Social media has revolutionized the balance of power that existed between brands and customers. Today, leveraging the power of your brand begins with building a personal relationship with your customers. The voice of your customers has always been the greatest tool in marketing. Now, the power that social media platforms have bestowed on customers means that customers finally have one giant megaphone at their disposal 24/7.
Social media has been able to create that great shift of the balance of power between brands and customers simply by enabling peer recommendations in product purchasing. According to a study by McKinsey, the sales generated by market-inspired peer recommendations on social media doubles those that are generated by paid advertising and the retention rate for customers gained through peer recommendations is 37 percent higher.
According to Market Force, 81 percent of buyers say they had been influenced by what their friends shared on social media, and a report by Nielsen says that 43 percent of customers are more likely to buy a product when they buy it through social media. When it comes to how much consumers trust their online reviews from strangers, 68 percent of customers say they trust online consumers reviews.
Therefore, it is clear that social media is one of the most influential marketing tools you can have today. It is also why everyone should have a social media strategy.
The power of peer recommendations and the amplification they get when done through social media is the reason why influencer marketing is a hot topic of discussion among marketers.
What is influencer marketing? It’s a marketing technique that targets individuals who have been identified to have influence over potential buyers. Previously, the focus was on leading bloggers and celebrities. Today, that focus has shifted to include ‘everyday’ buyers who may have just as much impact as the traditional ‘influencer’ consumers. They are the ‘new wave’ that has revolutionized social media marketing.
Presently, the trend is for brands to look for identities with a huge social media following. However, there is a better way of identifying the leading brand influencers. These are people who have a deep knowledge of the topic and products they talk about on social media. Their posts possess credibility and expertise on the subject matter, and they have a trust relationship with their followers.
That has led to a new way of evaluating brand influencers. In identifying and ranking them, a marketer needs to look at their following, their credibility and expertise and strength of their relationship with their followers.
The Two Groups of Brand Influencers
The first group is the regular customers and brand advocates. The regular customers are a critical group that you should not overlook. They do not have as many followers as leading brand influencers, but they do have a small close-knit group that trust each other. These groups are linked to other groups through members who belong to more than one group.
Together, these groups scale easily and create giant trends in the marketplace. According to BrightLocal, two to six positive reviews are enough for the majority of customers to trust a business. That is why small unknown companies have been able to rise to great fortune and stardom overnight.
The second group is that of individuals who have built their brand over time and gained the trust of their followers. They show expertise in their posts and what they say carries a great deal of credibility. They have within a short period become a brand in themselves that influences what users think about other brands. A good example of such a brand influencer is Donald Trump.
Let us take a look at how he used social media marketing to carry out his influencer marketing strategy; how he moved from being a little-known personality outside of the business community to a well-known business and a political personality of great notoriety, and finally the President of the United States.
That was his first step to creating an awareness of himself as a brand that can be trusted. Trump used The Apprentice to market himself to the public who knew little about him. He used it to show that he was impartial while making his decisions. He positioned himself as a person who is out to help people get an opportunity to succeed based on their talent to do business.
He ran it long enough to make people recognize who he was not just in the U.S., but also worldwide. Many people still remember the “You’re fired” phrase that showed his intolerance to mediocrity on the show.
Having made the name Trump a brand that could be trusted, he launched attacks that sought to discredit the administration of the day. He started raising concerns about the citizenship of the sitting president and projecting the need for Americans to Americanize their leadership again. He was very successful at this to the point that former president Obama finally provided his birth certificate as proof that he was indeed American.
Trump had proved that he was an influencer marketer of American politics with a solid following of voters who trust him. His next move was now to discredit the leading candidates and make himself the only viable option that Americans could trust with the presidency.
He used his Trump brand that Americans had come to associated with luxury, celebrity, and wealth courtesy of ‘The Apprentice’ and Trump Tower. Although Clinton was a powerful brand as well, hers was less appealing to the people. It was also not associated with entertainment and luxury. Trump was the brand that most Americans aspired to become.
Extreme Brand Message
He was aware that choosing a candidate to vote for was a timing consuming decision for voters; a decision that carries a high risk if it fails. Trump knew what Americans wanted; he leveraged on their trust of the brand he had created to assure his customers, (in this case, the voters,) of the value they were going to get. He was offering the value, which was the centerpiece of his effective marketing.
Trump created and offered ‘value’ by promising positive change in exchange for the time and risk or the ‘price’ that Americans, his ‘consumers’ were to pay for trusting him. Trump used the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ to target people who felt that American had lost the glory of being a nation that protected their interests.
He targeted the voters who shared similar world perceptions, moods, lifestyles, and concerns of unemployment. He targeted voters who were ready to vote for a change or simply consumers (voters) who were ready to buy (vote).
Trump was very consistent in his message to voters and paired it with the promise of change. The message was geared to the radical voter who wanted change and at making the other candidates look less attractive to the radical voter.
To discredit his competitors, he labeled them with names such as ‘Crooked Hillary’ and ‘Lying Ted.’ That caused the other candidates to try and defend themselves, which exposed them to further attacks from Trump and also changed their standing from the voter’s perspective
While both Clinton and Trump used media marketing strategies, Trump was more successful because he targeted individual groups rather than the nation as a whole. He told people what they wanted to hear by analyzing groups and segments that form the voting blocks. He made them feel empowered to achieve what they have always wanted to achieve.
To those who are unemployed, he promised to stop the export of jobs overseas, to those who felt that their lives were not secure, he promised to deal with immigrants from which terror groups emerge. To those at the border, he promised tighter immigration rules and strategies to defend the borders.
He was very successful on social media especially Twitter. He built relationships with voters using word-of-mouth buzz for the Trump brand. Some of his best buzzwords were #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, #crookedhillary, #votetrump, #DrainTheSwamp, among others.
Unlike Trump, Hillary’s communication did not generate as much buzz.
That meant that the Trump brand had the kind of loyalty that makes a customer like a brand rather than just buying it out of habit. Trump successfully used his social media advantage for PR attention as well as to gain the interest and trust of American voters. Trust and interest of consumers are important because they decide if the engagement will occur or not. They can decide to follow or “unfollow” brands.
What to Consider When Creating Influencer Marketing Trust:
Your consumer will only buy what you offer if they trust you. It takes time and effort to build trust. If you cannot take your time to build trust with your customers by engaging them online, you then have no choice but to use the services of other influencer marketers. According to Content Marketing Institute, brands using social media experience a 10-fold increase in conversation rates.
The relevancy of an influencer is the relation of your posts’ message to your keywords and brand. The closer they are, the greater the conversion and, therefore, gain the brand will get from the influencer. It also enables the brand to rank easily.
The reach is the potential number of customers your brand will connect with and is limited to the influencer marketer following you gain. The more authoritative and knowledgeable consumers perceive you to be, the greater the following you will generate. Eighty-two percent of marketers said they use social media sharing to create awareness for their brand.
The impact is the response that you get from brand-related posts you make. You would make a greater impact if you proved yourself to be an expert in your field before you attempted to promote your brand. According to eMarketer, 81 percent of those marketers who have used influencer marketing found it to be effective.
The activity of the influencer is when and how often you create and send posts. Consumers tend to trust those who post regular, informative posts. Trump, who had a much greater following than Hillary, had more posts, and had been active on Twitter since 2009 compared with Hillary’s account created in 2013.
The quality of the interaction between you as the influencer and your followers on your brand-related posts is key. For example, a “retweet” of your post ranks lower than a “reply” to your post. However, the “retweet” will rank higher compared to a “like” of the same post.
We hope this guide has been effective and you will make good use of it in creating your influencer marketing strategy.
Tahir Miah is an entrepreneur, digital marketer and SEO enthusiast. He is the founder of Serpjump, a SEO agency based in Befordshire. Tahir currently advises companies on the best way to increase revenue and brand awareness through SEO, content marketing and social media. He can be found on @serpjump