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?
Social selling is a team sport
The sales team impacts all departments of an organization, including client success, product and IT. But arguably the place where sales – and social selling – has the greatest influence is on the marketing team. And vice versa.
According to Sirius Decisions, 58% of marketing and sales teams say they are seriously misaligned. Some of the repercussions of a sales-marketing duo with no alignment? Lost leads, bad content and blind decision-making.
Sales and marketing teams need to get on the same page to ensure efforts aren’t going to waste (and feelings aren’t getting hurt). To be successful, sales and marketing must focus on 3 key aspects of a strong social selling initiative:
A crucial aspect of social selling is the sales professional’s ability to provide valuable content – articles, white papers, videos, podcasts and more – to prospects in their network. Misaligned marketing departments can spend time and resources creating content for sales, but it is useless if the content doesn’t meet the needs of the prospect or if sales can’t even find it.
How do you fix it? By understanding the buyer’s journey, sales and marketing can together determine what types of content fit best for prospects at different levels of the funnel. Then, marketing can curate a database of content that is easily accessible and relevant for salespeople to use throughout their process.
Implementing a well-run social selling program provides the sales organization a predictive, guided approach to everyday sales. In an environment where nearly 60% of the B2B buying process is done by the prospect before they ever speak to sales, reps need guidance on how, when, and where to connect on social networks. Marketing and sales need to understand and agree on their buyer persona so marketing can provide the resources that will guide sales to success.
How do you fix it? For social selling to become part of a sales professional’s everyday process, it must be easy for them to identify the best way to engage with prospects online. Marketing and sales must collaborate to identify the ways in which their buyers navigate the buying process. This enables marketing to develop relevant campaigns and channels for sales to leverage in their social selling practices, resulting in the most important aspect of all…
Too often, misaligned sales and marketing teams hurt themselves and end up doing more work when they let good leads slip through the cracks. Whether it’s marketing campaigns missing the mark on the right buyer, or sales failing to follow up on solid marketing leads, it’s a lose-lose situation.
How do you fix it? First and foremost, clearly define what each team will commit to accomplishing in order to support each other. As the saying goes: Build the social selling process, and the leads will come. When marketing provides sales the resources and tools to become problem-solving thought leaders in their networks, everyone wins.
„Never leave Social media to marketing alone. Marketing spreads the brand and product messages. Sales plants conversations, seeds solutions and harvests on needs.“ (Martin Meyer-Gossner on Social Selling)
This is a guest blog post by PeopleLinx CEO Kevin O’Nell. PeopleLinx helps B2B enterprise sales teams activate socialselling with individualized guidance.
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.
Gambling is a competitive industry just like any other and as with other industries advertising campaigns can be the key to a site’s success. There are many different incentives used by those in this sector to entice in new players and make themselves stand out.
One of the most prolific deals that gambling sites extend to their public is a bonus, whether it’s totally free or comes with a deposit. These work particularly well as it is seen by many as an equivalent to free money to use however they please and works as an excellent incentive.
Another way that sites can get players in the door is by creating a theme that’s on trend. This could be anything from a movie to a character and online casino sites that will be opened in 2016 or those that already exist are using this to its full advantage. This tactic taps into an existing fan base and combines recreational gaming with a concept that players already know they enjoy. Branded slot games are a growing trend because of this, as players see a movie that they enjoy reincarnated and can’t wait to take it for a spin. This also helps the site seem more personable and friendly, especially if they use a mascot.
Being social with players gives another boost to the ranks of a casino. As we all know social media is an excellent way for brands to reach out and be seen by a wider audience. The use of incentives by online casinos also helps when using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as they can boost posts that offer the best deals.
Television advertisement is a medium that never grows old and many gambling sites now rely on creating an eye-catching advert. This can be a little trickier than advertising online however as there are governing bodies that must review these adverts.
The need to drive traffic to a site is felt by every business on the internet and these are just a few ways that gambling sites manage this flow. They still rely on basic advertising principles but they are tailored to the market.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become on of the most discussed topics in the digital landscape these days. Based on sensors, mechanisms, processes, the cloud and big data sets, companies as well as people try try to rethink how we can better use the Internet for our homes, our cities and the daily business.
We have collected the three most impressive pieces of content that came up lately to give you an overview of the potential and the challenges involved when using IoT.
1. IoT and legislation
A recent post by Cyberlex is discussing in details the approach of the European Union with their „Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation“ (AIOTI) and Digital Agenda for Europe on IoT against the American Federal Trade Commission with their Staff Report on the Internet of Things in order to deriver some logic for a Canadian IoT approach.
While the European guideline makes clear that the future regulations will lie on security, privacy, consumer protection, functioning competition and choice. The American discusses the issues of privacy, security and is trying to give guidance whether legislation is required to regulate the Internet of Things.
2. IoT and Social Media
Over at WT Vox a post is discussing the opportunities and the challenges that the combination of the IoT with social media generates. Although we might be seeing the power of commerce data to understand the mindset of the next customer, there might be more business impact on the image, machine and health data for our future lives when it comes to the value of IoT. However, they make clear that the all deciding question on the future of IoT will be how everybody is handling their „digital persona“ over the next years and whether we open up or step back from giving out personal data to people and companies we have got no idea what, how and why they derive data via smart health, smart home technology or smart city.
Gartner sees a more and more connected world and predicts there will more than 6.4 billion connected devices by the end of 2016. Cisco goes even further and forecasts that by 2020 even 37 billion connected devices will be in the world. McKinsey even estimates that IoT is expected to have an economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion per year by 2025 (representing up to 11% of the world’s economy).
3. IoT and Investments
The infographic that delivers data by Venture Scanner that we came across via the guys at Appcessories gives some good impression of how much investment goes into the IoT development and in which industry sector most most investments and innovations are produced.
In all of those posts it becomes clear that there is a demand for companies to enable and ensure processes that make people aware of how they use data and technology to understand the consumers development and movement. Furthermore, it is wanted to see a continuous progress in monitoring and improving peoples‘ privacy and security. And finally, the question is whether companies and regulation units need to give clearer guidance and legal advice on compliance and data collecting and processing laws in order not to loose the trust of customers and consumers.
Sorry millennials! Us, the Baby Boomers, we have suspected this for quite a while. While you might be reading this post on your smartphone, you are probably somewhere in a park, in a bar or a coffee shop, chatting up some of your fellows. Ever considered to stop reading this during the conversation, or better before you started talking?
In a recent study by Flashgap (which findings come close to a study from 2014), it becomes clear how obsessed millennilas are with social media and how much it is affecting their social lives. The study states that 87% of millennials admitted that they are distracted by their smartphones when they are going out.
Now, this might be some predjudice from males but females seem to be slightly more addicted. 76% of females replied they do check social media platforms 10 and more times when they are out of home. Their male counterparts are less active with just 54% answering accordingly.
Now, the question is why the millennials are so engaged in their social media lives? The answer ist hat more than half of all millennials (54%) fear to miss out on the latest news, when they are not checking social networks regularly.
The funny thing is that many millennials (74%) do post when drunk, but in the end regret it afterwards. Whether it is the drunk selfies, any kind of revelations of love to exes friends or any other sort of revealing messages that go along streams and messages. 71% of millennials regretted posting a picture on a social network after more than 3 drinks.
So, why is Flashgap promoting this study? They have got a new app that might become the answer to saving millennials from social media nightmares. Flashgap is a time-delayed photo-sharing app. With over 150,000 users, Flashgap could really become a solution. And guess what?! The app was inspired by the bachelor party film, ‘The Hangover’. Surprised?
According to some infographic from McKinsey&Company successful digital marketing can boost their marketing effectiveness by 15-25% if they use the following five components of marketing operations. So, if your company wants to beat the competition, you better follow the advice to implement these five important components.
Here is just some remarks from our consulting business to why those topics might be of relevance to your digital strategy…
1. Customer Insights
Many companies still have not yet implemented a real web analytics or a social media monitoring tool in order to understand the inner and outer impact of consumer demands and reactions.
2. Customer Experience
Market research and product marketing often pretends to know what needs to be build, produced or offered. However, reality shows that often consumer expectations and company opportunities lack the match. Often companies lack the alignment with sales and marketing.
3. KPIs and Measurement
Understanding what makes consumers, companies and decision makers purchase a product or service is aiming for predictive analysis and forecasting when focusing on ROI. Still, KPIs need to be realistic and often lacks the knowledge of what technology is capable of.
4. Marketing Technology Infrastructure
The real bottleneck of digital marketing these days. As of the big marketing technology landscape and a grown intern technology infrastructure, technology decisions are very often a shot in the dark.
5. Process & Governance
Generating real benefit from technology is depending on the right people who get the appropriate training und understanding for the tools‘ capabilities. And as people are often not used to those modern tools and how to use them, they want a (brand) governance (and compliance frameworks) which keeps them in their seats.
Fair enough, it is only a US-based insight among some 2,000 online and mobile shoppers in July 2015. However, the message could be taken to any other market I guess these days…
The main factor for consumers to make a purchase decision, is trust. This is the finding from Amazon which conducted a study with Pymnts.com in order to understand, where consumers start their buying journey, why consumers buy from one site and leave the other one without making any purchase. Furthermore, the study states that price or ease of delivery are not the main features driving purchase decisions.
The US consumer needs trust in a site (23%) so that they purchase from some retailer. Oterh features that came in th next places were tailored promotions or rewards (16%), a good experience in the past (14%) or products being available in an acceptable time frame (13%).
Interestingly enough, other tactics like good shipping considerations (11%), preferred method of payment (8%), ease of use (6%), a site that recognizes me (4%), being a preferred customer (3%), being able to check out as a guest (1%) and store billing and shipping info (1%) came in much later in the ranking.
„You need a strategy that is about more than being present,“ he said. „You need a strategy that is about being present where your customers are because if you are not, then you are not being customer centric. There’s no such thing as a relationship without trust.“ (Patrick Gauthier, VP, Amazon Payments)
So, where does the consumer journey start? The study also found that almost every second out of three respondents (64%) start by searching for a product on a marketplace, followed by their favourite brand websites (48%), search engines (40%) and social media (29%).
„The ultimate digital destinations are driven by trust – trust that the sites have what they want to buy, trust that they will be given a fair price, trust that their goods will be delivered to them in a time frame that is relevant.“ Karen Webster, CEO, MPD
Just check your own habits and experience. What would you say makes you buy something from an online shop? We look forward to your comments…
If you want to get an overview on Social Selling tools, you need to follow the industry very closely as this market has become quite dynamic. Furthermore, the value of each tool (CRM suites, monitoring solutions or engagement technologies) or platform (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) may vary. The question for many marketers is which tool does really give some value add to the business. Most marketers often tell us that they need some kind of an overview on which social selling tool they should use.
Now, the guys at Sales For Life have come up with some interesting approach that showcases all tools for the various sales stages: prospecting, qualifying, researching, nurturing, presenting, closing, and retention. Just click here to get to their interactive infographic.
For those of you who do not understand the value of Social Selling, we advice on some infographic based on a study by PeopleLinx. It shows the best platforms to use and states that 76% of sales reps consider LinkedIn as the most valuable social media network strongly before Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
What we also can see is from our projects is that not many companies offer an appropriate support and training on social selling. 11% of respondents stated their employers offer training on social selling. However, the benefits are striking. When reps get training on social selling, the adoption climbs from 28% to 74%.
Now, if that is not the right argument to start social selling today?!