Global insights on the role of influencers

Global insights on the role of influencers

To be influential, should your brand engage an influencer? At Global Voice’s latest webinar on March 25 (including panellist SJC’s Jacqueline Loch), we learned valuable insights on influencer marketing from a B2C and B2B perspective.

To be influential, should your brand engage an influencer? At Global Voice’s latest webinar on March 25 (including panellist SJC’s Jacqueline Loch), we learned valuable insights on influencer marketing from a B2C and B2B perspective.

April 8, 2021

Global Voices is a new collective of marketing leaders from across the globe, including SJC’s EVP Customer Innovation, Jacqueline Loch. At its latest webinar on March 25, we learned valuable insights on influencer marketing from a B2C and B2B perspective. Here are the takeaways!

Influencers have been around for longer than we may even realize. (Think Cleopatra, dating back to the fourth century B.C who pioneered “the make-up selfie” and the Royal Family who grant Royal Warrants for products and services they have used and endorse.)

Influencers surround us, whether it’s reviewing customer testimonials on a product we are debating to purchase, or reading an article with expert opinions from someone we trust. Today, the term and role of an “influencer” has grown into an entire industry that extends beyond just paid endorsements or the more general notion of “influential.”

On March 25, 2021, Global Voices hosted its second webinar, Beyond the hype: Global insights on the role of influencers with its four founding voices: Jacqueline Loch, EVP Customer Innovation for SJC Content in Toronto; Martin MacConnol, Executive Chairman at Wardour in London; Andy Seibert, Owner and Managing Partner of Imprint in New York; and Munni Trivedi, Owner and Co-founder of teammagenta in Mumbai.

Before exploring the ways in which Influencers can play a crucial role in a brand’s marketing plan, it is first important to understand exactly what an Influencer is. Influencers are people who acquire an expert level of knowledge, experience, and social influence in their field.

So what are the key considerations in deciding whether an influencer program might be a good marketing tool for your brand?

It all starts with trust and authenticity

The influencer industry thrives off of these two things. A good influencer is trusted by their audience due to their ability to provide authentic recommendations and opinions.

Choosing the right influencer for your business

The influencer world today is cluttered. Many influencers have relationships with multiple brands at one time, which may lead consumers to doubt authenticity. Securing an expert who makes rare statements is a good way to escape that clutter. Singer-songwriter Patty Smith is one such example. Due to her rare endorsements, on the occasion that she does speak out, people listen and trust her opinion.

It’s crucial to have alignment between your brand and the influencer(s) you choose to endorse your business. An influencer should have a similar tone, beliefs, and target audience. Influencer marketing and the uncontrollable nature of social media go hand and hand; If your influencer becomes associated with a contentious topic or controversy, your brand is implicated.

Do your research before you enact the partnership. Establish expectations and guidelines. What is their job and what do you expect to get out of their involvement?

B2C vs B2B influencer marketing – is there a difference?

In a B2C space, follower count, popularity, and community play a crucial role. From a B2B perspective, expertise and control of the message are the biggest factors to consider. The goal is not an overwhelming amount of reach. Instead, it is all about engaging with the right people in a controlled and targeted approach.

The buyer’s journey: consider what’s at stake for the consumer

Whether it’s B2B or B2C, influencers can play a role in the entire buyer’s journey: Top of funnel to inspire people and give them the confidence to consider your brand, and further down in the funnel to provide critical expertise that convinces them to buy.

It’s important to understand what is the stake of the decision you are trying to influence? What is the risk to the consumer? Does it affect how much they pay, will it impact their health, will it change how they work? A low-risk decision is whether to try out that new lipstick. A higher risk decision might be whether to suggest a new software tool to your boss or whether to try out a new product related to a health condition.

For low-risk decisions, you might use influencers at the top of the funnel for overall, more light-hearted inspiration. For high-risk decisions, influencers come into play lower in the funnel, giving rationale and viewpoints from other people to help you make that important decision.

The importance of emotion

When mapping out your media journey and marketing plan, don’t forget the emotional journey of your customer. This applies to both B2C and B2B. A buyer’s emotional connection to an influencer is what builds the foundation of trust between them and the business itself.

Why your brand may not need an outside influencer

Before exploring influencer marketing programs for your business, you may already have in-house experts who are trusted and respected in the market. If you are a B2B company, for example, you can target a specific LinkedIn group with those expert opinions

It is not necessarily about having a standalone “influencer program,” but using influencers as part of a mix to amplify messages further. Don’t get hung up on using an influencer or someone who is simply influential (an internal subject-matter expert who you don’t have to pay, for example.)  Your current media plan and in-house experts may be all you need.

Measuring engagement

Look at engagement in terms of time spent and actions taken – not just the number of eyeballs. Engagement is more than just comments on a post;  it’s how many people were driven to buy, how many people booked a consultation or interacted with your “digital concierge.”

It is harder to measure engagement in a B2B space since it involves more of a halo of expertise. B2C allows you to have the luxury of a direct response, while for B2B you need to look at the cumulative effect.

When thinking about incorporating an influencer program into your marketing plan here are four final takeaways from SJC’s Jacqueline Loch:

  1. Brand alignment. Confirm your targeted influencer(s) align with your brand value and audience.
  2. Is it a smart idea? Make sure you have a smart concept for an influencer campaign (and not simply using influencers because they are trendy.)
  3. Don’t give away the keys to your brand. Your influencer shouldn’t have too much free reign. Set clear guidelines and expectations at the start of the relationship.
  4. Focus on objectives and strategy: The general principles of marketing – goals, strategies, objectives etc. –  all apply to influencer marketing, too.

To watch a recording of the webinar in full, click here.


Related reading:

Summary of takeaways from the first Global Voices webinar on the latest trends in content marketing

Media & marketing trends that could impact 2021

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