The New Rules of Brand Influence

Analyst Reports
Consumer Purchasing
Influencer Marketing

Today’s brands are held to higher standards than ever. Thanks to the proliferation of content, mobile, and social media, consumers want the best information—and they want it fast.

In this growing ecosystem, knowledge moves at lightning speed. Consumers rely on conversations driven by friends, family, and trusted experts—in addition to information they’re passively absorbing through their social media feeds—to learn about products and make purchase decisions.

Your brand, now more than ever before, is in the hands of your community, influencers, and customers. No matter how much you invest in advertising or sponsorships, you won’t cultivate the right relationships until you look at influence in a new way.

Here are the new rules of brand influence.

RULE 1

RULE 1: TRUST IS A SCARCE RESOURCE

Just 4% of Americans believe that marketers and advertisers act with integrity, according to a recent report in AdAge, and nearly half of consumers surveyed say they don’t trust any news source. Not to mention, 68% of consumers trust online reviews from strangers
more than a brand’s marketing.

Ouch.

Even marketers with the best intentions need to be wary of the fact that today’s consumers are skeptical, nervous, and on-guard when they encounter messaging from brands. Big budgets can’t buy trust. Connecting with the right people builds trust.

RULE 2

RULE 2: YOUR TRUE CATALYSTS FOR INFLUENCE ARE EVERYWHERE

Gone are the days of celebrity endorsements being the gold-standard for promotion. Today’s purchase catalysts are moms, dads, friends, industry leaders, and subject matter experts— they’re people like us who have taken the time to research a company’s products and services in depth because of their passion for the category.

Just take a look at this report from social monitoring site Mention. In one data set of one billion social mentions, 91% came from people with fewer than 500 followers.

To reach these audiences, your brand needs to be ubiquitous—to develop lasting, long-term relationships with industry catalysts and leaders who are considered experts within their communities.

These individuals include people who you meet in everyday contexts including retail store associates, category professionals and passionate recommenders. They either sell your products, use your products to do their job or spend more time and money on their passion than the average person.

Cast your net wide by investing in deeper relationships with these influencers.

RULE 3

As a brand, you need to convince your audiences that you’re selling an awesome product. Even if someone is responding to your marketing messaging, chances are he or she isn’t believing it—just 24% of Americans believe ads, according to Lab42.

There’s a silver lining to this trend, however. What consumers want is access to credible recommendations based on first-hand experiences. Brands can succeed in this ecosystem by creating a network of category influencers and providing them with educational resources and a direct tie into product experiences.

• 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

• 83% of word-of-mouth recommendations are tied to personal experience with a product/brand.

• Marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than 2X the sales of paid advertising.

The bottom line is that trusted influencers are your best marketing strategy. Word of mouth has always mattered but it matters most when you have the right influencers talking about your brand.

RULE 4

RULE 4: AUTHENTICITY IS THE ULTIMATE FORM OF CURRENCY

To be influential, your brand needs to offer more than surface-level content to your community of recommenders. Your brand needs to develop a deep understanding of your customers’ most pressing pain points and needs.

Advocacy and word-of-mouth are only part of the influence equation. According to one stat, 77% of online shoppers use reviews to make a purchase decision. Even when they encounter a negative review, they won’t turn away—rather, they’ll embrace the perspective as a sign of authenticity.

Today’s consumers, according to Google9, are checking twice as many resources as they have in past years. One of the most impactful marketing decisions that your business can make is to be present, as a member of your target audience’s community.

TAKEAWAYS

THE TAKEAWAYS

An influencer marketing program is your brand’s biggest untapped opportunity. With a structured, dedicated approach to connecting with your community, you’ll tackle trust challenges and build word of mouth organically, generate influence at scale, and turn those influencers into your lasting advocates for your brand. Here’s how to get started:

1. Map your customer buying journey to understand where they buy and who represents a valued opinion in their journey.

Identify a group of everyday experts and known influencers who will benefit from teaching their communities about your brand. These include retail sales associates who are interested in becoming more knowledgeable in their roles, category professionals who consumers turn to for trusted advice on what to buy, and category influencers whose everyday passion makes them a credible source of expertise.

2. Create the right type of insider content that can build real insider relationships with your brand.

These folks want their specs and details — things that help them have a great conversation with your product. Create educational resources, learning materials, and interactive exercises to teach your influencers about your company. Share fun, interesting, and inspiring details about your company and product.

Your influencers will embrace this messaging and pass it along to their own communities. Give your advocates special recognition. Offer promotions and exclusive offers to to make them feel part of an inclusive or elite group.

3. Give your top influencers some extra special love.

Host a local meet-up or event, invite them to your office, meet them for coffee, or give them a special offer. Treat these individuals like a special part of your business and team. In turn, they’ll become your brand’s best advocates.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Influence is in the hands of your audience—so give your community the attention, care, and resources that they need to understand what your company has to offer. Be authentic, create products that people love, and show the world where you shine. With a structured approach to influencer outreach, growth will become self-generating.

Experticity has built the world’s largest community of influential category experts and them with 600 of the world’s top brands to create a new breed of buying experience — one that is informed, genuine and mutually beneficial. Experticity’s community of nearly 2 million experts is comprised of industry professionals, category opinion leaders and influential retail sales associates that are actively sought out for trusted recommendations on what to buy.

SOURCES

1. http://adage.com/article/media/marketers-media-trusts/298221/

2. https://www.getambassador.com/blog/word-of-mouth-marketing-statistics

3. https://mention.com/uploads/whitepaper.pdf

4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2013/02/26/this-just-in-a-lot-of-people-dont-trust-advertising/

5. http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2012/global-trust-in-advertising-and-brand-messages.html

6. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/for-brands-experience-driven-word-of-mouth-sparks-the-most-action-2013-05-20

7. http://www.referralcandy.com/referral-marketing-guide/2/how-powerful-is-word-of-mouth-exactly

8. http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-the-psychology-of-social-commerce/

9. https://ssl.gstatic.com/think/docs/2011-winning-zmot-ebook_research-studies.pdf