The value of (online) influencers: An attempt to define an undefined digital species

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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.

Nielsen Study Trust 2015

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.

Nielsen Study Recommendation 2015

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.

Catch Up! Essential Skills of Modern Marketers (Infographic)

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If you are a great marketer, you always want to be ahead of the curve with your marketing team. But what talent ingredients does it need today to be among the leading experts of modern marketing? eMarketer has just come up with their latest „Skills of the Modern Marketer“ report.

In this report we get to know the skills that senior marketers have to achieve or to be coached for in order to manage their teams correct supported by the latest trends. And it becomes clear that it is not only about knowing the right marketing tactics and trends, we also have to shape our personality with empathy, adaptability and collaboration skills. And furthermore, it has become a challenge to understand the latest marketing technologies and how they can foster the ROI of your business.

The following infographic summarizes the report and the findings, based on interviews and a survey with senior level marketers.

eMarketer Essential Skills Modern Marketer Infographic

5% of negative online reviews are deceptive, finds MIT study

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© carlos castilla - Fotolia.com

© carlos castilla – Fotolia.com

We all know that ratings, reviews and recommendations -the 3 R’s of the social consumer- rule the modern world of shopping and our daily customer journeys. When we are trying to figure out the coolest holiday hotel, the latest gadget or the cheapest flights, people tend to rely on what online reviews tell them before purchasing whatever they are longing for. Online reviews make a big impact on our life and happiness, and turn the customer journey into a big secret. Nielsen and Forrester have shown in their studies how we find trust in brands and products, and reviews play a significant role in the purchase decision-making processs.

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.

Spot On!
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

5 Tips for Managing an Ecommerce Website

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Whether you’re experimenting with online sales or have already run businesses in the past, when you are first creating an ecommerce website you’ll want to keep a few tips in mind. These can help you use today’s technology to find and retain a steady client base.

1. Use Simple Web Design
With such a high degree of competition out there, even for the most obscure products, you’re going to have to put some time and effort into your website to make it stand out from the crowd. You don’t have to have any web design experience to do this if you use an ecommerce software program with templates. These can usually be customized in terms of logo, font, and colour themes. Aside from this assistance, you’ll want to use your imagination and think of a catchy name for your business as well as an easy-to-navigate site.

2. Organize your Product Catalogue Using Categories
A big part of making your online store easily navigable for customers lies in how you organize your products. It’s easier for customers when you arrange your products into logical categories or collections, so that they can find what they’re looking for more easily. Adding a „sale“ category can help customers feel that they’ve stumbled onto a bargain, so think about running promotions and sale items as a separate collection altogether. Be sure to include high quality pictures of the products along with descriptions.

3. Make Payment Easy for Customers
Once your customers have located the items that they wish to purchase, some ecommerce business owners feel that they have already sealed the deal. In actuality, this is where it can all go wrong if you make it hard for a customer to pay you. You’ll want a smooth and easy checkout system that offers multiple methods of payment. One example of this would be a Shopify ecommerce website, which provides a shopping cart and integrated payment system. You’ll want to look for a platform of this nature to help encourage the final sale. If you’re selling products internationally, it’s also helpful to include a currency converter. Be sure to provide a telephone number or email address for customer support for added security.

4. Create a Blog
There are numerous ways to market your online store, including using social media and email newsletters, among others. Yet one of the most effective ways to get in touch with a wide net of potential customers is through creating your own blog. This is also a good way to showcase your brand and personality, thus creating a valuable first impression.

5. Use Analytics to Track Customers
Although many online business owners use analytics tools to track what visitors end up purchasing on their website, you can make use of these tracking tools for a host of other purposes. For example, with analytics you can find out how your customers found you, which URL’s are referring customers to your online store, and what search terms they’re using. With this information, you can more tightly hone your marketing efforts to reach a wider audience.

This post is a guest post from Shopify.

Profiling the social customer (infographic)

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If marketers are looking to understand the profile of a social consumers, they need to have deep insights into their souls and needs. Beyond Digital has asked 3,000 US and UK consumers about the two products and services they had most recently researched online and which steps take them through the purchase process.

Apart from showing gender differences, sharing becomes the main element of strategy. The social consumer is a two-faced personality: First, they can either be categorized as a high or low sharer. A human being that utilizes differtent digital channels in a different manner, depending on whether he or she is researching and interacting with high or low involvement products. Those with a high sharer profile are the most valuable for brands. They recommend products 3x more often and influence others’ purchases…

Study: Where, why and how do people share content…

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For some years, I have used a graphic by ShareThis to show how content is distributed, or as we say today: How content is shared. And sharing is important to generate buzz, companies and brands thought and Social Media experts made us think so. It still is but there a tiny differences which might affect your business impact…

ShareThis is sharing their latest sharing insights in cooperation with Starcom MediaVest Group and Rubinson Partners, and it seems the social web sky is not as blue as people thought. The ShareThis button offers many insights to the platform owners and how people use social tools and networks to share „their“ content. And when you have the ability to analyse the sharing habits of over 300 million people and 1000 publishers a month who pass links with a ShareThis button, resulting in 7 billion pageviews a month, then there is definitely some trends you can make out…

The study shows that sharing now accounts for an estimated 10% of all Internet traffic and 31% of referral traffic to sites from search and social. However, search still is twice as big as social.

It is not surprising that Facebook rules the sharing process these days. In terms of clicking through to sites, Facebook now generates 38% of all sharing referral traffic. Email and Twitter come in at second with each 17%. However, Facebook does even better. 56% of all shared content comes from the leader in social networks. Email do 15% (down from 34%!) and Twitter at 8% (down from 12%).

But which social network does better in actual clicks? Twitter is better here: Links on the micro-blogging platform are clicked 4.9 times each, Facebook 4.3 times and email 1.7 times. It would be interesting to see if there are no numbers for social bookmarking platforms. I would like to see which of these platforms are resources for those who are the „first clickers and sharers“.

Why? The study puts a question mark behind the sharing philosophy that talks about the viral capabilities of networks. If people share a link, then the first level of people who get the link will click but if these firtst clickers pass it on, then the chance to get more attention and clicks falls massively. This shows the importance of brand advocates for the distribution of content but also for the pocesses inside your sales, marketing, HR and customer service teams. Most companies and brands still don’t understand the value of these business enablers.

Spot On!
The study gives advice which social networks are good for which sharing topics. On Facebook people like to share entertainment and shopping links whereas Twitter is more for business and health topics. People tend to share what they are most involved in, or what their conversations with friends, fans and followers are about. No difference to the offline world. Sharing is the future of business approval, and the modern definition of personality. People are not sharing everything, although some companies would love to see this. 80% of people share only one category of links. It is even less when it comes to clicking: More than 70% will just click on one category.

Do these numbers surprise us? Or would you share something you don’t LIKE?

Study: For Boomers Optimism and Social Conscience of brands is key

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Marko Greitschus / pixelio.de

Are Boomers trying to be younger than they are? Are they just identifying themselves from a brand perspective with a more youthful mindset? Are they buying the latest product trends of brands? A recent study conducted by WPP’s The Geppetto Group states that adults -especially Baby Boomers- are seeking brands that mirror an optimistic feeling back to them. So in some way the study suggests that Boomers have a more sustainable perspective when buying brands.

The survey polled 200 men and women (35 – 64) to find out what drives this audience towards certain brands and how this might affect the purchasing decision process. The message is: We don’t forget those brands we had when we were young. Our personalities are closely connected with these brands – especially if these brands were associated with positive messages.

„Marketers need to ask themselves if they’re missing the boat when it comes to Boomers. Are they offering them optimism and social conscience, and are they identifying with inherent qualities of their youths? Think of the impact that kind of thinking could have for sports retailers or restaurant chains for instance.“ Julie Halpin, Founder and CEO, The Geppetto Group

The study sums up three major findings that are important to know for marketers…

1. 66% of adults are looking for brands that express their personality

For the GenXers and Boomers technology brands express what their personality stands for. Especially if the brands are going hand-in-hand with expressing youthful qualities. Brands like Apple, Dell, Sony and HP were good reflections of their inner selves. And also Levi Jeans are still popular for them, not so much fashion brands like Diesel or Seven for all Mankind.

2. 57% of adults are challenging brands to surprise and delight them

The study finds that Boomers get exhited about brands that for younger generation might come along as boring. For Boomers brands like Swiffer, Keurig and Under Gear can be surprising again, the study reads. On this point I would have loved to get a clearer picture of how the argumentation

3. Optimism and (corporate) social ethics are important for Boomers

Are these values becoming more and more important, the more people experience in life? Is this because you think more about life, the older you get? The study states that brands that incorporate optimism and social responsibility in their messaging score 12-13 points higher for Boomers than for the Gen Xers.

Spot On!
Buying brands people always want to make a statement about their personality. Some to bolster their identity, some to define their personality – some to show off. Brands play a massive role in the process of self-definition in our global value system. If Boomers purchase products we used to think that trust and reliability plays a big role in the purchase process. The study now illustrates that the messages the „In“ brands spread out, don’t necessarily reach the Boomers that are more aligned with the brands of the past, and might be embracing optimistic messaging than just running after the „latest and greatest“ of the younger generation. For me it also makes clear that the value system of brands needs to be reviewed.

5 stairways to „Why should we use Twitter…?“

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Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

This is one of the question, I still get asked frequently by many friends, fans and business decision makers in webinars or seminars: „Why should I (or we) use Twitter?“

The answer is so simple, so obvious, so broad. Just as broad as the opportunities and chances that are opening up when people listen to Twitter.

Twitter is like a stairway to a modern social personality which is self-defining, enlightening and inspirational…

I listen so we are…
I follow so we can rate and like…
I get followed so we show interest in lives…
I learn so we see peoples‘ latest thoughts, visions and ideas…
I share so we keep people connected as a never running dry fountain of inspiration…

This is why I use Twitter and why you, your company and your employees might do so as well. And why I manage my Twitter account myself, and don’t let anyone else manage it – no matter if private or business. Or as Twitter says in their new video… „Follow Your Interests. Discover Your World. Twitter“.

News Update – Best of the Day

11.01.2011 von  
Kategorie Daily Top 3

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The first „News Update – Best of the Day“ in 2011, I would like to start with a competition… I am looking for a new creative for this section – I cannot see the old „Wordle“ graphic any longer. Here is the old, outdated creative if you hadn’t seen it…

There are now limitations from a creative point of view – apart from my CI colours…
beige: C1AE90 = R:193, G: 174, B144 – orange: EA9420 = R:234, G: 148, B32 – red: 8B4A2C = R: 139, G: 74, B: 44

The price…
The winner gets an award winner profile post on The Strategy Web, will be quoted under the picture in approx. 100 posts in 2011 and receives 6 bottles of wine! My users will be the tough judges. Creatives must be handed in to martin (at) domain URL until 28th of February. Format: 200×200 pixels. Good luck, let inspiration flow – Looking forward to your ideas!

It seems to me that with all the social globalization happening at the moment, the desire for individuality and personality is the future driver for creativity. What mi adidas offers for their brand fans is going to be Nike iD Nation for the American brand. It is a community for individuals to express their „brand-love“, to get inspired, and to customize your own product. Just wondering if Pumatalk and New Balance Live add similar personalization features to their communities in the future…

Nike 6.0 Presents iDNation from Nike 6.0 on Vimeo.

Somehow it reminds one of the movie „I Robot“, when a car does not need a driver anymore. The GM EN-V (pronounced „envy“ and short for „Electric Networked Vehicle“) works as follows: It is using sensors like cameras and sonar to save pedestrians from getting hurt. Network technology enables the cars to talk to each other. Sounds easy and works (read more at CNN) or just watch the video…

KLM Surprise – a discussable social media campaign…

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When I first came across the KLM Surprise idea, I thought „cool customer service“, „very modern approach“ and „nice use of a Social Media campaign“. It seems KLM engages in how to make their clients happy, how to understand personalized customer service of the future and how to use social media to reach out to their clients one step ahead.

On a second thought, clients could be overwhelmed in a negative way. The approach of the airline might be seen as „social media stal….“. Shall we really use this phrase? Is there some validity in it?

The idea implements all aspects and features of an advertising campaign, and the KLM claim for me seems to be: modern social advertising. Or as the brand puts it: KLM is „committing little acts of kindness because we wanted to discover how happiness spreads“.

Nothing bad about it in my eyes. I like the idea in some way…

Nevertheless, my question is: Is this modern social advertising approach going to far? Is it addressing too much the human characteristics of personality and individuality? Or is it just the modern way of personalized advertising? Some kind of the future of Social CRM?

Know what?! Let’s discuss it! Watch it and give us thoughts….

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