How Influencer Marketing Is Useful In Ways You Might Not Have Imagined

influencer marketing

Influencer marketing had been “the next big thing” in marketing for—depending on who you ask—a couple of years or a couple of decades. And some academics actually pin the concept’s birth to the 1940s, with the publication of The People’s Choice, a book about how voters make up their minds in presidential elections. (Timely topic, right?)

But no matter how long you’ve been talking about it, there’s no denying that the practice is the current big thing. AdWeek recently featured a Google Trends graph showing the number of searches for the phrase “influencer marketing” over the past decade. It’s flat until 2012, and then: BOOM—a jagged but dramatic incline right through to 2016. And it’s especially on point when it comes to reaching college-age consumers.

Even with influencer marketing’s spiking popularity, the key to success is in the execution. Many marketers pay big bucks to sign “official,” big-name influencers to represent their brands. This can be an easy and effective approach when done correctly, but celebrity influencers usually lack the authenticity that today’s young adults crave, so the spend is often wasted.

As influencer programs have become more, well, influential, the discipline has been adopted in ways many of us didn’t foresee just a few years ago. Three things you should be thinking about:

1. For one thing, where influencers were once mostly confined to consumer-targeted campaigns, the practice now is a big part of b-to-b marketing. That stands to reason. Word-of-mouth and referrals are just as important in business buying decisions as they are in b-to-c. An IDC study found that peers and colleagues are the most trusted sources for business purchase information.

2. For another, influencer marketing can help brands win in more parts of the purchase cycle than you might have thought. We all got that it worked for raising awareness, but as this Entrepreneur column reminds us, think of the possibilities in the consideration (authentic product reviews and comparisons, for example) or purchase phase.

3. Finally, the practice might have had its beginnings in word-of-mouth and morphed naturally to take advantage of text-based social media like Twitter, Facebook and blogs. But as the Internet has become ever-more video-oriented and video-capable, so too has influencer marketing. From YouTube to Periscope, video online lends itself perfectly to influencer campaigns—giving influencers all-important creative freedom, as this Reelseo article points out, and giving brands inherently sharable content.

Sean Brenner has covered event marketing for more than 20 years,
including stints as managing editor of Event Marketer magazine and IEG Sponsorship Report.
He also once edited the bottle labels for Shiner beer.

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