Social Influence Marketing 101 – How to Succeed without Celebrity Endorsement

Posted by Taylor Haney on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Continuing on with our social media theme this month we have a guest post from Lyle Stevens, co-founder and CEO at Mavrck. Lyle discusses how to leverage various types of social influence. 

Lyle StevensLyle Stevens, co-founder and CEO, Mavrck, an influence marketing platform that powers premier consumer brands to drive more sales on social. Lyle drives product operations for the company, delivering value to numerous Fortune 500 consumer brands. @thelylestevens

Marketers know they need to have a strong and valuable presence on social media – in fact, 70 percent of marketers will spend more on social media ads in 2015, according to a new report from Salesforce. But understanding the how’s, what’s, where’s and why’s is a task in itself. And, while social media is playing an increasingly important role for retailers and brands, sites like Facebook are making it more difficult for brands to ensure posts are seen. So how can the organizations make marketing on social media more attainable and successful?

For one, they must begin by understanding their options – using banner ads to target social users or whether word-of-mouth marketing is the right way to promote their products and services. I could provide you the reasons why banner ads on Facebook are not the best use of your money (do YOU purposely click on Facebook ads?) but instead, I will help you to understand a more holistic way to reach your customers – social influence marketing.

Social influence marketing is a science, yet it involves real humans – the best combination, in my opinion. So, where should we start? Well, it helps to understand the difference between influencers and followers. Sure, a brand might have an impressive Facebook page with millions of followers, but how many of those followers are actually reading the posts, engaging with the content and recommending the brand to their followers? I can assure you, not many.

It also helps to have an understanding of the different types of followers – that term can mean many things to many people, but essentially it can be broken down by the results of those “influencers:”

  • Kim Kardashian has 27.7M followers on Twitter as of January 2015, but what does a high fashion or energy drink brand get from one of her tweets? A big bill, sure, but also maybe thousands of favorites, retweets and replies – this drives awareness, not sales, for the brands.

  • Executives, journalists and professional bloggers provide a number of things to their readers and followers – credibility to a product, or perhaps prizes, but the action of the social share results in further sharing and lead-gen based on those prizes or out of respect – not because they want or were driven to purchase based on recommendations. 

  • Every day consumers might have a smaller audience but they are more likely to convert due to the personal connections they share with their followers on social. This typically results in many leads and generates actual sales. Brands can find these influencers from their fans and followers, app users, loyalty members and email subscribers. 

Once that decision is made, there are a few more to consider –

What are your goals and KPIs? Brand awareness, community-building, direct response and content generation are just a few that might drive you to consider social influence marketing, and then you have to determine what’s the most important KPIs within those goals – driving impressions, clicks, engagements or conversions.

What sort of content do you want to create? Challenges and benefits exist for all of these options: brand-generated, user-generated or a mix of both. The mix – this co-developed content – is typically the most successful, safe and feels less forced. Most often, the brand comes up with guidelines for the content and influencers create their own rendition.

What social network should you choose? The options seem to grow every day, but Facebook is currently the most versatile of all the social networks, and can be used for almost any influence marketing campaign.

How do you know what incentives to give? What do you want to provide your influencers to encourage them to engage with their networks? Cash, branded rewards, VIP experiences or just plain recognition from the brand – it really all depends on the influencer you choose and their preference…

Once you have these details ironed out, you are ready to begin. Make sure you engage and establish long-term and strategic relationships with your influencers – that is the point! This can happen through hashtags and interacting with influencers’ content. Best case scenario – you use this opportunity to create an influencer community that grows – both in quality and quantity of members. Good luck!

To learn more about these important questions and strategies, check out the e-book that Lyle’s company, Mavrck, created: