The influencers of today are the opinion leaders of yesterday (Lazarfeld en Katz model – 1995). In the time of social media, the concept has gone upmarket. Brands today have every opportunity to identify their ambassadors and critics in real time. The aim is to take advantage of the brand ambassadors to positively enhance the brand's strengths. The concept of the influencers works in conjunction with the various goals that the brand has to sell its products or services. Today, influencers are identifiable and traceable. By integrating certain influencers in the marketing strategy, different communities can be associated with the brand. The influencers play two roles based on their characteristics. They bring in a large audience, or they play a convincing role. The two roles are not contradictory as long as they stuck to the strategy of the brand and contribute to the brand's recognition and credibility.
This works well as long as the perception of the brand remains positive. It becomes more complex when somebody decides to criticize the brand and the brand undergoes a bad buzz. Today, each consumer can be a potential media, the same way that every consumer can be a potential influencer, given he can post his opinions on social media.
The virality of information requires that brands use tools that enables them to anticipate. How is information shared? Through which media channels? At what speed? In what proportion? A two-fold brand strategy needs to be implemented in order to manage it efficiently :
Collect ambassadors in a community around the brand:
- Identify influencers
- Form a community
- Keep the influencers and communities around a project / concept.
- Engage the conversation to unite the community.
- Increase the number of members of the community around the brand
- Provide the community a return on their investments according to their involvement
Master how information around your brand is spread :
- Supervise correspondence between brand ambassadors and the community.
- Check the semantic distortion that a message undergoes between the different media channels and the audience.
- Monitor the way the competition deals with issues linked to your brand and business industry.