I’ve been harboring this view in recent months about the kind of B2B Influencer Programs that are really going on right now. Because it’s significantly changed in the past nine months. That view was crystalized when I was listening a few days back to audience feedback from a presentation I’d given. And it’s not something I’d thought six months ago.
1. The vast majority of so-called Influencer Programs – aren’t. They’re exactly the same programs – to the same people – that have traditionally been going on, i.e. PR & AR (with the addition of bloggers) but they’re now just being termed Influencer Outreach. They’re the obvious names – what we call the low-hanging fruit. Nothing wrong with them – they can be very important – but they demonstrate the shallowest understanding of the term ‘influencer’.
2. Until approx. a year ago organisations were looking to conduct their Influencer Outreach in-house. Today those programs are almost entirely being handled by their traditional marketing agencies. The in-house managers aren’t hands-on enough to be gaining any expertise in the subject but they can now tick the box saying their company is reaching out to Influencers. “Can we incorporate Influencers into our database?” is a very easy question for an agency to answer. And none are declining the opportunity.
3. It’s this agency-led approach which is largely behind the rise of ‘social influence‘. Because what in effect it’s doing is creating yet another mass database to which the agencies can address. More names to target equals more work to be done equals greater justification for increasing budgets. But these are largely not influencers – they’re noisemakers. And there’s no-one in a position to correct them.
4. And it’s this adoption by the marketing agencies of the Influencer Marketing remit – with the increased focus on social database trawling – that has led to the subsequent decreased focus on real-world sales influencers. Understanding the sales process has never been a strength for marketing agencies: creating mass-marketing campaigns has been. And that’s what they’re now doing with their clients’ Influencer Programs.
What many marketing depts. need are better, and more insightful, leadership.