Cultivating Influencers to Benefit Brands and Consumers
The name alone elicits arguments of how best to measure and find influencers, though no one has come up with a one-size-fits-all formula. Right now, there is a general lack of basic measurement in identifying influencers and brands customize their research to define their influencers differently.
The topic alone has more efforts than successes attached to it but there are a few companies that have been successful in cultivating influencers.
In fact a few of them decided to put themselves out there by participating in the “Influencers Marketing Summit” run by the The Business Development Institute (BDI) late 2012.
I was there with open ears, eager to learn any best practices for my clients and in some cases, hear directly from my clients.
What I did hear was, when sorted, was a comprehensive way to identify and engage influencers born of different well-known brands current marketing efforts. To help follow along I have listed Key Takeaways after each brand and will tie it in to how Passenger continues to innovate around Influencers at the end.
Fuse TV has consistently been a catch all of the latest trends, stories and art within the music and entertainment community. They laid out groundwork of what’s changed/hasn’t changed when it comes to influencers today:
What Has Changed:
• Social media amplifies word-of-mouth.
• The intention of influence is hard to understand, in context. It’s hard to tell when someone is saying something because they mean it or because they were “convinced”.
What Hasn’t Changed:
• Word of Mouth is the most powerful instrument in influence.
• Influence is dependent on a combination of expertise and relationships.
• People want to talk about something because they want to talk about it.
Key Takeaway: Understand the influencer market and cater to what THEY want to talk about, not you, make your needs fit the narrative.
Hershey’s presented an experience/program they ran called “The Bunny Trail”. Hershey’s made it a point to say they value the experience over formulaic measurements.
The Bunny Trail Recap:
Sparked by Hershey’s research, the brand started to understand the emotional impact of Easter, specifically Easter baskets, as nostalgia plays a key role in their consumer ship during that particular holiday.
A month before Easter began; Hershey’s held an event called “Blissdom”, inviting 1000 bloggers, and asking them to create their own custom digital Easter Basket. They were shipped the basket with a personal thank you asking them to share their memories through posts.
Thousands of pieces of content later, Hershey’s saw their site traffic increased by over 107%. They further encouraged fans on their social media offerings to offer up their stories and created an engaging experience true to their nature.
Key Takeaway: It’s not what you want them to share; it’s about creating a compelling experience, and giving them an excuse “to share”.
Tasti D-Lite takes a slightly different approach by utilizing their social media properties and location-based marketing to find, and influence both avid and passive consumers with a mix of engagement and rewards. They have basic rules in accomplishing this:
• Be a part of the consumer every day; ingrain yourself in their lives through different social media vehicles.have basic rules in accomplishing this:
• Identify potentials via different platforms, engage them with an experience and encourage them to share that experience.
• Reward/recognize frequently, both with tangible rewards and through recognition.
Their motto was to keep the conversation going at all costs, and providing fans/members with the content to be able to share.
Key Takeaway: Recapping these 3 brands, it’s all about creating and giving the content to individuals to share but only if they want to, rarely is it about changing behavior rather embracing behavior.
Passenger, who was not a sponsor of this event, has personal experience with Mountain Dew. We engaged and cultivated the engine (DEW Labs) behind the DEWmocracy campaign. Since, this community has become a calling card for true DEW fans. Our ears perked up when they came on stage.
A sponsor from the event “interviewed” Jamal Henderson, a Sr. Brand Manager at Mountain Dew. The most interesting component of this interview was to hear how Mountain Dew/PepsiCo defines Influencers, Advocates and Super Fans.
• Influencers: Driving the discussion, they have audiences of their own. Can use multiple platforms to drive the overall message, very powerful
• Advocates: A council. Consumers that want to be heard but aren’t influencers…yet. They reside in communities/panels.
• Super Fans: The community that is the mass behind the message.
Mountain Dew utilizes a number of different assets for influencer understanding. As a part of the PepsiCo brand they have access to Pepsi’s digital work labs, Pepsi10, and use their findings to fund ventures like DEW Labs and their NASCAR based venture called DEW Crew. They put themselves out there and when asked to provide advice, they recommend you do the same:
1. Start small, pilot things, for agencies don’t push. Start with a measured program with a clear objective.
2. Get to know your fans, have them meet the brand, when they know they have the ability to both influence the brand and fellow consumers, it’s a powerful incentive.
Where Does Passenger Come In?
Passenger has been the key cog in many influencer and innovation communities and wholeheartedly agrees with the findings. We have helped our clients cultivate members both in and outside of community to create powerful experiences that are both rewarding and compelling enough for consumers to want to share.
At Passenger, we have seen influencers become advocates, with the right amount of content/engagement with the brand. We have seen advocates become influencers with training. We have even seen super fans become advocates. All it takes is content and a program, which Mountain Dew can attest to.
How do we put this all together?
We have started to build out a program that leverages internal and external data combined with effective strategies on identifying and cultivating these influencers to benefit both the brand and their fellow consumers.