It’s no secret that the nature of influence has shifted drastically in the past five years. The rise of social media and content marketing coupled with shifts in the industry analyst and media landscape have changed the speed at which news travels, in some cases for the good, and in others, not so much.
These shifts, have made on thing abundantly clear. Gone are the days where single point engagement programs are sufficient. Influence is networked, and with the avalanche of content pouring out of marketers, it’s also at a premium. In order to fully protect and build corporate reputation, companies need to approach working with influencers holistically.
The Upside and Challenge:
Having a content marketing, analyst relations or public relations program is a benefit. Any one of these programs offers thought leadership, content and relationships that are powerful. The devil is in the details. In many instances these programs are only loosely connected. Measurement is often fractured, or thought of in different ways, hits vs. relationships, clicks vs. actions and outcomes.
So how then does one connect the dots between programs and rise above the tidal wave of information washing over target customers? Simple—flip the funnel. Start with the customer and work backward.
Old Way, Message First: Push to customer and influencers at the same time.
- Make the Comms push…Engage reporters, blast news on social channels
- Push marketing campaign via email, social etc.
- Brief analysts and other influencers
New Way, Relationship First: Engage influencers who engage customers.
- Identify and court the influencers who are “in the room with the customer” and arm them with the right insights, content and product.
- Ask them to be social—show them how.
- Connect media and analysts to the influencers who matter, then… make a Comms and Marketing push.
By flipping the engagement funnel there is now a compelling motivation for often separated teams to collaborate for shared success. Furthermore approaching engagement this way effectively increases size and scope of the defecto Comms and Marketing teams. Better still, the pitch has been cleverly slipped into an engagement model with which customers are already familiar. It also means the influencer at the center has “skin in the game” and is therefore more engaged and ideally benefitting from the interactions as well. Finally, it raises the likelihood that when the final PR & Comms push happens—there’s greater depth to the story and visibility for both the enabling influencers and target customers.
In short, you’ve created a Network of Influencers who are all actively engaged and accessing the most relevant content about your brand and product.
Photo credit, Jes on Flickr.