Day 3 WOMMA Summit: Working with âinfluencersâ
The theme of the third and last day of the WOMMA congress (click here for my reviews of day one and day two) was â€˜influencer’ marketing. Should a brand aim at the new â€˜influential’ people on social media, or quite the opposite? For the first time since the start of the congress the discussions were animated and the opinions differed widely. This is a sensitive topic and it is of course very state-of-the-art, after the â€˜virtual social drama’ caused by Klout a few weeks backâ€¦
Aim on â€˜influencers’, or not?
The days started with a panel discussion between Matt Thomson (VP at Klout), Peter Kim (Chief Strategy Officer at Dachis group) and Ed Keller (CEO at KellerFay). The interesting aspect of this debate was the difference between off-line and online influence. Ed Keller stated that the online influence is overestimated, whereas the Klout people obviously had another vision on that.
Keller states that people are influenced by a small group of confidants in their immediate circle of acquaintances or friends, rather than by Facebook and Twitter updates. At Klout, they prefer to focus on the online group and they are convinced that anyone who creates digital content has a certain influence. Klout positions themselves as a company which found an easily understandable way to reach online influencers. The easy access to these people is becoming their offer to advertisers; it almost sounds as if they are positioning as a media company where you can buy a new type of â€˜reach’.
I am with Keller’s point of view, that you cannot be influential in everything. Anyone has influence on someone on a certain topic. In order to be really influential (and therefore interesting to brands), it is of course more interesting that such a person also has a wide reach. 10% of people are influencers in several categories because of their personality; 20% of people are category experts. If these people also have a large network, they can be interesting to companies. It goes without saying that these people are not influential online only; they are also considered to be influential in their offline circles.Online and offline are the same world
Keller uses the Obama campaign as an example for this vision. This campaign is considered to be thÃ© campaign where social media really made the difference. Analyses proved that the social media impact was the icing on the cake. The real work was done offline. The campaign leaders searched for local influential people in almost every city and area. These people organised local meetings in their own home and told their neighbours about Obama’s story. In total more than 4 million people supported Obama’s campaign that way. The moment this movement became successful, it was also spread further via social media. That is when it started developing rapidly. It was far from the first time that social media were the consequence of a movement that originates offline.
There are several ways to target influencers. You can of course dive in by addressing people directly and asking them questions. This is actually an application of the top-down media approach on people with a high Klout score or with a lot of Twitter followers.
However you can also reach influencers by purchasing media in a different way, says Ed Keller. The media behaviour of influencers is different: influencers read more media, watch other TV programmesâ€¦ Current media plans rarely aim at reaching these people.
First the customers, then the influencers
When reading this day’s tweets you can feel that there is a lot of disagreement on the subject. Many people are wondering about adapting a marketing strategy to influencers. Would it not be better to approach each customer the same way?
My conclusion: companies can better focus on their customers in the first place. A customer who had a great experience will always be the most credible recommendation. Surveys we did at InSites Consulting proved that the main online conversation starters are offline brand experiences. Good products and a good service automatically ensure positive word-of-mouth. When that base is good and the company is genuinely interested in all its customers, then I think there is nothing wrong with targeting influencers. I am only hesitant about the opportunistic using of online influencers for campaigns, for example.
When determining whether someone is or is not an influential person, we need to look beyond a Klout score. People cannot be influential on every level. Look for credible influencers within a category and build a relation with those people. Do not use influential people as media. They are people and people like long term relations. I think you will obtain the biggest impact by thinking of the long term in this marketing field. What do you think?
Photo: Womma on Flickr.