Bob is a well respected executive at a Fortune 1000 company. He lives on Tumblr and has the 100,000+ followers to prove it.
Enter Software Vendor X. They notice Bob's activity on social media channels and contact him to offer a preview of their software. Bob tests the software, follows up with a few questions and then writes a post about the great new software he's tested.
That, in a nutshell, is influencer marketing. And it’s a growing marketing platform.
TapInfluence Launches Influencer MarketPlace
TapInfluence dove into the market today with its turnkey influencer marketing software solution that it says enables brands and influencers to collaborate with one another to generate authentic content. The software gives brands access to audience demographics and the ability to track the actual dollar value of each piece of distributed content.
TapInfluence also announced today it closed a US$ 5 million second round of funding led by existing investor, Grotech Ventures, and new investor, Access Venture Partners. The latest round of funding will be used to boost the company’s hiring of engineering, marketing and customer success staff throughout the United States.
Holly Hamann, CMO and co-founder of TapInfluence, told CMSWire in an interview this week that bloggers and sponsored content are a “very accepted part of the digital ecosystem.”
“Why should people care about influencer marketing?” she asked. “Consumers more and more are wanting content that reflects the stories of other people just like them. … They tend to have more of an authentic voice and tend to do more and more stories that are useful to them. They are telling stories in a voice that reflects consumers.”
Automated Search for Influencers
TapInfluence’s platform automates the process of finding relevant digital influencers (the ones with key audiences on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social platforms).
It is a cloud-based software that provides an automated workflow system that enables brands and agencies to co-create content with influencers, distribute that content across social platforms and brand sites and access detailed analytics to measure the actual monetary value and ROI of that content.
Influencers authenticate their profile information with Google Analytics and other social accounts.
New features also include the real-time tracking of a metric called Total Media Value, the cumulative dollar value of every view and share of a piece of content.
Numbers Support Influencer Growth
One study confirms web users are looking to peers more than brands and ads. A Zuberance survey of consumers’ online behavior found that 90 percent trust a recommendation from the people they know while just 24 percent trust online ads.
Further, influencer marketing campaigns drive 16 times more engagement than paid or owned media, according to a recent study from SocialChorus.
“In the next two years, savvy marketers will demand social measurement tools that demonstrate how their social programs are creating marketing and business success," Nate Elliott, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, Inc., said in his August 2013 report: "The Four Social Marketing Tools You Need." “Those tools are likely to come from vendors with expertise in tying marketing spend directly to business outcomes.”
However, this doesn’t mean content marketing is gone, according to some analysts who believe brands can still deliver consistent messaging and customer experiences across all channels through this platform.
Got (Chocolate) Milk?
Forbes last month highlighted some great examples of organizations that proved successful in influencer marketing campaigns, including Weber Shandwick’s “Got Chocolate Milk.”
The aim? Turn the kids’ drink into a performance-enhancing one for adults. So they went after a sea of influencers: athletes, sports nutritionists, sports and fitness bloggers, researchers, etc. Chocolate milk would be a great way to wash down a good workout, they attempted to say.
They got Hines Ward, professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and recruited other advocates on the benefits of chocolate milk on recovery.
“One of the reasons why influencer marketing is a bit misunderstood, is that measurement hasn’t really caught up and it doesn’t have a budget line-item,” Chris Perry, Global Head of Digital at Weber Shandwick, told Forbes. “So it lives in a grey space. But it’s cases like this where once you see the proof you’ll find the money.”
Title image courtesy of higyou (Shutterstock)