Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Influence Marketing Strategies - The do's and don'ts

An old concept is being re-invented by the modern on-line community. Influence marketing has arguably been around since the birth of society, when someone first had something to sell. We called it "Word of mouth". Today, social networks make word of mouth far more reaching, faster, and if you're smart about it, the most effective influence marketing strategy ever witnessed.

The key is to be smart about it. And that's the rub. How can you learn to be smart about a technique that has so little empirical data to draw from?

Influence marketing in today's on-line marketplace, is different for every SMB. There is no single solution to finding the influencers that benefit an organization, or the perfect means to interact with them. Marketing tools that include mass emailers, cookies, squeeze pages and data trackers have popped up over the last several years claiming to assist. Many an article has been written about how best to use social media to advance an organization's on-line marketing effort. But if there is one approach that has seen more success over others, it is relationship building.

Building relationships and allowing those relationships to grow through social networks is today's word of mouth. Today's influence marketing. For an organization, it is cost effective and has arguably the best ROI of any marketing expenditure.

The important thing for an organization to keep in mind when trying to build an on-line relationship, is engagement. It sounds simple, but for the most part the only visitor engagement organizations cultivate on-line, are comments within blog postings and email interaction. Rarely does an organization follow up on comments and emails are not open to community interaction.

Too often SMB owners think "Top Down" when they post to the web or communicate with their contacts. Simply deliver information with no invitation to engage, and that is an opportunity lost.

The on-line community likes to contribute when asked. And they really like to share what they personally contribute. Especially if they feel their contribution means something to someone.

So give them the opportunity to contribute. As an SMB you should allow them to engage with you. Ask their opinion on subjects. Ask questions. Conduct discussion. Do everything you would do with a face to face customer.

Those that contribute with you will become high value contacts. Your relationships will be strengthened, and they will become your front line influence marketers as they share within their social networks.

Understanding your best approach to an effective influence marketing strategy is something that takes a bit of time. You need to acquire your own empirical data, and develop your own best practices from there. Whatever tools you choose to use, just ensure you are thinking "Bottom Up". Think about what your community would like to discuss. What they would like to contribute to. And you'll begin growing an influence marketing community.  

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