Social Influencers

5 Sep

Ford Fiesta campaign

The Fiesta campaign was a success in large part due to its social approach that blended real life activities with Internet habits.

Many businesses use social media to advertise and promote their brand online. The average social media campaign may consist of setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account. However, what most businesses fail to do is to build relationships with powerful social media influencers. The whole point of social media is to reach out to a large number of people and have your campaign go viral.

An influencer is an individual that has a lot of influence in their industry. In the automotive niche we have the big corporate influencers such as Edmunds. Then we have the established blogs with a massive following such as Car Throttle. Owners of popular blogs generally also have large followings on their Facebook and Twitter accounts which means they have the ability to send out your message to thousands of people.

Bloggers with a large readership have the ability to affect trends and purchase decisions. Ford Motor reached out to bloggers by providing selected individuals with a new Ford Fiesta for six months. In return the individuals had to accomplish specific missions and talk about their experience on their blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Ford realized that it is a lot more “authentic” to have “real people” discuss their personal experience with the Fiesta on social media channels instead of doing it themselves. With social media, potential buyers are more in tuned to consumer reviews from real people than ever before. Consumers want to hear about real experiences from people just like themselves. While it is important to be able to have your message spread far and wide to the right people it’s also equally if not more important to influence others offline. Generally people who are extremely influential offline fly under the radar online and are able to get things done this way. Online influencers with large followings are not the offline influencers and most of the time these people are not even online. Their offline networks are created so that they don’t need to be online. Some industries don’t necessarily need to be networking online. When these offline influencers are online their follower numbers tend to be smaller and more concentrated. To further amplify the campaign by going offline, Ford also offered random people across the country the opportunity to test drive the Fiesta, intercepting consumers at various points – major cities, at sporting events, etc. – and allowing them to touch, feel, drive and experience the new Fiesta for themselves. According to Ford’s research, 60% of the public were aware of the Fiesta brand even before the launch of vehicle, a metric that would have cost $50 million in traditional media spend to achieve.

With social media influencing 90 percent of all purchases, it’s a potential gold-mine for marketers. But how can marketers harness the social influence of others to increase brand advocacy, generate cost effective impressions and increase audience reach? One effective tactic is to create campaigns that will appeal to their target audiences led by those they consider influential.

In social media, we look to cues like number of followers and Klout scores for badges of social proof. This influences who we follow because ultimately, people will do what they see others doing. The more followers someone has, the more likely one is to believe that she/he is worth following. It’s in the content that people share builds their social influence, and then their social proof.

@mayhemstudios. Calvin is an exemplary social influencer – a graphic designer from Los Angeles who tweets 200 times a day, sharing great content with his 77,789 followers on Twitter. He has grown this following not because he is famous, but because he thoughtfully shares content that helps his audience. With a Klout score of 80, Calvin has become so influential that brands like American Express, Walt Disney and Subway have approached him in hopes that he will mention them. In fact, Audi asked Calvin to take their new A8 on a week-long test drive, where Calvin tweeted about the car’s performance and his appreciation to Audi for the experience. The House of Blues invited Calvin to a celebrity event in Las Vegas, and VH1 invited him plus seven of his friends to the VH1 awards to “hobnob with the stars.” Calvin can give brands the boost in social awareness and interest they are seeking. One effective influencer tactic to consider is giving followers exclusive content and offers. The perks make your influencer feel special and, although it may not be specifically requested, they blog, tweet and share their genuine experiences. Ultimately, this influences others and drives in-store actions and purchases.

Examples:

  1. Ford gave 100 social media influencers a European model of the car and asked the new owners to record taking the car on “missions.” The 6.5 million views from these video missions resulted in the sale of some 10,000 cars in the first six days. Now, Ford is teaming up with the PeerPerks program from PeerIndex to take on its largest social influencer campaign ever. The company will offer 1,000 qualified individuals a special gift – Ford’s new ‘baby carrier,’ the Ford B-Max, launching summer 2012.
  2. Chevrolet loaned Volts to 20 consumers in the Chicago-area, and later loaned the Sonic to 130 influencers. Recently, Chevrolet launched a new campaign giving a select number of Klout influencers (with scores over 50) a chance to borrow 2012 Volts for three-day joy rides in hopes of generating sales. The April 2012 campaign launched in Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and is slated to head to Portland.
  3. Klout also collaborated with Virgin Airlines to offer top Twitter influencers one free, round-trip flight from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Toronto. Mark Schaefer actually blogged about this event on his site, reporting that Virgin Airlines generated 4,600 tweets, 7.4 million impressions, and received coverage by top publications like CNN Money and L.A. Times.

Social media has disrupted the world of marketing, blurring boundaries and upsetting traditional advertising and media channels. Individuals who tweet or Facebook command audiences and are in fact one man marketing armies. These people should not be told to endorse a product or site. Instead, a project can be created—related to, but independent of, your brand—that they can get behind.

There are two things all of us have an increasingly short supply of: time and attention. So don’t just reduce the barriers for those you want to headline your campaign, also make it easy for your intended audience to participate. In order to get influencers to pay attention, create a project that has some type of noble purpose, NOT ask for endorsement but participation from influencers and then be creative.

I think the biggest factor in anyone’s real influence is the degree to which they can share passion and inspire trust.

References:

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2 Responses to “Social Influencers”

  1. Fort Worth Center (@FWCenter) September 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Vijay, two twitter accounts, one has 50,000 followers, two has 5,000 followers, if sales go up when two tweets, but not when one tweets…who is the influencer? More followers? More action?

    • psyclife September 6, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      According to me both are influencers irrespective of number of followers. The one with maximum number of followers will be able to reach more people compared to the other. More important is the audience that is targeted and specific action that is taken. Turnaround rate is more important than blindly targeting the mass.

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