Congratulations to Azeem Azhar, someone I’ve always liked, who just before Christmas sold his UK-based firm, PeerIndex, to Brandwatch. PeerIndex was fleetingly a competitor to Klout, at the time Klout was claiming to be ‘the standard for influence’. But I always had a lot more respect for PeerIndex, mostly because of Azeem himself, who I first met fifteen years ago. With PeerIndex he first created clever technology without an obvious commercial use, which he then repurposed to enter the market that Klout had forged – that of ‘online influence metrics’. Much as I never bought into the concept, or its relevance to buyers, I could always respect him as an innovator. Though he’s moved to Brandwatch for the next few years, I’m sure it’s not the last company he’ll create. Congratulations once more.
In 2014 LinkedIn featured 514 recruitment posts for ‘Influencer Marketing’ or ‘Influencer Relations’ positions. That’s up from 289 the previous year. 206 of the 514 were from marketing agencies looking to fill roles within their agency, leaving 308 ‘in-house’ positions. We then looked at what criteria were most commonly cited as being requirements for the position. The three leading criteria, in order, were: Experience of social media outreach & engagement, Proven ability to apply metrics to activity, and Ability to integrate influencer outreach into broader marketing goals.
No wonder Influencer Marketing has gone so off-track. The LinkedIn data proves that those recruiting the positions are now seeing it as social media-based and those fulfilling the roles are themselves wishing to focus on social.
I’m wondering where the ‘understanding of the customer and what influences them’ comes in to play – if at all. I don’t see it in the ‘social media engagement’ because I’m pretty sure that’s all about the level of retweets / comments and shares. And I don’t see it in the ‘integrate outreach into broader marketing goals’ because that’s likely about the number of eyeballs reached and turning outreach into email addresses and Facebook profiles.
So as the incoming generation of influencer marketers bring with them their interest and focus on social media metrics, I think we’ll just have to look elsewhere for a greater understanding of the customer and their buying behavior.
Time for a step-change in what we’re doing.
Shocking to see unscrupulous ‘pay for play’ bloggers now synonymous with Influencer Marketing. It wont surprise anyone to see this kind of behavior going on but it’s a million miles from my original vision for the phrase. Further proof the topic desperately needs rescuing.
Love it. Just when I was fearing our company seemed to have a different understanding of ‘influencers’ to almost everyone else I see this strapline from a UK firm purporting to specialise in ‘influencer marketing’.
“The UK’s Largest Influencer Marketing Agency. We build creative social marketing campaigns for brands and then distribute them to 60 million people in one click!”
Huh! 60 million people. All influential obviously. Every one of them well targeted no doubt.
I guess they just didn’t want ‘spammers’ in their strapline.
The past few years have seen a number of trends on the world of Influencer Marketing. When I look back at these I can’t help noticing that none of these trends have been, in my opinion, good for better understanding who really influences an organisation’s prospects & customers. The largest trends have been short-term diversions and their shortcomings soon realised. The result is they’ve just confused the subject matter, and left the understanding of the subject in no better a place than it was five years ago. I’ve resolved to unearth some more positive trends in future posts. No point complaining.
In 2011 we saw the rise (and later fall) of the supposed ‘online influence platforms’. In 2012 there was the wide-scale transition of Influencer Marketing programs from being managed in-house (where marketing depts. didn’t know what to do with them) to being contracted out to PR and ad agencies (who didn’t care that they didn’t know because they now had a new revenue stream). 2013 saw the ‘pay for play’ blogger / broker networks make a concerted attempt to redefine ‘influencers’ as bloggers and tweeters who’d willingly endorse products and companies for payment. 2014 is actually harder to identify one over-riding trend but I think it’s been the finessing of which social media metrics are most relevant to ‘influence’. I’ve seen no end of graphics illustrating ‘relevance’, ‘appropriateness’, ‘authenticity’, etc.
What each of these have in common is that they’re all marketing-centric, and increasingly generated by the marketing agencies themselves. I’m seeing surprisingly few vendors and brands driving any more productive trends. Why is this?