Marketers' Breakfast: Discover Customer Love and Influencer Marketing

8th December 2016

On Wednesday, we hosted another breakfast which centred on ‘influence’. Recently, there’s been an explosion of interest in influencer marketing, with many brands adding this approach to their marketing mix. Despite its sudden popularity, frequent Google searches on ‘what is influencer marketing?’ and ‘does influencer marketing work?’ suggest everyone hasn’t quite got to grips with it.

Luckily, last week we hosted a savvy bunch and were able to get the lowdown on how we can harness ‘influence’. Bob Workman, VP of Partnerships at Warner Music, spoke authoritatively about the need for brands to give real thought to the artists they partner with. Bob advised that brands should make sure their influencer partnerships are authentic: to connect with musicians that already love what they do. He pointed to Ciroc’s ‘roc & tonic’ partnership with P Diddy as a great example of this.

Yet the glitz and glamour doesn’t work for all. Debbie Woskkow, Founder of Love Home Swap (the world’s leading home exchange platform) noted that it’s not celebrity figures but customers that are the most effective influencers. It’s their stories about experiencing a holiday in a home and saving money that gets others excited about using the platform. This is the reason behind Love Home Swap incentivising customers to share their stories wherever they can. Brands don’t always need to look externally for influence, but can capitalise on the product expertise and love of their most loyal customers.

Ollie Smyth (Social Media Manager at adidas) had another take on influencer marketing – specifically about the importance of building communities around ‘micro-influencers’. This refers to individuals that are not famous per se, but who are prominent in their social networks – think of them as that friend who always bumps into someone they know on a night out. At adidas, Ollie leverages social influence amongst rising football fanatics through ‘The Tango Squad’. This comprises of socially switched-on football influencers living in cities worldwide, who receive exclusive content and new products through direct platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

The creation of the squad was fuelled by adidas’s desire to capitalise on social networks, and a progressive response to ‘dark social’. This refers to the direct interactions taking place on channels such as WhatsApp that remain pretty impenetrable to marketers. But why does this matter? Does a brand really need to hear us moaning about our Monday morning commute? Probably not, but what they would like to understand is the 60% of all recommendations that are made via these channels.

Despite ‘The Tango Squad’ being at the bleeding-edge of dark social, Ollie noted that measuring the full effect of the initiative is proving to be difficult. His concern regarding measuring influencer marketing was shared round the table, with Oliver Wheeler (CEO of PR agency THRSXTY) agreeing that we’re at a stage where only some impact of influencer marketing can be properly tracked. Yet despite this caveat, all of our guests feel that the excitement surrounding influence-based marketing is justified.

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