Part 1 of our Influencer Marketing & Relations in 2018 series: Rethinking influence at scale as marketers struggle to close the trust gap.
Influencer Marketing & Relations has always been standard practice, and remained fairly straightforward until about 15 years ago, when Digital changed everything. During the last decade, the philosophical ideas of influence and trust, and its practice within marketing has evolved, and continues to morph rapidly due to ever-changing Digital platforms.
The shift in trust and influence dynamics has cemented the fact that consumers turn to their friend and family networks, i.e. Micro-Influencers, for the most trusted, credible opinions because they understand consumers’ specific context. In turn, the idea of celebrity has also evolved. Celebrities, as well as world & business leaders, who before the Digital Age had exclusive influence as partners to Marketers, now compete with digital-native Macro-influencers for trust and authority.
The evolution of Influence in the Digital Age has created a trust shift. Influence no longer originates from the top-down: the powerful and rich few, to the many. Today, influence is multifaceted and rooted in networks, as evidenced by how a single comment on a Digital or Social Media channel has the potential to spark a revolution. Digital dimensionalized and democratized influence, as well as opportunities for those with offline trust & credibility to have a larger, more influential voice online.
In an increasingly complex Marketing & Communications landscape – complicated by the continued fragmentation of Digital platforms and exacerbated by the mistrust of the powerful & legacy forms of media – Marketing & Communications practitioners are struggling to influence their consumers at scale. To add to the pain, Marketing & Communications enterprises find themselves in growing silos – across brands, offices, disciplines, and specialties – and as a result, their approach to Influencer Marketing & Relations (IMR) is fragmented across the organization. As technological advances have created complexity for Marketers, they have created just as much, if not more complexity, for IMR practitioners.
To combat the growing complexity, innovative Influencer Marketing & Relations (IMR) practitioners are being elevated and tasked with developing centers of excellence that orchestrate the development and deployment of enterprise-level IMR strategies that integrate with CX. But, while some of the first enterprise-level IMR+CX strategies have come to life, the influencer marketing platform landscape has yet to catch up and truly integrate IMR technologies across the CX. As a result, the influencer marketing platform space is preventing enterprises from fully deploying their influencer strategies across their organizations.
And if companies like Facebook and Amazon are bellwethers for the future of society, Marketing & Communications is going to get more fragmented, networked, and confusing – making consumers more dependent on influence-powered, trusted feedback & personalization at select CX touchpoints.
The fact that the world’s largest Social Media network changed its mission statement for the first time to put a renewed focus on small groups & communities signals that Marketers need to find solutions that integrate consumer’s personalized networks into their CX. The fact that Amazon is quietly launching influencer-powered affiliate networks as well as social media, UGC-powered shopping experiences, e.g. Amazon Spark, signals that Marketers need to find solutions that integrate all different types of influencers into their CX.
2018 is the year that IMR & CX practitioners partner to deploy enterprise-level strategies and technologies. Trust will become the new social currency, and a brand’s many different touchpoints will need to reflect consumer opinion, i.e. influencer recommendations, advocacy, ratings and reviews, which benefit the brand as well as the consumer.
There will be a growing need to develop integrated, interdependent IMR strategies that weave together Mega, Macro, Micro-Influencers – and also with other well-established word-of-mouth strategies such as Advocacy, Referral, and Loyalty Marketing – into the integrated CX strategy. We call this enterprise-level strategy an integrated Influencer Marketing Mix (iMM). With Digital’s proliferation, the sphere of influence is becoming more and more complex, but managed together in an all-in-one, enterprise solution vs. several point solutions, can be incredibly synergistic.
As innovative leaders begin integrating influencer marketing technology across their organizations, they elevate IMR from siloed and tactical to an enterprise-level, transformational strategy. As a result, they are looking to IMR practitioners to push their ideas, processes, and technologies to better integrate into the full Customer Experience.
For more on this topic an steps on how to get started, download our 2018 Influencer Marketing & Relations Trends Report.