Elevate the Influence
Two years ago, influencer marketing was all the rage. Companies large and small were looking to find digital stars who would help them shine a light on their product or service. Generally it worked and for very logical reasons. The best influencers were authentic, told a compelling story, provided valuable information, and garnered credibility through impressive numbers and celebrity status.
Today, a growing number of critics argue these "celebrities" are largely out for themselves - that they don't care about the consumers who are buying the products. Others doubt the impressive ROI claims associated with influencer marketing. For example, return on investment on average is 650%, representing a return of $6.50 for every $1 spent according to SproutSocial.com.
Even in light of this criticism, it's estimated that 84% of marketers plan to run influencer marketing programs within the next 12 months (eMarketer). Further, 59% of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets, believing that it's still the fastest way to acquire new customers (business2community.com). Bottomline, influencer marketers can have a dramatic effect on business outcomes.
Introducing Influencer Marketing for the Workplace
All this got me thinking. Why not turn the concept of influencer marketing into an internal strategy, as well?
What would happen if you could identify the key influencers in your company–working with them to "spread the word" about new initiatives, policy changes, or to reinforce company values?
According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family over advertising. The same appeal applies to company initiatives; employees are more heavily influenced by co-workers than by management.
When I spoke to several colleagues about this concept at a recent industry conference, it generated genuine interest. There were two reactions: "This is a great idea, it could be a breakthrough in corporate communications." And, "Love it, but how do we do it?"
Finding your internal influencers
Social tools for workplace connectivity have become quite popular. The best ones help connect employees facilitate the exchange of ideas, celebrate achievements, and collaborate on projects. Our company, Augeo, has a product called SocialStack that does all that and more.
One of the key elements of SocialStack is "active listening", which enables leaders to monitor discussions in real time. Think of it as a modern way to join the digital breakroom discussion. Through critical observation, your leadership can begin to identify those individuals within the company who seem to have a "following". These "corporate social influencers" already play an important role in your company--you simply have not yet begun to leverage their influence.
While SocialStack is just being released nationally, already we have learned that there are different kinds of influencers in most companies who play separate but complementary roles.
Each type of influencer should play a role in your "internal influencer marketing program". Once identified, it is very important to make sure these influencers are recognized for their importance and, in some cases, rewarded for the effect they have on the company. Often times they are not managers but instead come from the rank and file.
A word of caution when developing an internal influencer marketing program. The same pitfalls for consumer influencer programs can happen internally. Be on guard for lack of authenticity or trying to overly influence the independent voice of the employee influencer. If you provide an incentive, start modestly, possibly using social recognition versus a monetary reward.
One final note. In advertising there is a test we use to determine if an ad meets required ethical standards before it is broadcast. It was developed by two marketing researchers, Sherry Baker and David Martinson, attempting to set a standard for publication. It's called the TARES Test and it's something you might use to guide your employee influencer program.
For further information on SocialStack employee engagement technology or developing an internal employee influencer marketing program contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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