Embracing influencer marketing on a global level is not without challenges. You’ve probably scrolled through your Instagram or Twitter feed once or twice (since this morning) and come across a celebrity promoting a brand in a way that seems forced or unnatural (really, is any product placement natural?). To me, this feels like a social faux pas, as if you agreed to engage in a friendly conversation with someone, and out of nowhere they want to talk business.
Many celebrities have endorsements that require them to be brand evangelists, but this feels less genuine and too obvious, which can signal to the visitor that the brand is desperate for attention. When executed well, though, content amplification via social influencers can be an effective way for a brand to stand out in its industry among all the white noise of online ads. Because resonating with consumers in specific local markets is an essential part of “going global,” brands should consider influencer strategy as a cornerstone of their global marketing efforts.
Although it seems ironic, “going local” is actually just as important as “going global” when implementing a global influencer strategy. In Shahrzad Warkentin’s article “Use Social Influencers to Expand your Global Outreach” on Smartling, she highlights that after identifying the types of experts that you’re looking for, based on the industry and tone of voice of the campaign, you’ll need to maintain a balance of global influencers vs. local influencers.
Each provides its own benefit to a brand’s content amplification objectives. While influencers who are universally recognizable with a broad range of followers are ideal for reaching the masses, Shahrzad adds that influencers who are popular within a specific, niche region can engage that target audience more effectively. MasterCard is a great example of a brand who thinks glocally in their influencer strategy. The brand collaborates with influencers that reach a broad, categorical audience interested in travel, and also with influencers who engage with the people on the ground in local markets.
At first, finding a global influencer may seem daunting. But Tony Maiella, Global Associate Director at Skyword, maintains that finding a global influencer isn’t so different from finding any other influencer, as long as you understand the language and culture. If you aren’t fluent in the language and you aren’t an expert in the subject matter, then you need an ally—fast.
Maiella adds that standard Google searches and Google AdWords can be helpful tools in vetting an influencer’s presence and cultural relevance. He says:
First, you have to understand your target audience’s culture and where they frequent online. You need to get to the heart of the topics they really care about and back it up with search data and social listening specific to their country and language. Only then can you attempt to find an effective influencer who is winning the online real estate you also want to own.
For example, a Google search of a specific industry or field of study will show you in the first few results who the thought leaders may be that industry, provided that you dig a bit deeper to see if they are published and reputable. Translating that search query into the languages of the target foreign markets would then give you an idea as to who the industry thought leaders might be in that market.
On the other hand, maybe you have a potential influencer in mind and you’d like to learn more about their relevance in a particular industry or market; AdWords can be a great tool for that. After selecting a location and language, search the person’s name and see if the keywords most closely associated with their name are related to that specific industry.
Molly Berry, a recruitment specialist at Skyword who finds writers and creatives from around the world, considers the size of an influencer’s following on Twitter and LinkedIn, but admits that it’s not just about the numbers. “Our writers need to be experts in their given industries, and they have to be engaged and willing to share their content on their social networks to make those numbers effective,” she says. “Klout is a great way to determine both a writer’s level of influence in terms of number of people viewing their content and the number of people sharing it.”
In other words, evaluating an influencer’s social following should be twofold. It’s first important to understand whether or not an influencer with a ton of followers is willing to share the content. According to Maiella, “If it doesn’t look artful or authentic, then the influencer might not be as inclined to share it with his or her network. After all, they have built their reputation and following on authenticity and sincerity.”
To echo Berry’s point, the next step is to make sure that the influencer’s following reshares or engages with the content that they post. If not, they may not be the best choice for your content amplification efforts.
On the Skyword Platform, finding influencers is easy. Skyword partners with Traackr, an influencer management platform that maintains a database of thousands of relevant influencers on a variety of subjects. Skyword has integrated with Traackr to provide Skyword Platform users with access to influencers in Traackr’s database through Skyword’s contributor search interface.
Understanding your target audience is a crucial factor in global marketing strategy, as well as the benefit of working with influencers from local markets. Influencers with engaged followers are the advocates that global brands need to help them hone in on specific regions and tell their story in a way that resonates with the culture. Although developing a global influencer marketing program may be challenging, gaining the trust and loyalty of your consumers is well worth the struggle.
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