‘Blogger Outreach’ or ‘Influencer program’ are two common terms that are buzzing these days amongst social media agencies and brand managers. Whatever is the objective – new product launch, store inauguration or sports association, every brand manager these days expects the campaign hashtag to trend, as (yes) it has been accepted in corporate environment as one of the key performance indicators (KPI) of a social media campaign. The code has been cracked by almost every social media agency, get in touch with few 10-15 active Twitter users (read ‘influencers’), and yes they should have certain thousand followers. Many a times these so called influencers have to be fed with predefined tweets (as they are so qualified that they cant write proper English!). What do these influencers get in return? Some cool gadgets to take home, lavish lunch/dinner at some five star hotel, free booze, an opportunity to meet some personalities and yes not to forget an opportunity to network (for future events!). The worst situation is when social media agencies / brand managers get in touch with one or two such influencers and ask them to bring along with them a couple more. This has led to a cartel of such influencers in every metro city of the country. These guys could be found tweeting about chips tonight, mobile phones tomorrow and an automobile day after. A serious question that brand managers need to ask themselves is do they really think these kind of influencers would do any justice to the brand?
If you are wondering why I am sarcastic over this existing scheme of things then here are three reasons: 1) These Twiteratti with large follower base have no brand / product category loyalty, 2) They might be promoting one product everyday and in worst case you won’t be surprised to find them promoting your competitor’s products tomorrow, 3) They are flawed influencers in the market & there are high chances your end customers might get misguided by them.
So, what is the solution? Brands should look forward to identify, nurture relationship and then leverage brand advocates. No doubt, it’s a long term process, but this would be a worthwhile effort. As exhibited below, it would be lethal for brands to assume that influencers with huge follower base are super advocates of their brands. A true influencer should be expert / well-verse with the product category, have sound understanding in the field, should be conversing about it regularly on his/her Twitter, should be creating emotional connect with his/her followers and hence earn loyal followers.
I as a brand manager would any day prefer to work on this mode, build my own group of brand advocates over the period of time and leverage them with reference to various situations. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.