Some weeks ago in this post, we have tried to define an undefined social media species: Influencers. The feedback was very positive and many companies are still trying to find the secret sauce how to use and leverage the value of influencers for their brands and their sales funnel.
Now, a recent study by Twitter gives further evidence of the value of influencers, and on how they help positioning brands and in which way they might might upload the sales funnel. The first part of the study was meant to figure out amoung more than 300 users how they responded toward brand influencers.
The study conducted by Annalect, a data analytics company, in corporation with Twitter shows that almost 40% of the responding people stated to have purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on a social platform like Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. And another 40% stated that they are following brands on Twitter.
But influencers are not only valuable in terms of sales performance. They also make people share products they are using themselves. Almost one in five (20%) respondents claimed that they shared something they saw from an influencer. Amoung Millennials even one in three said they follow a social media influencer on Twitter or Vine.
The study comes like an extension of two former studies from Nielsen and Lithium making clear that Millennials trust different people in different ways. Interestingly enough, this study also states that influencers rival friends in trust building. Just 7% of respondents rely more on recommendations from friends (56%) than from influencers (49%).
„This is telling us is that you don’t have to be a mass media star or a household name to be influential and actually drive people to buy stuff.“ Jeffrey Graham, Vice President of Market Research and Insights, Twitter
The Twitter-owned talent agency Niche revealed that the pool of influencers available to brands has grown from 6,000 to over 25,000 in a year. Honestly, we would say there os probably more depending on what you value: reach or relevance.
The smartphone has become the modern sales acceleration technology. Social influencers put trendy or interesting products on their sites or streams while walking down the street or by getting them from brands for free, and people following them would purchase those products. Have you not experienced this yourself?
The only thing we wonder is, how much would brands pay influencers to write about their product and share a picture of the product via their social media accounts? The numbers we know from influencers vary but maybe there is someone in the market who might want to share some insights.
According to the study of Harris Poll (conducted on behalf of Lithium Technologies), that addressed more than 2,300 consumers of all generations, more than half of all digital natives (56%) report to cut back or stop the use of social media platforms entirely.
Even more, 75% of the responding Millenials stated that they feel stalked by brands on social platforms. The reason: The eager way brands do target them in their news feed with the ambition to build trust and loyalty with their customers or consumers via social media platforms in the U.S.
So, what does this mean for brands? Do brands have to live according to a transformed version of the former cold call prevention: „Don’t stalk us, we follow you!“? The study suggests that direct targeting on social platforms via advertising might result in losing customers. It would be more effective to engage and to be present on the channels they use frequently. And also if brands might be tempted to leverage the huge purchasing power coming from the modern generations (Millennials and Gen Z make up 50% of the population), brands need to be careful not to waste the potential of social media and really meet their personal expectations. How challenging this might be in the end…
„The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.“ Rob Tarkoff, President&CEO, Lithium Technologies.
But how can brands build trust, the study also asked? A question that is also raised in a bi-annual study from Nielsen and might be evaluated in comparison with those results. Obviously, online is their general source of information but their trust in online exceeds that of former generations by far.
While in the Nielsen study, personal „recommendations from people I know“ are leading, Lithium sees „online sites with product reviews“ as the highest form of online trust creation. That websites are definitely not „dead“ can be seen that both studies see websites kind of in the second place. And, whereas Lithium sees „communities of like-minded people“ in the third place (just think about what their main product was…), Nielsen sees editorial content still a very important source.
In terms of service, the Lithium study shows that Millennials contact brands online (79%) and expect a response back within the same day – almost 10% more than Baby Boomers. So, if brands do not actively monitor and engage with the younger generations online, their brand loyalty might go down soon. The best way to interact with Millennials is described in a quote the study also delivers…
„I go on social media to see and know what my friends are doing. I don’t want to see ads clutter my news feed. If I’m interested in a product or service, I know where to look. Social media is a place for us to connect with our friends, not be attacked by advertisements.“ Mallory Benham, Graduate Student (23)
So, what are your learning on targeting Millennials and Gen Z via ads on social media?
They blog from the first row at catwalks. They share cool design gadgets on Instagram. They strike a pose with a selfie in front of 5-star hotels on Pinterest. And, they record „Let’s plays“ for Youtube while testing the latest computer games. The one thing they have in common? They are online influencers. A digital species that challenges and changes the marketing world of models, testimonials and the publishing industry.
According to an annual Nielsen study, it is a common knowledge that people trust most in recommendations of people they know. In the past, marketers put models or celebrities in this „recommendation seat“. It was meant to address two benefits: Brands intended to grasp some of the consumers’ attention by trying to hitch-hike on the wave of VIP awareness and public relevance. And, they used the reach of magazines and the trust those public voices had for the people.
It seems to me that the tables are turning now, and marketers have to rethink their brand extension strategy.
1. Models – the personalization dilemma
When using models, brands couldn’t tell exactly which audience they were addressing. It was a marketers’ and model agent’s best guess which model fits which brand. However, a model does not have a transparent target-group. They are just faces without any open address books or lead list.
Social influencers are their own agents. Their content markets their personality, their personality defines their content, their reach expresses their quality. They have got fans, followers, and friends that everybody (not only when following them) can see. A clear defined and dynamic target-group that is commited to them and engages with them on a regular basis. What they say gets read. What they state is trusted. In fact, their consumer opinion becomes one of the most trusted sources that people believe in – more than traditional ads of any kind.
Just imagine the influence on purchase intent, when an influencer is posting online to a large audience of friends and fans. Social influencers are perceived of their active and growing audiences as „more real“ than models, somehow even as „friends“.
But also the traditional model business is affected by the upcoming influencer trend: Previously interchangeable and relatively anonymous faces are now increasingly becoming personal brands thanks to their personalized Instagram and Snapchat channels and/or (mostly fashion- and beauty related) blogposts. Consequently, numerous models with significant reach are also acting as influencers to their audiences.
2. Testimonials – the authenticity dilemma
Testimonials need to match brand authenticity and follow the brand message in order to become valuable for marketers. Serious investment in dollars does not allow a testimonial’s mistake. Contracts are long-term and include testimonial involvement not only in all brand campaigns but also in personal PR and marketing engagement during the contracting period.
Money counts for testimonials – as much as monetary rewards do for online influencers. This is definitely true for the fashion and beauty industry, states the „Fashion & Beauty Monitor“ report in partnership with Econsultancy named „The Rise of Influencers„. However, three out of five surveyed influencers believe that the „relevance of brand in relation to own area of expertise „is essential when collaborating with marketers. Influencers are very well aware of their personality as brand that has to be secured and consequently, they do not sell everything just because they are asked to. Of course, this in return means a certain loss of control for marketers when working with powerful influencers. Just to state an example, years ago, I offered MINI a cool opportunity to collaborate with me. I fear the idea never reached the BMW four-cylinder tower – perhaps for fear of losing brand control?
Think about it: How authentic can testimonials be that are selected by brands as of their popularity in sports, fashion and lifestyle? Testimonials sell their media value. On the contrary, engagement with influencers can only work when brands do not act too commercial with them and meet their personal authenticity. Social influencers are personal brands; authentic brands that companies can collaborate with.
3. Publishers – the relevance dilemma
When content from influencers gets more attention (and is trusted more) than content from advertising, relevance becomes a critical tipping point. For years, marketers and PR experts were convinced that „serious“ traditional publishers are more relevant to readers than bloggers or any other form of social media active people. Thus, they invested serious dollars in brand building activities with the publishing industry. Today, these very media houses are approaching influencers to increase their declining media value.
A recent study by Collective Bias shows that content from influencers is viewed for more than 2 minutes (which is 7 times longer than the digital display ad average with a view time of just 19.2 seconds). Plus the relevance of someone’s personal opinion -whether rating, recommendation or review- has become of high value for consumers. Now if content from an influencer is relevant and perceived as being „authentic“ , publishing is facing serious competition in the future.
However, relevance needs to meet relevance both ways. Just putting brand messages into the mouth of online influencers won’t accelerate a brand’s value. In order to become relevant to an influencer and his or her audience, a brand needs to be „love-brand“ in a social influencer’s mind. If not, the influencer will be perceived (and probably also act) like a traditional publishing product without a media-kit.
Solving the dilemma – budget and advertising strategy
The world of testimonials, models and publishing is changing with the rise of influencers.
More and more companies and brands start working with social influencers. I personally doubt that they will completely replace models, testimonials and publishing houses, but the future will tell. However, the world of recommendations will be redefined by a new species.
According to a recent #BrandofMe study, brands invested 1 Bio. USD in 2015 in influencer programs on Instagram only. Influencers earn between 500 and 10.000 USD per Instagram photo or Youtube video – obviously depending on their media reach. Which means that some influencers get paid as much as some publishers for their ad space. A lot of budget that moves away from traditional brand building worlds.
The question is what values more to brands in terms of business impact: tradition or progression. But that question can only be answered when brands understand the power that online influencers can have on and in the sharing economy.
Based on some research from the guys at Nielsen, Pew Research and ExactTarget, the two companies Financesonline.com and Ruby Media Corporation published some interesting facts and figures that are highlighting the different usage of social media and mobile by men and women.
According to the infographic, in general women are more likely to do networking and use social media for relationship, sharing, entertainment and self-help. Men are more fact-driven and look after deals and information, and on the mobile site are more open to scan coupons and QR codes. Men are using social media predominantly for business (27%) and just (13%) for dating. Whereas women are much lower engaged in these two topics with business coming in at 22% and dating only at 7%.
The infographic makes clear that on Facebook, photos and videos (54%) and entertainment or funny posts (43%) are of interest for women, while only 39% and (35%) of men are viewing them. Women are more active in sharing on facebook as well: 50% share with multiple people (men only 42%).
How important do you see social search for your brand or your company? Not much. Well, you might reconsider this answer when you have read some of the stats provided by Prestige Marketing in the following infographic.
The compilation of figures and data gives some insights in why brands need to understand the benefits of social search.
– When exposed to relevant branded media, consumers are more likely to click your information: search click-through rates increase 94%.
– Comparable to the Nielsen findings some months ago, 78% of consumers trust personal recommendations over search result rankings.
– In order to make purchase decisions, 48% of digital buyers use search and social media for their buying decisions.
„Social search engines use data from social networks and online relationships, including rating, shares, and likes, to determine the display order of search query results,“ claims the infographic.
The following infographic will tell you more about a toppic you might not really be spot on…
But what if reviews are simply wrong, or bought from people that don’t flag these reviews as hidden content marketing derivates? Years ago, we might have asked our friends or close people where to go for dinner, what music tape to buy, or which book to read, we now just go online and read what some foreigner might have said. No matter which mentality this person has, which preferences, which background, which age and gender. The 3 Rs make our decisions easier, we think.
Although we might have all guessed it, the proof of wrong online reviews now comes with a study from the MIT and Northwestern University that examined over 400,000 reviews in 6 months. The study states that many reviews were simply deceptive, untrue or even written by people who never tested or bought the product or service. In 5% of all negative reviews people get paid to hype products. Most of these people are writing bad and often untrue reviews but are actually newcomer to the business they are talking about.
The good part of this study is that the study offer some advice for us and tells us how to detect deceptive story-telling.
„What is most compelling is most reviews tend to be too detailed. Another easy clue look for is repeated use of exclamation points. Two, three or four for emphasis, is often associated with deception,“ Eric Anderson, Northwestern University Professor and co-author of the study said. „At the end (of the study) we concluded that many of the negative reviews came from customers who were trying to act as self proclaimed appointed brand managers.“ Anderson summed up.
However, many reviews might be untrue or bought, it is probably a good way to try to understand what negative reviews are basically saying and balance it against positive reviews. Seeing the positive reviews makes us get out of the bad tonality which often is simply based on anger and frustration around bad services and untrue or bought reviews. And the more people are trying to dive deeper into the intention and personality of the reviews, the faster they might detect if the review is deceptive.
„Really what you have to do is read a lot of them. Don’t just read the 2 or 3 negative ones which may or may not be real–read alot of the reviews.“ Ken Bernhardt, former Professor of Marketing, Georgia State University
It is one of those generations marketers always try to understand and get their heads around as these young people will significantly define the future of brands: Gen-Z (18-23 years) is changing the way marketers have to do their communication around brands and companies. They are closer to and trust more Social Media and mobile than other generations, but they also still like email. At least if we believe in the results of one of the latest Forrester report.
The report author Tracey Stokes stated in blog post last month „Gen-Zers are open to a relationship with brands, as long as those brands are authentic and live up to their high expectations and consistently deliver what they need“.
For the Gen-Z target-group the world means anyone, anytime, anywhere, anyhow. The digital communication world sets no limits for them. Unsurprisingly, according to the Forrester report, this generation will consume more media online than offline. However, there is also a massive challenge for the world to come as distraction is a massive issue in the world of Gen-Z’ers.
The study makes clear that 84% multitask, using an Internet-connected device while watching TV. On average, this target-group is working with 1.5 other Internet-connected devices (e.g., laptops and cell phones) during their TV sessions. While some earlier study from Nielsen tells us that ads and promotions are not so much trusted these days, the Forrester study claims that the Gen-Z target-Group trusts online content -also ads and promos- more than other generations.
Blogging also adds to the credibility of companies and brands in the Gen-Z generation. The research states tat 22% of the surveyed Gen-Z consumers state they trust somewhat or completely posts by companies or brands on social networking sites. Compared to other generations, this is almost 49% higher. Also, the Gen-Z target-group is 48% more likely than other generations to trust somewhat or completely the content on mobile applications from brands. Even text messages from brands are trusted still. Still, search remains one of the biggest forms to get access to content.
The Gen-Z target-group is facing many forms of communication, promotions but also a massive variety of brand messages. This makes buying decisions more difficult for them but also turns them into a demanding form of consumers. Getting into conversations becomes the main business approach for companies and brands. The old penetration and persuation way of communication won’t work with the Gen-Z tagret-group. The more brands participate in the brand conversations, the more the target-group will open up to receive the brand messages. However, the fluid transition between online and offline communication is essential in brand communication. Marketers should better prepare their business to deliver a seamless brand experience.
What experiences did you make so far with Gen-Z…?
We all experience on a daily business how mobile devices are changing our world. Mobiles become more and more our shopping companion, and with it mobile search becomes more and more popular to satisfy our needs. Google and Nielsen cooperated in a recent report to illustrate where and how people use mobile search, and what purchasing behaviour results from it.
Most mobile search activities happen in the afternoon and evening. However, the activities happen at home (68%) and not from „on-the-go“ (17%). The driver for the activity is 81% the need for „speed and convenience“. Funnily enough people believe that doing a mobile search at home is easier than opening the computer (83%).
Concerning the types of mobile search, it varies still. People tend to do food and shopping „in-stores“ versus finding travel information which is done from their office or while on-the-go. The interesting finding for marketers is that these searches drive users to do additional activities. 73% trigger additional actions after doing their mobile search.
The study makes clear that mobile searches are pushing fast online and offline activities. More than half of all mobile users do call a business, make a purchase and visit a store in the short time-period of only one hour. Furthermore, mobile searches becomes more and more impactful for businesses. Mobile searches trigger consumers for additional actions and conversions (73%). The respondents of the study also visited a retailer’s website (25%), shared information (18%) and visited a store (17%).
Although this study might have some Google touch, the reports offers some good insight into the offline and online world and how it gets driven by mobile search. We should not be surprised to get further new mobile products from Google for users (mobile value-add) as well as for marketers (mobile ad products).
Which products would you like to see from Google for mobile search that don’t exist yet?
Now, I have used this Nielsen graphic in seminars and conferences for two years and always wondered when the next study is going to be published.
Finally today, I came across the latest Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report. And again, the results are similar to what they where back in 2009. People still don’t trust advertising. Well, let’s say… at least not as much as they trust recommendations from people they know like friends, family and peers. However, it is still somehow scary to bear in mind that people trust consumer opinions expressed online… very often without verifying who say what in which scenario and which stage of life.
According to the Nielsen findings, which surveyed over 28,000 Internet people in 56 countries, 92% of the respondents said they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. This equals an increase of 18% compared to 2007. Consumer opinions posted online come in at the second place of most trusted source. Of the consumers surveyed globally, 70% indicated they trust messages from online platforms. This makes up an increase by 15% in the last four years.
Publishing houses and platforms still get a lot of trust from their users. Editorial content (58%) finished in the thread place, just before branded websites (58%), and opt-in emails (50%). The traditional platforms for advertising like print, television, and radio are significantly lower from a trust point of view. The drop in value since 2009 goes down by 24%.
The results show the importance of content marketing carrying the truth about your company, brand or products. Openness, authenticity and transparency are still rated very high amongst your customers. They want to „know what they get“. They want to engage with you but also being told the truth if there is something bad or uncertain to say about brands and their development. And above all they want you to respond to their input. They want you to give them some attention, some feedback, some credit for the time they spend. Then you will earn their trust, and then they will share your voice.
Man macht sich dann so Gedanken wie… Ob das überhaupt jemand bemerkt und interessiert? Warum gerade ich? Wieso nicht ein anderer bekannter Medienvertreter? Aber vermutlich hat turi2 seine Social VIP Testimonials sorgfältig ausgewählt. Zumindest gehen wir bei der Qualität des investigativen Journalismus von turi2 mal davon aus.
Vorgestern finde ich also auf meiner Facebook Wall folgende Bemerkung…
„Glückwunsch zum Start als Werbeikone bei turi2!! ;)“
Ein Ex-Kollege hatte meine Freude das wissen lassen. Was man erst nicht glaubt, erscheint einem dann offensichtlich und authentisch, wenn man auf turi2 ging.
Warum ist diese Textanzeige etwas besonderes?
Zum einen zeigt es mal die Wirkung von Empfehlungsanzeigen, respektive Facebook Anzeigen, in einer Community auf die User. Vor Wochen habe ich bereits auf dem Eyeblaster Blog die essentielle Wichtigkeit der Referenz-Nennung eines Freundes in den Facebook Anzeigen betont. Die taktische Massnahme des Referenz-Marketings, oder wie man auch sagen könnte, des Aufzeigens eines sozialen Marken-VIPs, wird auf Facebook sehr clever eingesetzt. Die Wirkung zeigt sich in der Vielzahl an generierten Fans für Company Fan Pages oder Branded Pages.
Zum anderen, weil die turi2 Anzeige sich von den klassischen Facebook Anzeigen unterscheidet. Entsprechend einer Business-Referenz nennt sie nämlich vorerst den Namen das Unternehmen, für das ich tätig bin. Diese Erstnennung dürfte CBS freuen. Erst dann nennt man meine Person als Experten-Empfehlung. Ein nicht ganz unerheblicher Überzeugungsgrund vermutlich für potentielle Interessenten der turi2 Fan-Page.
Dieser Post soll aber mal grundsätzlich aufzeigen, daß wir eigentlich alle bei Facebook, oder anderen Communitys, zur „Werbeikone“ werden können. Dann nämlich, wenn auch in klassischen Banner Anzeigen die Kraft des Empfehlungs-Marketings eingesetzt wird. Nur müßte dafür ein neues System geschaffen werden, was auf eine Bannernutzer-Datenbank zurückgreift. Sicherlich keine einfache Herausforderung. Denn die Hand-Picked Lösung ist vermutlich auf grafischer Ebene eine Herausforderung. Sie bietet aber auch Vorteile bei der selektiven Empfehlung für spezielle Neukunden oder neue Community-Mitglieder.
Was bei turi2 eine „hand-picked choice“ war, folgt bei Facebook einem automatischen System. Scoot Woods, Commercial Director bei Facebook schrieb mir dazu, daß es derselben Technologie folge, wie wenn man auf eine Seite geht und sieht, welche seiner Freunde im Social Graph bereits mit dieser Seite verbunden sind.
Die Idee der Referenzanzeigen hat Methode und macht Sinn: Referenz-Marketing ist die Zukunft. Wissen wir doch aus der Nielsen Studie (April 2009), vertrauen 90% den Empfehlungen von Leuten, die sie kennen. Somit macht es Sinn, sich des Themas Referenz-Marketing in Unternehmen verstärkt zu widmen.
Seht Ihr das ähnlich? Oder anders? Freue mich auf Eure Meinungen…