Influencer Marketing Expert Opinions and Top Secrets

Accordng to influencer marketing expert research, Snapchat users watch 80 videos a day. We recently asked people which videos they remembered and the answer was: 

  • the funniest one this week, from a friend, or
  • the last really gross video I got about three days ago… the rest I do not remember.

Of course, this is not a scientific study. But what content stands out that you remember, dear Instagram or Snapchat user?

Wait, it gets better! Now we also have the Pay Your Selfie app in the US. This is an app that pays people between 20 cents to 1 Dollar for their selfies made with certain products. These are then posted to the Internet, such as on Instagram, and help sell products – at least in theory.

And the most important thing for brands seems to be finding these influencers – not celebrities. Well, maybe they are celebrities in their own right through sharing their silly moments, touting products and so forth. But do these influencers get us to purchase another coffee maker, lipstick, stiletto heels or pair of pants? Here are some influencer marketing expert tips we may want to keep in mind.

Broadcasting Is Not Sales

People increasingly began using social media around 2005. By 2010 many used several Social Networks, such as Facebook or Twitter. Just about a decade ago it was clear that social media empowered the average user to:

  • Create and share content (i.e. many share with many or a few people) easily, AND
  • Foster dialogue and engagement – this was and continues to be important.

All this has meant that attention has shifted from simply trying to sell toward focusing on understanding the needs of the buyer. Influencer marketers supposedly listen to their fans’ needs. In turn, they review and test products that interest their target audience (e.g., lipstick, TV or software).

The idea is, of course, that this information will help sway viewers of a video and readers of a blog post to purchase the product. At least, the manufacturer or seller hopes their product will be considered when we are in the store or buying online.

There are certain factors that affect how many people you reach, such as the number of:

  • fans on Facebook or Instagram, AND
  • social shares of your content on social networks (i.e. whether it creates a ripple).

Nevertheless, what is the ultimate objective? Do we want influencers to help us with word-of-mouth marketing, do we hope for more sales, or what?

How did Revlon Identify Chelsea King as an Influencer?

It seems Revlon and its ad agency had a hard time measuring influence directly. Could we maybe measure influence by following generally accepted procedures?

Cover PR, an influencer marketing expert agency that negotiates deals for bloggers with large brands might help here. It attempts to ‘measure’ the concept of influencer as follows:

Influencers can be identified by choosing faces not just because of their reach but also based on quality, authenticity and professionalism (“… ausgewählte Gesichter, die nicht nur nach Reichweite, sondern auch nach Qualität, Authentizität und Professionalität ausgesucht wurden.“

Easy, right? The result is you get mostly young women and a few guys (not pictured here). That is superb. NOT.

Some agencies are vague about how they define influence: Is it really just having reach, producing quality, being authentic and professional? 

Hold on, not so fast. How were these women selected?

Martha Lane Fox (founder of lastminute.com) is attributed as having said, instinct or gut feeling should be ditched in business. This applies to our task of finding influencers as well. 

Just using a few buzzwords to describe these influencers such as aesthete (Schöngeist) or real free spirit will not do, will it?

influencer marketing expert
Image Source: Wesley Tingey

Compliance for beginners

If a blogger is an influencer and works with brands, is the blogger compliant to local advertising and content regulations? For instance, a sponsored post must be marked as such at the top of the entry. If it is not, but has a little footnote to that effect, this might not satisfy the regulator, as Buzzfeed learned and paid for in the UK.

Compliance mistakes, such as failing to label native advertising as required, occur frequently. Of course, as a brand marketer we would hope that the agency prevents its client from making such beginner faux pas.

Does the content make a difference to our bottom line?

Influence goes beyond getting eyeballs to view your blog content. Nonetheless, is being authentic or professional part of how an influencer marketing expert would define and measure influence?

Yes, maybe – because it is likely to manifest itself as many reader comments. Thoughtful comments do give other readers added value. And of course, we mean better comments than a simple feel-good note, such as, “Great post, thanks for sharing.” But this still leaves out engagement and dialogue. How do we know people care about what we do and are influenced?

To illustrate, it might be that with 427,000 Twitter followers, one of your tweets gets 18 likes, 5 retweets. Is this a satisfactory ROI? Put differently, will this tweet influence your followers to purchase the product in the near future?

Guy Avigdor, COO of Klear, a software company that sells services to calculate your influence, attempts to identify influencers. For instance, Guy identifies Tory Burch as a very influential fashion blogger on Twitter. Unfortunately, once again the person gets very low response for her tweets.

If the dialogue ratio is rarely more than 0.001 percent, who cares if you have a few thousand or even hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers or Facebook fans?

Do fans engage with your content?

Let us agree, if your stuff gets shared on various social networks such as Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, you are probably influential. But besides more traffic or views of your content, does it really influence people in what they intend to buy or will purchase tomorrow?

Influence: How To Move MORE Product

So you are a blogger and have influence. Let us cover the basics first. We want influence to help us strengthen our brand and, hopefully, result in more products being sold. This chest of drawers will help us clarify further.

Brand Strength could be described as a little chest of drawers. According to David A. Aaker this chest then has three drawers with the following contents:

  • Awareness of the brand, meaning our target audience knows about our brand – or not.
  • Association and beliefs about the brand (e.g., associating the brand with sustainability).
  • Attitude towards the brand (i.e. positive, negative or no opinion).

An influential blogger can raise awareness of a label with the target audience. If it works, beliefs about a brand might be shifted or one’s attitude toward a brand changes for the better (e.g., they are trying hard to improve sustainability of their supply chain – see book from David A. Aaker).

Of course, we want to improve the reach of content that talks about the product with the help of the influencer. As well, we hope this will increase trust in our brand and product.

Unless you get satisfactory answers to the questions below, you may not really know how your influencer was identified. Check this carefully or pay through the nose for little, if anything. 

  1. What criteria were used to identify influencers for your purpose? If the answer makes sense, go to question 2. If not, skip the rest. 
  2. How was influence defined? There is no shared definition of influence. Nevertheless, if your agency wants to get you to work with influencers, let them explain what they mean by the term. The result will be discussion about your desired final outcome, achieved with the help of the influencer’s work. 
  3. How was influence measured? Once we define something (point 2 above), we need to come up with criteria to measure it. If not, the list of influencers shown to you is basically random. Don’t expect to be happy with the results of collaborating with people on this list. 
  4. Are we being snowed by savvy impression management? Explicit impression management is externally oriented self-presentation (Gattiker, 2004). Sometimes “influencers” just do a great job presenting themselves as influential at conferences, special events and so forth. Of course, getting others to believe you know what you’re talking about is the first step on the way to being labelled an expert. Nonetheless, does that give someone the necessary credibility with our target audience, our customers? 
  5. Are we falling victim to reputation bias? Reputation is what is generally said or believed about a person’s character or standing. Conference organisers may fall victim and book speakers whose expert status or reputation is primarily based on savvy impression management. Hence, checking if reputation is based on facts or fluff matters if we want to get a satisfactory ROI out of blogger relations and working with influencers. 
  6. Are we reinforcing age, gender and / or race discrimination? As parents we know, once the kids become teens our influence with them wanes. 

Similarly, a 50-year-old consumer working in the city is unlikely to follow a 20-something’s advice on which stilettos to buy. Working with influencers in a certain age, gender or race group may be great. But if they fail to reflect our mix of customers, we may have fallen victim to discriminating against certain groups of individuals. 

Bottom line 

We need answers to these six influencer marketing expert questions. In this process, we can either understand the metrics used or develop a measurement method for our purposes. Our measurement method must meet the requirement for repeatability and reproducibility. The influence marketing ranking is repeatable, if others can re-run the analysis using the same method and reproduce the same results. Black boxes or algorithms that are kept secret do not permit this. Does it seem advisable to base business decisions on methods we fail to comprehend?

Ranking Influencers: Fact Versus Fiction(According To Influencer Marketing Expert Opinions)

Many social influence metric tools are intransparent and work like a black box. Nonetheless, algorithms represent choices made by the engineers that designed them. Hence, algorithms are not neutral. Unless the method is made transparent, buyers beware.

Some influence measures multiply ranking with mentions on Twitter. This ignores the fact that people automatically retweet, often without having read content first. Others calculate influence for bloggers using the Alexa ranking. The latter counts your traffic only if you have their plugin installed with your PC browser and ignores mobile traffic.

You can measure influence with the help of engagement, using proxy measures, such as number of tweets, number of retweets, number of replies, favorited tweets. But claiming to measure engagement with such metrics is an inexact science at best and voodoo at worst.

Tomoson surveyed 125 marketers during March 2015, and now claims that based on its survey replies, companies gain $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. However, such studies are not representative, so these numbers are dubious at best.

Repeatability and reproducibility of such data and findings lie at the heart of sensible decision-making. Using blog metrics, many an influencer marketing expert have found that most ‘influential’ European style bloggers fail to make the top 10. A blogger was considered influential if their name was included in a list, such as those published by Vogue, Annabelle and so forth.

Incidentally, as a style blogger real style also means you have the personality to match. Unless the blogger expresses something of their personality, it could be lost in a mess of peroxide and passionless fashionability.

Great style blogs are all about substance. And that ain’t easy to measure.

Narcissism versus self-esteem

Self-esteem can be defined as a subjective sense of one’s self worth and being competent. It correlates with good things such as emotional well-being and being persistent when doing a task. Narcissism means the person feels superior (We know best – we should decide). Such individuals crave admiration and adulation.

When we talk about social media influencers, narcissism plays a role. Narcissists seek attention and admiration and lash out at anyone criticising them. Donald Trump is probably the best known example of a narcissist. But if your personality is mostly about yourself and how to put yourself in the spotlight, we might have no more.

Incidentally, research with children indicates that parental overvaluation nurtures narcissism, and parental warmth nurtures self-esteem.

For the brand marketer this means that finding the best social media influencer is a tricky thing. A certain degree of narcissism might be okay and come with the territory. However, for a productive long term collaboration, plenty of self-esteem is preferable to loads of narcissism.

Narcissists tend to focus on materialism, have inflated expectations and show less relationship commitment than others. Such individuals are not easy to work with as a brand ambassador. Again, the secret to real style is having the personality to go with it. Nevertheless, narcissists need not apply, unless we have the patience and energy to deal with temper tantrums, tears and anger in spades.

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