuse on this blog.
The questions are in normal text and the answers in bold.
Interview with Timothy Hughes, August 2014
By Jessica Dibady
1) On your LinkedIn profile, we can read that you are a Social Selling Evangelist, Market Influencer, Storyteller and Tech Blogger. Could you please explain what is a Social Selling Evangelist?
Selling has not changed, since I started 25 years ago. What has changed is the ability to use new technologies to help us sell. For example, Social Media listening, LinkedIn, Enterprise Social Networks, etc.
When I was at school, there was one BBC micro, 3 TV channels and the PC had not been invented. Today, when we want to buy a new product or service, we don’t call a supplier. We search on Google, ask friends, colleagues and influencers. We go to chat rooms, and use Social Media to do our research.
That means that by the time somebody comes to purchase something, they probably know more than the sales person. In fact they may have already made a purchase decision. 25 years ago customers got 80% of product data from the supplier, now it’s 20%.
Social Selling is the ability to use Social Media to supplement a salesperson. As an evangelist, I speak at conferences and support companies who want to implement Social Selling.
2) From your Sales and Supply Chain management background, how did you profit from these Social careers in your work and what kinds of experience have you take in?
Using Social has enabled me to spread a message, wider in the online world. Often this has been picked up by the offline world where I have gained speaker engagements, offers to guest blog or write in the press, etc.
On my blog I explain how we have used Social Media listening to gain leads and to exclude competition from deals in sales pursuits.
3) How would you define Influencer Marketing?
A primary objective of an effective Marketing department is market place visibility. The team needs to build awareness for a product, company, or other positive change.
But, often, awareness isn’t enough. How can Marketing move beyond mere visibility to engage customers, generate leads, or encourage purchase behavior? One tactic for generating influence is to “borrow” it from those experts or individuals who already have the ability to persuade or move customers to take action.
Successful influencer marketing isn’t just about paying boldfaced names or social media stars. It has its own nuances.
People love to have a third party view on any discussion, especially if that person is independent. In the past people turned to companies such as Gartner, Forester but in the “new world” of Social, a new independent person has emerged that has a view point. The blogger.
Bloggers, generally are not connected to any major product or brand and are therefore seen as trusted advisers.
Influencer marketing is about getting influencers to say “nice” things about your brand.
Below you can see there are different types of influencers, such as Journalists and Analysts, each company may have different individuals to face off to these people. For example PR. Bloggers, may have less influence, but may have a higher level of trust.
The diagram below explains the difference between Influence Relationship Marketing (IRM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
4) How long have you been an influencer? Based on your experience, why should brands work with influencers?
I’ve never been aware I was an Influencer, but started getting contacted by companies, probably 18 months ago.
Brands should work with Influencers as they have a higher level of trust by consumers; in most cases they are independent.
5) What would you say are the differences between Word of Mouth and Influencer Marketing strategies?
Below is a diagram from Forrester which explains the different Marketing techniques and the level of trust your customers gives it. As the level of trust goes up, the more a company or brand losses control.
For example; Marketing from your Marketing department, is highly controlled. You choose the wording and the messaging. Customers will usually say “they would say that wouldn’t they” and it is seen by customers as biased.
As you move up the graph, as you lose control of what is said, you gain trust.
The next level of Marketing you should introduce is to get your channel to market for you. Again, the charge of “they would say that” can be leveled against you, but often these partners will own customers relationships at individual accounts. For example, they may be trusted advisors at a customer or account level.
Customer advocates are a key component to the marketing mix. Often the people that will speak for you can turn and speak against. But if run properly these individuals can be harnessed to provide input into product development and innovation as well as saying nice things about you. I know a person who is a MicroScooter product advocate and he is proud of the product and the changes he has enabled. He tells me about it all the time and now I am telling you. That, is great marketing.
Influencer Marketing is a natural extension of traditional marketing efforts, according to Demand Gen Report’s 2014 Content Preferences Survey, 72% of respondents turned to peers for relevant content when researching Business to Business (B2B) purchasing decisions.
According to Marketing Automation Company, Marketo, one third of B2B organizations currently have a digital influencer marketing program.
6) How would you describe an influencer? Which role does he play for the brand?
To quote Influence Marketing company http://www.onalytica.com “Influence can be defined as the capacity of an individual, organisation or publication to impact upon the actions, views or opinions of others over whom they do not hold power. Influence is topical – that is to say, the amount of influence a stakeholder has will vary by subject matter, whether this be smartphones, fashion or finance. For example, an article in the Financial Times (FT) about the performance of a major public company is likely to have a larger impact upon the firm’s corporate reputation and stock price than a similar piece by a private blogger. However, the FT probably has less influence than many blogs when it comes to subjects such as climate change or wildlife.”
I’ve also borrowed this Influence map from http://www.onalytica.com which is a graphical representation of Influence in the online world.
Note: This Influence Map may not cover the whole Social Graph, the reader therefore needs to understand what Social Graph it covers; Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and the methodology in its creation.
People need to understand that in many cases there will be influencers in the online world, but there are also influencers in the off line world. Many journalists for example, work in the off line world and as they see their world published in newspapers they fail to work in the online world.
As part of any influence marketing program, I recommend you look at both aspects, as often there is little or no overlap.
7) It is not new knowledge that Storytelling is critical for companies. How are influencers a good fit for companies to spread Storytelling?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
Stories are a way to get a point across; Influencers, Brands and in fact anybody trying to get a point across should look at Storytelling at a technique.
8) I have read different articles on Internet and the assumption was that Influencer Marketing is more efficient when launching a product or for an event. What is your point of view on this topic?
Influencer Marketing is certainly one of the tactics that a company should have in it’s marketing mix.
I’ve seen examples where this can certainly “short cut” certain activities, but it can back fire.
To quote Julie Ogilvie, Research Director at SiriusDecisions and presenter of the Influencer Program of the Year Awards. “B2B organizations need to create better alignment in order to make conversations and engagement consistent and thorough,” and followed up by saying “Companies are thinking about how to leverage influencers, and areas like content marketing are the major causes for this demand.”
9) Have you already observed a failure in the market when using Influencer marketing strategy? Can you say more about it?
Influencing the Influencers is critical to success. This does not mean approaching an Influencer and trying to sell to them. There needs to be a reason why you approach an Influencer, the Influencers needs to respect you and you must demonstrate value. I’ve heard of companies that have dispatched a salesperson with a “standard” White Paper; it didn’t work. Your risk is that Influencer can then Blog about it negatively. Refer back to the point on Trust vs. Control before.
10) Do you think that there are only special cases where Influencer Marketing strategy can improve brand identity?
I’ve seen examples in both Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) where influencers have backed products and this has created “buzz” in the market. This has then carried initial sales of the product, before the traditional marketing kicks in.
New Product introductions (NPIs) would be great examples of this.
11) In your opinion and despite the sector, could any company take advantage from influencer marketing?
My view is yes, most B2B and B2C can employ influencer marketing. When added to the marketing mix, influencers can help amplify a company’s marketing message and, in turn, reach a wider audience.
12) When you answered to my tweet on August 2nd, you wrote at the end: “The devil is in the detail…”. Considering your comment, which kinds of factors make Influencer Marketing so challenging?
See my answer to question 9. Many organisations think you find influencers then dispatch sales people with a piece of standard collateral. Job done. Fail!
There is a whole process to manage, from finding the influencers, executing your plan to influence them. There is also the post “event” process to maybe nurture these Influential relationships.
13) Do you have an anecdote to tell regarding your participation to influencer programs?
Took part in a recent Social Media event. A product got 30 Influential Social Media into a (all expenses paid) hotel for two days. From this I gained 29 new Social Media contacts, which has taken my @Klout score from 65 to 71.
Great example of “value” I obtained by attending the event.
The organizers took two months to find the right candidates. They only invited people with @Klout of 60 and above, but also looked at up and coming people and not just “Tier 1” influencers.
For more information contact @timothy_hughes