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Here's How Shaping Influence Drives Brands

 New forms of marketing are seldom accepted with arms wide open. When online advertising first became a thing, marketers looked askance, wondering how this badly fractured media almost specifically geared toward basement-dwellers under 30 could ever possibly replace broadcast and print. Fast forward about 20 years, and we've seen how well it works. Now, we're having a similar moment about social media marketing, and new studies are showing how shaping influence can be a big gain for marketers.  Travel brands, for example, routinely turn to shaping influence as a means to connect with users on social media, going after...

Funny, Informative Earned Media Gives Brands Best Return

Figuring out just which media to use in an advertising mix can be a challenge. After all, with so many different types from print to television to online and social, that's a lot of different fronts to cover with no guarantee of success in any of them. A new report reveals that in some of the biggest markets on Earth, earned media—promotion that's gained through someone else's mention instead of something that's paid for—is still delivering a lot of value.

With 62 percent of Chinese respondents, 47 percent of U.S. respondents and 44 percent of UK respondents all coming out in favor of earned media, it's clear this approach should be front-of-mind for many marketers.

Moreover, what customers want in that marketing varies according to the need at the time. For instance, content that has an emotional impact like making someone laugh gives it a better chance to be shared. The UK shares funny content most readily at 31 percent, followed by the U.S. at 26 percent and China at 18 percent. Content that offers information is valuable as well, with 46 percent of U.S. respondents, 47 percent UK and 50 percent China all planning to share content with product information. (Read more)

6 advantages for banks, equity investors, financial planners and wealth managers to grow their business with social media

In a professional setting, most people would agree that referrals from a trusted colleague or other reliable source are inherently more credible than ads or cold calls. That same logic applies online, and affirms the value of social media engagement.

When people in your professional network (think LinkedIn connections) share, like and comment on your news and other content, they are extending a personal referral. Except on social media, that recommendation is to a mass audience, not just one person. Of note, is that according to LinkedIn Sales Solutions’ report, 78% of ‘social sellers’ outperform peers who don’t use social media.

But herein lies the rub. The stereotype, too often accepted by those in the financial sphere, is that social media amounts to something of a frill: an afterthought or add-on to a conventional sales and marketing strategy. Yet if smart business leaders hope to reach a captive audience of consumers and prospective customers where they spend a majority of their time, it’s not possible to ignore the vast audiences social media sites attract. (read more)

Where to Find the Best Brand Ambassadors

 Whether effective marketing has outright eluded your company or if you have an effective marketing strategy but you know it could be better, there is probably something very powerful you are missing — “Influencer Communications.” Also known as “Influencer Engagement,” this powerful marketing approach combines next-generation and traditional marketing methods and funnels them to and through purchasing influencers of various types. While you might not be leveraging influencers of any type right now, there is one that is walking your hallways, working at your desks, and sitting across from you in meetings. It’s your own employees.

Indeed, as traditional marketing chiefly relies on a sales and marketing team, Influencer Communications can harness the social power of the many other people and departments within your organization that have the ability to positively influence customers and help usher in new business. Due to their relationships and social media connections to potential customers, your executives, business development team, and anyone else in the company that helps drive day-to-day operations are directly or indirectly connected to your target audience. As such, the goal for Influencer Communications is to get everyone in your company involved in outreaching to your target audience. (read more)

Does your content need more cowbell?

According to 2016 research done by Pew Research Center, 62 percent of adults get their news on social media. Not only are social media sites Facebook, Twiiter, and Reddit being turned to for B2B news, the research also shows that users of sites like LinkedIn more actively seek out news as opposed to simply happening upon it; 51% of LinkedIn’s reported 450 million users actively seek out news on the platform. As news consumption is moving to social media, reported ClickZ, homepages become less important for readers, and that, “it’s OK to accept that the traffic is directed differently nowadays.” Coupled with findings from DMR showing the increase in LinkedIn member page views from 37 billion in Q4 2015 to 45 billion in Q1 2016, the writing is on the wall.

At the same time, there’s been a shift in how consumers feel about marketing messages from strangers versus those from trusted sources, or influencers. Collective Bias, a company specializing in influencing campaigns for brands and retailers, performed a recent study that underscored the value of influencer-based content. Results showed that consumers view content from influencers seven times longer than a digital display ad (two minutes, eight seconds versus 19.2 seconds). In short, consumers trust content from sources they trust. Thankfully, your organization is probably full of trusted influencers ready to be leveraged.

This might all feel overwhelming to a busy marketer, and yet all of these changes must be taken into consideration if you want your content to not just be consumed, but to also resonate. Luckily, this can be accomplished with the following 4 steps (continue reading)

Influencer Communications: How and Why to Influence the Influencers

 In a recent Shaping Influence article, Paula Bernier explains a bit about the importance of engagement. Why have the faces of anonymous models on the covers of magazines and in TV commercials been replaced with those of celebrities, musicians and supermodels? The answer is influence.

Style makers from the big (meaning movie) and small (now including computer and smartphone as well as TV) screens can, of course, be actresses and singers, as well as the kid down the block or a popular blogger. Indeed, the internet has democratized the world of communications and influence. But the fact remains that there are still some people who are able to draw a (physical and/or virtual) crowd and impact the decision making of those around them.

These individuals have come to be known as influencers. And these influencers are shaking up the worlds of advertising and marketing.

Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing online customer acquisition channel of those marketers polled by Tomoson, which estimates that businesses make $6.50 for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing.  About 40 percent of those polled by analytics company Annalect and Twitter said they've purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine or YouTube. And Digital Visitor says influencer marketing has become an essential part of the strategies in the fashion, hospitality, retail and travel sectors.

Anthony Rawlins, managing director for Digital Visitor, in a recent report noted that a Google study from 2014 indicates the internet is the clear leader in inspiring leisure travel decisions, while TV follows as a distant second. Yet, he added, it can be difficult to track the impact of influencer marketing due to a lack of industry standards of measurement related to it.  However, Rawlins said that organizations with an interest in engaging with influencers in an effort to promote their products might consider inviting these individuals to participate in themed experiences. For example, he suggested, a business could invite an influencer and his or her mother to be part of a Mother’s Day event or promotion. Twitter Chats are another means of connecting with influencers and their followers...continue reading

Influencer Communications & Marketing Is a Multifaceted Opportunity to Share Authentic Messages with Customers

Recently on Shaping Influence, Tracey Schelmetic notes how when social media was a few years old, and expanded beyond family vacation photos and cat videos, marketers started to become aware of something interesting: unlike any channel in the past, it could be used to spread subtle messages virally, particularly through the people who wielded a lot of influence in social media. Smart companies began creating messages that were mostly likely to be shared virally, particularly by people who had a lot of friends and followers. They began calling it “influence marketing."

Since the earliest days of social media, customers have begun to use these platforms for more than memes and selfies. They’ve begun following the companies they like, sharing worthwhile information, and even using the channels to communicate with companies for customer support or feedback.

“The degree of influence varies from person to person and platform to platform,” wrote Maggie Marton for BlogPaws recently. “But the core concept is the same: You are known to your readers. They like you. Most importantly, they trust you. So, when you suggest a product or ask for a click or a share, they’re more included to do it than if it came from, say, a big retailer.”

In the same way that people trust the opinions of friends and family more when it comes to recommendations on purchasing decisions...KEEP READING

Credibility and Knowledge Translate to Value in the World of Influencer Communications & Social Engagement

 A recent post on Shaping Influence addresses how in the dizzyingly fickle and fast-paced world of influencer communications, engagement and social media, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to separate value and expertise from the fakers and the cheaters. Companies need a clear game plan to navigate this complicated and crowded world while retaining brand integrity and credibility. A recent Expertcity whitepaper offers some guidelines to organizations regarding the impact and effectiveness of social reach, expertise, credibility and trust.

For instance, according to Fast Company, 91 percent of brand mentions on social media originate from accounts with fewer than 500 followers. These mentions may be much more powerful and influential than an off-topic plug from an account with thousands or millions of followers. There is a very clear distinction between true influence, resulting in brand awareness and sales, and “vanity metrics” such as likes, shares and comments that never translate to any measurable value.  Companies need to understand and build on the value of social media influencers who have actual first-hand experience with their products and brands, an interest in sharing this expertise with others and the capability to speak about products knowledgeably. Keep reading >>>

The goal of Influencer Communications is to engage the people connected to your target audience

 Influencer Communications, also known as “Influencer Engagement,” is a powerful marketing approach that combines next-generation and traditional marketing methods and funnels them to and through purchasing influencers of various types. While you might not be leveraging influencers of any type right now, there is one that is walking your hallways, working at your desks, and sitting across from you in meetings. It’s your own employees. Due to their relationships and social media connections to current and potential customers, your executives, business development team, and anyone else in the company that helps drive day-to-day operations are directly or indirectly connected to your target audience. As such, the goal for Influencer Communications is to get everyone in your company involved in outreaching to your target audience.

A prerequisite of Influencer Communications is having content your influencers can leverage. Content can vary depending on your industry and target customer; however it is common to develop assets such as case studies, white papers, blogs, videos, and photos. In most cases, it’s considered best practice to develop assets that fall into all of these categories. As we will discuss, having many assets will improve your influencers’ abilities to succeed. Click here to continue reading

Social Influences Drawing Interest from Biggest Brands Around

 Shaping Influence: There's no doubt that social media is drawing users. It's also proving to be one of the more popular methods to get in touch with a brand by regular consumers. That contact works both ways, and major brands are increasingly turning to social influencers to draw attention and potential customers to a brand. Read Steve Anderson's take on Shaping Influence how SharkReach is tackling influencer engagement>>>

Influencer Relations: A primer on identifying influencers, engaging and measuring success

“Influencer Communications,” or “Influencer Engagement” is more than a buzzword; it’s a formula that combines multi-channel advocacy, content and social marketing with "traditional" public relations and corporate communications. From analysts and media to customers, employees and partners, the types of influencers — and ways they’re in which they’re engaged — vary, and are what make this method unique. Check out my latest post on Shaping Influence for insight on identifying influencers, engaging and quantifying success. Click here >>>

Influencer Content Holds User Attention Seven Times Longer than Display Ads

 The latest installment in Shaping Influence sheds light on some very interesting data. Findings from Collective Bias's Time on Content feature, which offers a key indicator as to the relevancy of influencer content, consumers view their influencer content for an average duration of two minutes and eight seconds—almost seven times longer than the digital display ad average of 19.2 seconds based on viewability standards measured by Moat Analytics. Click here to read more on this compelling report >>>

Counting on 'Social Capital': The New Way to Evaluate Entrepreneurial Worth

 The latest on Shaping Influence. In this post, contributor Chris Hale, CEO and Founder of kountable, Inc., talks about developing Social Capital. Click here to read Chris's insight on how you can attract, engage and convert influencers >>>

Shaping Influence: Four Ways to Know You've Found the Right Influencers

Contributor Peter Scott examines how to identify the right influencers for your content and digital engagement. Read his post in Shaping Influence>>>

Shaping Influence: Employee engagement through gamification

Gamification can have far more serious results for businesses than just fun and games. By leveraging the competitive dynamics of games that make playing so addictive, companies can actively engage customers and employees to encourage loyalty, ignite brand advocates, and reward behaviors that sustain - and grow - the business. Click here to read how by addressing three critical factors, gamification can deliver results far beyond raising brand awareness.