The impact of collaborating with everyday influencers
The latest of our breakfast briefings looked at the impact that everyday influencers can have on the success of a brand. Some attendees were expecting to talk about traditional influencers such as celebrities and bloggers, but by the end of the morning everyone was really excited about the ordinary people who might not have not have a huge following on social media, but whose recommendations are trusted and sought out by their friends and family, making them highly effective everyday influencers.
Speakers at the event were Gill Green, a business-focused clinical psychologist at ORConsulting; Rebekah Mackay Miller, joint MD of trnd UK and Aaron Ayling, campaign manager and data analyst at trnd.
Is there a movement building in the market towards a more collaborative approach to marketing?
Rebekah: “Brands are becoming more collaborative. User-generated content is often a huge part of a brand’s strategy. But there is some confusion, too. Collaborating with everyday influencers is not about paying a social media star or a high-profile blogger to promote your product. It’s about working with the people who will recommend your product to their friends. The value is far greater – people trust their friends more than they trust someone who they know has been paid to promote something. And the impact is longer term. If a brand invests money creating a great story, they want to know that story will continue beyond the initial telling.”
On the frontline of a campaign, what strikes you about the members of the trnd community?
Aaron: “People are very forthcoming and opinionated. They’re passionate about brands and how they communicate with customers. They understand that the power is in their hands. They want to be appreciated, and they want honesty from the brands.”
Does this mean that brands have to give up control, and let their consumers do the talking?
Gill: I’ll counter that with another question – did brands ever really have control over people’s conversations? Control has always been with the customers. Brands can choose to facilitate the conversation and listen to what customers are saying, or ignore it. The conversations are happening whether brands are involved or not.
Where does collaboration fit in to the media plan?
Rebekah: “Collaboration enhances the impact of all media, so it should be a key marketing strategy. It flips the sales funnel on its head in many ways. If you identify a few influencers who are genuinely passionate about your brand, they’ll have a huge impact – not just on their friends who’ll buy your product, but also on the ROI of other media campaigns.”
What metrics should brands focus on when measuring the success of a campaign using everyday influencers?
Aaron: “Our key metrics are based on online and offline reach, volume of user-generated content (such as reviews), and things like how many people tried the product. We also partner with external companies such as IRi to determine the impact on sales, or research companies to delve deeper into the impact on behaviour. But as recommendations are still the most trusted form of advertising, this should be the most powerful indicator over the long-term.”
Is collaboration and user-generated content really a more compelling incentive than discounts and freebies?
Gill: “We all love the immediacy of getting something for free. But people also know that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that’s ok as long as the brand is upfront about it. So if you say: “We’ll give you this to try and in return we want your opinion on it” that’s very powerful. People love to be asked their view. They’ll really engage. It’s a sign that the brand respects their customers. They’re the experts, and their view is valued. They can influence their friends' views. That lasts much longer than the freebie.”
What sort of content can brands expect to get from a campaign?
Aaron: “They can expect to get all sorts of user-generated content: verbatim, video, photos, testimonials and so on – but also insight into their product, which is incredibly valuable.”
What are the benefits to brands of investing in building an owned community over using a social media platform?
Rebekah: “Social media is great for reach. But Facebook is a paid advertising platform essentially. And of course you don’t own the data. You can’t identify the real everyday influencers on social media, but you can in your own community. To build trust among influencers, you need real two-way dialogue, at scale. Importantly you must be able to take data from those interactions and integrate it into your CRM."
"Don’t forget that two-thirds of all word-of-mouth recommendations for brands happens offline, in real conversations. One offline impression drives five times more sales than a paid impression."
“If your objective is to drive recommendations and sales, an owned community will have more impact.”
Three key take-outs from the event:
Be mindful of your objectives. Reach is not the same as impact.
Two-thirds of all word-of-mouth happens offline.
Market with your consumers, not at them. This will future proof your brand communications.