Will influencer marketing last?

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By Mark Schaefer

For the last few years “influencer marketing” has been the hottest topic around so it is only reasonable that we would hit a period where people start to question what this is all about.

Quite a bit of noise has been made in the last few weeks about the illegitimacy of this practice and so I thought it was time to examine this trend and answer the question: Will influencer marketing last, or will it be next year’s MySpace?

I’ll cut to the chase. Influencer marketing is still in its infancy. If you don’t believe this is a long-lasting and crucial trend, you’re just not paying attention.

Influencer marketing has its problems, but almost everything in marketing is problematic these days. Here’s why influencer marketing will be is an essential part of the marketing mix going forward.

The other channels are drying up

Slowly but inexorably we are moving toward an ad-free world. People are consuming TV through streaming services, audio through satellite radio and audio books, digital versions of print publications that are virtually ad-free. We block ads, skip ads, and VCR our way around them.

We need a new way to reach consumers because the old foundations of marketing are crumbling before our eyes. Two-thirds of the customer journey is taking place through some form of word-of-mouth online, in reviews and from influencers. We must figure out influencer marketing because it is one of the few things that still works.

People don’t trust you

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in companies, brands, and advertisers has declined 10 years in a row.

So even if people see your ads, they don’t trust them.

Who do people trust? Friends, experts, entrepreneurs, influencers.

If you take one thing away from this post it should be this: People don’t care about your company, your ads and your press releases. People care most about people.

“Social media” has become “influencer media”

There are no solid options for organic social media success for many companies today. If you’re putting our your daily posts like you did five years ago, please stop reading this post right now and take a hard look at your analytics. Go ahead. I’ll wait for you.

See? It’s probably not working any more is it?

But what about consumer-generated content from trusted friends? Several studies consistently find that consumer-generated content gets between 600 percent and 700 percent more engagement than the same type of content out out by a company.

The influencers are all around you

I think a lot of the bad press comes from the image of teen influencers who are out there pushing the limits of civility and taste.

But the social media elite getting paid $100,000 for a YouTube placement is a small part of influencer marketing. On average, we spend 30 percent of our day in conversation and 15 percent of those conversations mention a brand or service. Those numbers are too big too ignore.

Influence marketing through word-of-mouth recommendations is happening all around you, everywhere, as it always has been — whether you participate in it or not. So … participate in it.

Yes, you can measure it

One of the main problems detractors bark about is lack of measurement. Undoubtedly this is a challenge, but the world is moving fast on this.

I recently completed a research study on behalf of Traackr and had a chance to speak to some of the leading B2B influencer marketers from companies like Microsoft, Dell and SAP. You better believe they are measuring the results and plowing a lot of money into new software and techniques to connect influencer communications with results.

We are still in the early days and the measurement is improving in some creative ways. Meanwhile it works. Companies are reporting 2X and 3X sales through influencer marketing. So if you’re waiting around for perfect measures, your competitors are probably going to toast you.

The world is moving without you

I have to admit having a severe bias against people who wholly dismiss influencer marketing. The only explanation I have is that they are out of touch with the real world.

  • I did a search on LinkedIn and there are already 144, 293 people with “influencer marketing” in their titles.
  • A study last year showed that influencer marketing was the second-fastest growing line item in the CMO budget (behind content)
  • According to Google Trends, searches for “influencer marketing” have increased 10X since 2014.

I would say that these are signs that the corporate world is embracing this trend.

Are you?

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for {grow}, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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Originally published at www.businessesgrow.com on July 16, 2018.

Written by

Chieftain of the blog {grow}, strategy consultant, educator, podcaster, author of Return On Influence, The Content Code, and The Tao of Twitter.

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