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.
Now, another report from Schneider Electric called „IoT 2020 Business Report“ delivers some new findings on how large organisations will leverage Internet of Things technologies as a serious business tool by 2020. Their study is based on feedback by 3,000 business leaders from twelve countries.
According to their global survey, 75% of respondents were optimistic about the opportunities IoT presents this year. Almost every second out of three (63%) companies use IoT to improve their customer experience and analyze customer behaviour in 2016. They hope to solve problems faster, achieve better customer service and customer satisfaction ranking.
Furthermore, cost savings in automation seem to be high on the agenda, above all building (63%) and industrial automation (62%). As results showed the improvements in automation technologies almost half of the companies (42%) say they want to implement IoT-enabled building automation systems within the next two years.
The key driver for IoT is mobile for two out of three companies (67%). Thus, they plan to implement IoT via mobile applications this year, and 32% even in the next six months. Again, cost savings of up to 59% is the major driver for IoT implementation.
The confidence is the value of knowledge gathering and sharing already exists inside most companies surveyed. 81% feel that the data and/or information generated by the IoT is being shared effectively throughout the organisation. Fears are lower than expected. Only 41% of respondents connect cybersecurity threats with IoT business challenges.
„We’re past the point of questioning whether IoT will deliver value. Businesses now need to make informed decisions to position themselves to maximise IoT’s value in their organisation.“ Dr. Prith Banerjee, Chief Technology Officer, Schneider Electric
However, Schneider Electric does not only publish numbers of their study but also provides the following predictions that business leaders might take into consideration.
1. The next wave of digital transformation.
IoT will bring operational technology (OT) and IT together while fueling a mobile and digitally enabled workforce: As more companies both expand and deepen their digitisation programmes enterprise-wide, IoT will increasingly take centre stage. This new wave of transformation will be enabled by more affordable “connected” sensors, embedded intelligence and control, faster and more ubiquitous communications networks, cloud infrastructure, and advanced data-analytics capabilities.
2. Insightful data.
IoT will translate previously untapped data into insights that enable enterprises to take the customer experience to the next level: When thinking about the value proposition of IoT, most businesses point to efficiency and cost savings as the key benefits. Yet access to data – including previously untapped data – and the ability to translate it into actionable insights, the hallmark of IoT, will deliver greater customer-service transformation and new opportunities to build brand/service loyalty and satisfaction.
3. Premise-to-cloud confidence.
The IoT will promote an open, interoperable and hybrid computing approach, and it will foster industry and government collaboration on global architecture standards that address cybersecurity concerns: While cloud-based IoT solutions will grow in popularity, no single computing architecture will monopolise their delivery. IoT instead will flourish across systems, both at the edge and on premise, as part of private cloud or public cloud offerings. Making IoT available across heterogeneous computing environments will help end users adopt IoT solutions in the way that best suits their security and mission-critical needs while also offering entities with legacy technology infrastructures a logical and manageable path forward, allowing them to transform over time.
4. Innovations that leapfrog existing infrastructure.
IoT will function as a source of innovation, business model disruption and economic growth for businesses, governments and emerging economies: Just as the Industrial Revolution, birth of the Internet and mobile revolution have driven advancement, innovation and prosperity, so will IoT. Businesses and cities alike will deliver new IoT-enabled services; new business models will emerge; and, in particular emerging economies will have a significant opportunity to quickly leverage IoT without the constraint of legacy infrastructure, essentially leapfrogging old ways. In fact, McKinsey forecasts that 40 percent of the worldwide market for IoT solutions will be generated by developing countries.
5. A better planet.
IoT solutions will be leveraged to address major societal and environmental issues: IoT will help countries and their economies respond to the biggest challenges facing our planet, including global warming, water scarcity and pollution. In fact, survey respondents identified improved resource utilisation as the number one benefit of IoT to society as a whole. In concert with the private sector, local and national governments will embrace IoT to accelerate and optimise current initiatives to curtail greenhouse gas emissions in accord with the breakthrough COP21 climate agreement, whereby 196 countries pledged to keep global warming under the threshold of two degrees celsius.
The Internet of Things has been seen as the main revolution from a technology perspective. The hype seems to be at an all-time high. Real business value is not only saving money though. Customer service improvements, better process optimization and smarter work and life opportunities will have big potential to bring IoT business value to enterprises in the future.
What is your experience on the value of IoT for your business?
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.
Mobile has become more and more important for sales in the last years. The 2015 Criteo eCommerce Industry Outlook states that mobile’s share of global online sales went up from 23% in the first half of 2014 to 30% in the second half, and will get up to 40% by the end of 2015.
A recent report by Flurry shows that personalization apps (including Android lock-screens to Emoji keyboards) are becoming the fastest growing apps in the mobile industry (332% increase in 2015). News and magazine apps are also growing fast (135% growth) as of a general shift in media consumption from television and PCs to smartphones. Obviously, productivity apps are booming as many people are using their mobile devices as their „primary computing device and their sole device to access email and other productivity apps“.
Now, if you think about a better app experience for your users, you may want to know how your mobile users come to your app, what they want to read and find there, and how they will convert. According to an Targeting Mantra infographic more than every second person (52%) find their apps via friends, family, and colleagues.
Although you might think your company website is one of the promotion places to drive awareness for your app, it becomes clear that just one in four (24%) will find your app there. Furthermore, also search engines are not the secret sauce. Only 27% of consumers will discover apps there.
However, end-to-end customer journey and conversion is still a challenge. While e-commerce apps achieve a 77% install-to-registration rate, the install-to-first-purchase rate is very low (2,1%). The main reason for uninstalling apps is „changes and hangs“ (71%). Still, A/B testing can resolve the loss and make people come back once or twice even if the app was uninstalled (79%).
Although consumers tend to not be interested in your notifications via email too much, notifications are still the engagement drivers and also the main reason why people download your app.
One of the latest reports around social media tells us that measuring ROI (60%) is still the most challenging aspect for marketers when facing all their social media efforts. This is the main message from a report by Simply Measured and TrustRadius.
The findings that are based on some survey data from almost 600 social media practitioners between February and March 2015 also show that other top challenges are tying social activities to business outcomes (50%), developing a social media strategy (48%), and securing enough internal resources (40%).
Although the main message is clear, there are some small variances between company sizes when separated int small businesses (1-50 employees), midsize companies (51-1,000 employees), and enterprises (more than 1,000 employees). While smaller companies struggle setting up and developing their own social media strategy, enterprises are trying to secure enough internal resources to master their social media efforts.
The integration of social media into the overall business is also a big way to go obviously. First of all is the alignment of social media goals with the overall business goals not fully connected. But even more challenging is the question whether all the efforts generate some business impact. Many marketers are working intensely with data and analytics to optimize their marketing strategies but the proof seems not yet been given.
Maybe this is all based on the missing tool strategy, which is also one of the major findings of the report (not surprisingly based on study makers). How to manage and measure social media activities, is often not a question of whether companies know the tools but still they are predominantly sourcing the monitoring out for example, and then wonder why data gets not interpreted properly. Also, some are not happy with their tool choice.
The findings are not surprising when the targets from all three company sizes is brand awareness. Still, companies should be able to better understand KPIs in the social selling process. It seems that companies and brands still have not yet understood the value of a friend, follower, LIKE, share or a comment. Furthermore, they still do not have the opportunity to link their data findings and their social media engagement back to some CRM database in order to leverage data sets around their customers. Furthermore, the missing social sales strategy combined with a clear lead processing and management is essential, and most companies do not have an answer here. Obviously, a lot of support in the social media set-up is still appreciated.
Not? Then tell us what you think…
A recent study 2015 Content Marketing Survey by content marketing agency Castleford states that the amount of marketers committed to content marketing is increasing. According to their results 65% (compared to 48% one year ago) of marketers want to boost their content marketing next financial year. Their plans is to invest more in time and resources.
Even more, 97% of participants of the survey said they will increase or retain their current level of investment. And the respondents also face the support of their C-level executives. Of the responding marketers 76% replied their C-level executives viewed content marketing „quite positively“ or „very positively“.
Obviously, there are also some challenges involved in content marketing creation wit time (45%) and budget (29%) being the biggest problem. Just, 3% that mentioned their C-level buy-in is their biggest challenge to content marketing will be probably persuaded over time, we think.
In terms of content marketing tactics the study shows that social media (81%) is still the favorite online marketing tactics in this field. However, the biggest growth opportunity shows video marketing and paid promotion of content for the next year. 61% are already using video marketing, (increase of 13% compared to last year). This is probably also driven by the main players Facebook and Google.
The variety of content marketing is also growing though. Almost every second marketer said that they use five or more different online marketing channels (45%).
Although Castleford director Rob Cleeve is confident with the development of content marketing, he also makes clear that marketers need to deliver results with it as well: „In my experience, content marketing is claiming an increasingly large share of overall marketing budgets, which is going to mean more pressure to show how it’s benefiting the bottom line.“
Content marketing definitely has changed the advertising industry drastically. However, the main challenges involved are the appropriate use of data with content to drive the right story in the right context to the right user at the right time. Here we see massive problems for many marketers still in our work with customers. Post-it recently explained it nicely in a video that leverages their banner and ask many question in terms of how retargeting actually kills good content marketing in terms in the example of banner ads.
The infographic of the study carries all relevant results of the Castleford study.
Instagram is the rockstar kid on the social media street these days… at least among the younger generations GenY and GenZ as far as we can argue from our latest advice and studies we are seeing all over the world. And when users have shared over 30 billion photos on one platform that tells a trend.
Now, many marketers wonder wether they should invest in Instagram to create new content, how often they shall share something, and in which way to present their brand to their target group. Salesforce offers some interesting advice with an infographic called „Say cheese!“.
Salesforce thinks that posting quality photos on a regular basis is one of the key tactics.
Regular? Well, find the „balance between over-saturation and falling to the wayside“. Understood? No? Maybe try not to put yourself in the focus of your brand and company name in pictures all the time.
Quality? Whatever that means as it stays in some way undefined. Maybe they mean types of photos more than quality of photos. Their advice is to use previews of upcoming products or events, and employees.
Style? „Write clear and engaging descriptions that reflect and enforce your brand’s message“. However, the question remains what engaging descriptions are. The answer we think would be to include questions in descriptions: Ask, ask, ask.
Our main advice would be to reach out to those Instagram users that are sharing content that engages already others that might be in your brand customer range. And somehow the secret sauce is: Re-post, re-share and comment. Don’t always think about many own accounts on Instagram. Just make sure „you don’t look like a robot.“
Some years ago and in many seminars, we make clear that the 3Rs of social consumers will revolutionize the sales world: ratings, reviews and recommendations. However, the question arises what make people recommend brands and services? What is their intrinsic motivation or human driver that makes them push out more positive comments around a brand.
A recent infographic by Social Media Link pulled together the most important findings of a study that surveyed 24.000 social media consumers. Still, the best customer experience that leverages recommendations is „a positive experience with the brand“ (93%) and „receiving a free product or sample“ (79%). On the other hand, a poor customer experiences motivates sharing, too. 71% stated „a negative experience with a brand“ makes them write a review as well.
The survey respondents also mentioned that they are more likely to trust a product recommendation on Facebook than any other social network (71%), followed by Instagram with only 38%.
Not surprisingly, Facebook and retailer websites ist he place to discover new brands and services (53%). However, for purchasing the retailer becomes more important and after purchasing a product people use predominantly Facebook to share their buy (54%) – again Instagram comes in second place.
Now, when you think you just need to give a free product to someone, it makes them write a review or recommendation, you might be wrong. Although, 88% trust friends’ and family members’ reviews when these write about their give free product in exchange, the bloggers only come in at 78%. BUT: Is payment included in exchange for the review, trust-level goes down – especially at bloggers to 48%. Still, the best way ist o have apersonal story which is authentic, not animated and personal.
The guys at BuzzStream and Fractl conducted some research, asking more than 900 people on why they unfollow brands on social networks. With their And the infographic The Unfollow Algorithm they share their findings with us.
First of all, the big winner seems to be Linkedin. Almost only half of all companies or brands (49%) need to fear that they get unfollowed by their users. More problematic seems to be Facebook: 25% of the respondents said that they unfollowed a brand’s official social media page in the last month. And, also Twitter is losing out: 12% of Twitter users stated they unfollowed a brand in the last few days.
So what are the main reasons for the „unfollow algorithm“? Well, the main reasons is that content of brands becomes repetitive and boring – 21% made clear they will unfollow a brand then. The frequency of posting is also ritical for users. If a brand posts too frequently (over 6 times per day) people will unfollow the brand page.
And what do people want? Almost every one in four (22%) claimed that „images“ is the most preferred content type posted by brands.
What is your opinion, and why would you unfollow a brand on a social network?
A recent report from CallidusCloud states that B2B salespeople and marketers are in principle aligned when it comes to arguing about the value of their business. However, some small differences can be seen when it comes to comparing the quality and quantity of leads.
More than half of the responding marketers (54%) find sales and marketing are somewhat aligned in their companies. The salespeople see the alignment even a bit higher with about 58%. In terms of bring fully aligned just 17% of marketers and 14% of salespeople agreed that they are heading 100% towards the same direction.
The salespeople are less satisfied with marketing compared to marketing with sales. From the marketers 42% confirm to be either satisfied or very satisfied with their sales counterparts. However, just 35% of salespeople are satisfied or very satisfied with marketing.
Furthermore, lead data sharing is stil a challenge according to the report. Just 37% of all responding participants stated that their lead data is fully shared between their organization’s marketing and sales teams. It shows that data is still siloed in the departments, 16% of salespeople and 12% of marketing team members find that.
The report results are a bit surprising bearing in mind all the meeting I have attended between marketing and sales teams. Very often did sales teams blame their marketing departments not to generate the appropriate quality of leads, and marketing teams wonder why salespeople don’t engage deeper in their marketing planning. Especially, when it comes to event planning and social selling and the alignment of sales and marketing content. Would be good to get some more thoughts from our readers. Feel free to share and comment.