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Why Marketers and Influencers Are Becoming Great Friends

The rise of digital influencers has been swift and powerful in the marketing ecosystem. We’ve reported before on how influencers have become more impactful catalysts for brand conversions, often taking up the mantle traditionally held by celebrity endorsers. However, new research suggests that digital influencers may be even more…influential…than previously thought.

According to a study by Twitter and analytics firm Annalect, roughly 40 percent of respondents reported purchasing an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube. Meanwhile, 20 percent of respondents said they shared something they saw from an influencer, while roughly 33 percent of millennials say they follow a creator on Twitter or Vine.

From the earliest marketing courses in university, we have been taught that the most powerful marketing channel is word-of-mouth. While social media has exacerbated the potential for word-of-mouth messaging to reach an audience beyond a user’s peers, this research speaks to the possibility that marketing itself is undergoing a foundational shift as a result of emerging technologies like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and most importantly, mobile devices that consumers use to research products and services throughout their daily lives.

YOU Can Drive Consumer Behavior

Today, everyone has the potential to influence consumer behavior. Saying that “influencers” are gaining power is an incomplete analysis, because the audience can and should be broken down into many different subsections and categories. What type of behavior is a particular user on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter driving? For what industries? And for what types of customers? The varying degree to which brands must slice and dice their influencer segments now rivals the extent to which they must create customer segments and personas. While this can make even a very savvy marketer’s head spin, successfully matching an influencer segment to a customer segment can result in massive results for the bottom line. If we have to generalize it, Twitter vp of market research and insights Jeffrey Graham does it quite well: “I think what this [research] is telling us is that you don’t have to be a mass media star or a household name to be influential and actually drive people to buy stuff.”

Measuring Influencer Impact

As the article notes, the analysis itself of marketing performance is also something that has resulted from technological development and trackable media. Marketers 40 years ago didn’t have the channels necessary to amplify long-tail influencers and their efforts. Celebrity endorsements likely had enormous impact on moving products, but it was far more difficult to quantify those results. As times have changed, marketing decisions have become more analytics-driven. While celebrities still have the power of exposure, research like the above points to other audiences that have the power of conversion. In our crowded world, both audiences will still have their purpose.

How is your brand proactively engaging influencers to help drive engagement and sales? For B2C brands (and B2B though that is a slightly different strategy), crafting an intelligent influencer development program is paramount in succeeding during this new era of consumer-led marketing.

Image Source: / By: Cole Hutson