This is a series of 8 articles that talk about the Future of Marketing. If you have not read the first article start here.
7) Friends vs. foes; Influencers (7 of 8 articles)
Don’t just market products, inspire movements. INSPIRE MOVEMENTS. Why? Because of this number, 10%. First and foremost, if you have a superior product than the alternative product out there, in Ayn Rand’s lingo, it's your moral imperative for the world to know about it and to benefit from it. If more than 10% of the potential users identify it as the best product, it's on its way to becoming the status quo, the go-to product. Surpassing 10% of market share is an inflection point in your marketing, affecting your scalability, which is a fancy way of saying, that while sales volumes increase you maintain or improve profitability. So where did we get this famous number? From Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that stated "When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority, once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame." (Source)
Knowing that 10% of the population or a particular network can inspire a movement, the question is, will "influencers" become more relevant in the marketing of the future? If so, who are the players that can influence that 10 % and what has changed?
a) Users of the future
Let's start by analyzing the users, that means all of us. What has changed for us? In a nutshell, there is a lot more information available, more options and it's easier to reach people, therefore more interruptions than ever before. What's more, the constant influx of information is accelerating; giving us a sense of having less time. As a response to this overwhelming array of options, we are relying more on influencers, advisors or friends to recommend us products and services. Why? In simple terms, because we are smart and we want to leverage our time by relying on the advice of someone we trust, has done the research or has already tried the product.
b) Companies/ Advertisers of the Future
On the corporate side, what's changed? In layman terms, the democratization of content distribution. Today, it's a lot easier to reach people. Companies have recognized the continual depletion of two of the most scarce resources, people's attention, and trust. Knowing this, where are the opportunities for businesses? With the help of technology, we can pinpoint more accurately which audience we want to reach and cross reference what influencer's are already reaching them. But why is this different from before? Before we might have hired a well-known celebrity like Shakira to help us reach a particular audience; but if you are just interested in promoting a local gym in South Florida, using Shakira is an overkill and is probably not the most effective influencer. Now with the help of technology, we can determine that a 21-year old that goes to the University of Miami (may not have star status) but is plausibly more influential in her community, her opinions are more authentic, more relevant, and cheaper than Shakira's. Why? because she probably has more similar pain points to the audience than Shakira, therefore has more accurate recommendations/solutions in general and ideally, she actually uses the gym. By using 21-year all "nobody," you could presumably create a more cost effective campaign. Having the ability to map out novice influencers will change the game. We can locate niche influencers for niche markets.
c) Influencers of the future
What's different this time? In principle no middle man, thousands of content distribution channels and free platforms that make it easy to share content. Information is subject to spread more because of the content itself than the distribution channel. With no middle man, there are no gatekeepers thus no rules. With a considerable community and earned trust, you can become an influencer. What has not changed and is more relevant today is that your guiding principle as an Influencer must be to put your followers best interests in front of your own, including any company you collaborate. Second, be cognizant of context and extremely mindful of the information you divulge, especially if your following sees you as a credible source for making decisions.
Lastly, this is where most of the innovation of the future should come from, is for influencers to co-create with brands they believe in. This is a Win/Win, you do not violate your communities trust, by creating a product with the company, for the benefit of your followers. On the company's side, this is incredible, because you have an outsource product developer who is more attuned with the potential target audience and concurrently this co-creator is its chief promoter. This is not something new, Nike has done this very successfully with Michael Jordan. What I'm suggesting is that this should increase in the future, therefore should be a priority when planning an influencer marketing strategy.
Did you like this article? The next article in this series explains why Contextual Marketing will be more relevant in the future. Click here to continue reading.