On April 3, we introduced you to Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella who are about to release a new book on the increasingly popular subject of influence marketing. During the first part of our interview, we asked why they choose to tackle this subject and what the basic premise of the book is.
In that discussion, we explored the nature of influence in social media marketing, how it’s defined — and why brands should care about it. In a nutshell, the authors explained that with the growing adoption of social media channels for peer-to-peer communications, along with the growing number of devices that we engage through, the “wisdom of crowds” has become a more challenging phenomena for businesses to maximize. It’s no secret that online brand commentary and recommendations have an impact on the perceived value of a brand, but can they be channeled to positively impact the bottom line?
Social influence scoring platforms have grown in popularity, yet studies continue to show that marketers don’t trust their metrics and report low satisfaction with the results generated through them. Yet, that same study reports substantial budgets are still being allocated to “influence marketing.” Clearly, there’s hope for influence marketing practices, even with the lack of credible solutions and methodologies to satisfy the need.
It’s at this point that we pick up our interview with the authors of Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing.
Nimble: Mention the word “influence” today and people often react negatively – why do you think this is?
Sam & Danny: Primarily, it’s because the term “influence” has become more about how high your score is as opposed to how valuable influence can be. Brand managers and marketers, the early movers in this space, have embraced the popularity-and-amplification-equals-influence approach. However, this has led to less than stellar returns for many of these brands, and, in turn, the lack of business success has led to influence being cast as ineffective and over-hyped. As we show in our book, it’s not influence that’s broken; it’s the focus and methodology. There are some great platforms doing some great work to truly show how influence can work, be measured, and connect brands to customers.
Nimble: Do you have a favorite influence marketing platform?
Sam & Danny: We have several, in each case they’re favorites for very different reasons, and for different client needs. For example, for Fortune 500 clients we appreciate the work that Appinions is doing in the area of helping corporate executives become thought leaders and more effectively introduce new products to the market. For other clients, we like where Traackr is going and their advanced search and filtering criteria. Each uses a different methodology, but in each case we like the fact that neither focus on building influencers through social scoring schemes. Instead, they work on providing platforms that marketers and sales teams can use to measurably sway purchase decisions. We discuss these, and many others we’ve learned to love, throughout the book.
Sam & Danny: Our opinion, based on our experiences in the field, is that no platform is a good standalone solution for influence marketing. Our methodology is based on swaying prospects at different stages of the lifecycle to either move closer towards a purchase decision or to convert a consumer who is on the bubble of making a purchase decision. Success in these campaigns is often based on having a complete picture of your relationships with customers and managing real-time changes to the influence paths between the brand and the consumer. So while these tools are examples of platforms that help deliver on that promise, we believe integration with sales and social CRM software such as Nimble is critical for success. Influence marketing is not a campaign; it’s a cross-company operation that requires equal cross-silo and software collaboration.
Nimble: There seems to be some confusion around the terms “advocate” and “influencer.” Is there a difference and if so, do you cover this?
Danny & Sam: There is a difference between the two and yes, we deal with it in the book. We define brand influencers as people who are motivated to speak about a product or brand because of an offer of reciprocal benefit, payment or by using gamification tactics. Brand advocates, on the other hand, are customers who, because of superior customer experience with the brand, voluntarily promote it with no promise of perks, payment or reward. Each are required in an influence marketing strategy, yet there’s a markedly different methodology required to maximize each.
Nimble: The book title refers to the idea of “measuring” brand influencers. How do you address this?
Danny & Sam: How to measure social media marketing, that’s the million dollar question these days. We recently posted an article on the poor results with social influence scoring platforms. We aim to change that., which shares our views on this subject. Yes, the methodology we outline in the book was created specifically to be measurable against a very precise marketing measurement: Revenue and customer lifetime value (CLV). By shifting the focus of influence marketing from identifying and scoring influencers to how prospects make purchase decisions, and who sways those decisions in specific situations, we’re able to measurably track the impact on revenue. Lack of measurable business impact is one of the reasons so many marketers have reported
Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing is available for pre-order today and will begin shipping in early May 2013. But why wait? You can follow Sam and Danny right now on Twitter.