New data from an Augure study shows that so-called “influencer” marketing has been growing in recent months, both in use and effectiveness. According to the study, marketers who are looking to collaborate with online influencers increasingly use them to distribute the information in content marketing, with 57 percent of survey participants saying that they use these online leaders to promote online content.
“Influencers,” according to the study’s authors, are opinion leaders online who have large audiences and can mobilize opinions about the topics in which they are experts. These people may be users of a product, but they can also be third parties who use their weighty Internet stature to contribute content about a brand or related topic.
Aside from content marketing distribution, respondents overwhelmingly said they’d use influencers to help with product launches: 76 percent of respondents said they’d use this type of marketing to promote a new product.
One of the big reasons why influencer marketing has taken off in recent months is that both influencers and marketers benefit from this collaboration. Augure noted that many influencers in the survey—31 percent—are simply seeking content from marketers from which they can craft posts, lead discussions, and grow their presence online.
And for marketers, having the opportunity to get the word out to an engaged audience is its own reward. These common goals foster a natural collaborative spirit that makes the relationship an easy one for content marketers to maintain.
Though using social media influencers to promote content through social media channels is a relatively new trend in the marketing world, an eMarketer report noted influencer marketing budgets are set to increase. For eample, eMarketer cited a 2013 Altimeter research report that found four in 10 marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets in the future.
On the surface, influencer marketing might look like a way for marketers to pick “winners” in an online popularity contest. But influencers are more than just an accumulation of Facebook Likes and Twitter followers.
If you are truly looking for individuals to lead these types of marketing campaigns, you need to find individuals who are, above all, authoritative voices in the community you are trying to market to. On the public relations blog of software company Meltwater, contributor Marc Cowlin notes that online influence is about both trust and reach.
If you want to track down a strong influencer, he writes, look at how many followers they have—but also pay attention to how those followers react to posts and tweets.
“With journalists and bloggers, it’s easy to estimate influence level by looking at how widely their stories are shared online and the level of agreement in the comment section of their online stories. With social media the same is true, check to see how often an influencer is retweeted, liked, etc.”
Research is showing that influencer marketing is only going to become more prominent—as Cowlin notes, it’s best to start understanding what makes online voices prominent in the first place.
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