Are Influencers a Better Research Panel?

Consumer research remains among marketers’ biggest (and expensive) challenges:  if your insights are flawed, then there’s a high chance that everything that follows is too.

A recent study by PEW Research Center indicates that the issues around generating accurate consumer insights will not be solved by more complex statistical models. No amount of propensity weighting, sample size, or other variety of statistical techniques matter when the quality of the panel polled is poor. Even if you incorporate the right mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. Even if you maintain an “exploratory” mindset.

The only variable that can be controlled that does matter is the quality of the panel itself.

It’s like being tasked with finding your way around NYC for the first time, and asking passersby to verify that you’ve determined the best route to your destination. You’ve mapped out your journey, and theoretically, you have the street smarts to chart the most efficient path. The passersby are happy to help, and share their opinion – but what you didn’t know was that they, too, are tourists. You didn’t first validate whether they had the local foundational knowledge to accurately inform your journey from the start.

So, would you rather survey the local or the tourist?

What makes it difficult, is that “quality” is highly contextual to the problem that needs to be solved. Not all consumers are created equal and that is a good thing. But it is not enough to just listen to your target customers – or any random sample of consumers for that matter. Studies have proved 10x over that people not only lack insight into their own behaviors, but also that reliance on self-reporting methods leads to deceiving results.

Fortunately millions of knowledgeable consumers and influencers are demonstrating their knowledge and showcasing their expertise daily on social media. It’s actually never been easier to find a qualified panel of consumer experts – if you know where to look. Researchers who haven’t considered tapping into their influencer marketing and relations practices (and vice-versa) have the opportunity to increase the value and efficiency of their research practices, while influencer marketing practitioners have a new opportunity to increase the value of their influencer relationships and influencer marketing strategy – especially when it comes to programming.

As influencer marketing and relations evolves from a one-off campaign tactic to an always-on program, consumer insights and research professionals can help to solve the challenge of always-on programming by introducing their research projects. In turn, influencer marketing and relations practitioners can benefit from improved campaign alignment from insights, strategy and planning through to execution, as well as improved relationships and brand affinity from influencers in their programs.

Together, both consumer research and influencer marketing professionals have the opportunity to:

  • Increase Speed, Quality, Intuitiveness, Alignment: Finding the right people with the right insights and ideas is an expensive process for influencer marketing professionals and researchers alike, as is community management and maintenance. Rather than duplicating efforts, consumer insights and research professionals have the opportunity to leverage the time and insights of influencer marketing professionals who have already invested in both, and have the capacity to do so.
  • Have Higher Retention and Brand Affinity: Influencer marketing and relations professionals need programming apart from brand campaigns to keep influencers engaged and invested. With the help of the consumer insights and research teams, influencer marketing and relations professionals can bring influencers earlier into the marketing process, which also results in improved campaign alignment when it the time comes to create content for the subsequent campaign.
  • Improve Response Rates and Reduced Response Error: In a recent survey of influencers, 95% of them responded that they are better at engaging people than marketers, and would be open to participating in research-related initiatives beyond creating content.

In our 2018 Influencer Marketing Consumer Insights & Research playbook, we share how leveraging influencers for consumer research and insights can inspire more empathetic customer experiences across your organization, including:

  • How to map influencers to research methods and outcomes to deliver more accurate consumer insights.
  • How aligning influencer and consumer research practices creates opportunities to improve cost and time efficiencies.
  • How to gain C-Suite buy in by forecasting and quantifying the impact of your aligned research and influencer marketing practices.

Influencers, in particular, have such proven empathy and demonstrated knowledge about the same consumers marketers are investing so much time, money and talent to target that not including them at the point of initial research is a significant missed opportunity – but it doesn’t have to be. Get the playbook today to get started.