Thursday, 16 June 2011

Marketing Under the Influence

Marketing Under the Influence


Influence. Many social media users would kill for it and brands want in too. Influential members of social communities are the holy grail for branded marketing initiatives, whether they be based on word-of-mouth via blog posts, video or beyond. To name each and every branded execution that in some way incorporates social influencers would be nearly impossible. However, a select group of influence-based platforms are illustrating the ways in which social influence can impact online content, user behavior and the fate of popular social networks.

Klout is a popular site that measures users’ social influence based on a number of factors: network influence, amplification probability and true reach. The site bases these measurements off of user activity on Facebook, Twitter and now LinkedIn as well. This service not only allows social participants to rate themselves against the scores of other influencers and their friends, but also lets brand partners give influential users rewards such as movie tickets for influential moms and dads or Subway gift cards for foodie influencers via Klout Perks. Users simply sign up to see if they qualify. Marketers can offer perks such as these to encourage their target audiences to increase conversation and activity surrounding the brand.

With the recent inclusion of LinkedIn on the Klout platform, we may begin to see a steady rise in activity on the site as well. Klout users will most likely begin to increase the frequency in which they request recommendations or add contacts to their networks because of the added incentive to become an influencer on Klout. This is not only an important factor to keep in mind for social destinations aiming to position themselves as leaders in their category but also for marketers looking to advertise on platforms with increasing usage or engagement time. The LinkedIn integration coincided with the release of Klout’s +K button, which allows users to add Klout points to people they think are influential within certain topics.

Finally, Quipster is a check-in app that allows users to check-in to various activities on their mobile devices. Users can include venue information, images and comments before sharing the check-in to Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare. What makes this platform significant, however, is the ability for users to follow others who they may not know based on the popularity of their messages in a certain category, a feature that other services such as Foursquare lack. Brands or brand spokespeople could potentially become influencers on Quipster themselves, organically emerging in the forefront of their specific category.

Influencers are not only responsible for persuading their audiences: they are also causing shifts in the advertising industry as a whole. As the blogosphere continues to evolve in the social space, we will begin to see more and more marketers referring to bloggers as influencers. This shift also applies to the social activists on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. It will be important for brands to adopt this distinction when communicating with influencers directly. Additionally, brands should monitor the platforms that social influencer sites like Klout or PeerIndex take into account to better forecast where current influencers will be most active and where new influencers will emerge. Finally, brands and brand spokespeople should work to gain influential status to enforce a leadership role in their categories and provide opportunities for influential consumers to be rewarded for their support.

Emily Knab, 6.15.2011

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