Influencer Marketing – A Double Edged Sword – Amaresh Godbole

Influencer marketing is now one of the key trends defining the digital marketing landscape alongside mobile and content marketing. Simply put, traditional ‘word of mouth’ has been galvanised with the emergence of social influencers.

It’s all about identifying and engaging with the people who create the conversations that can impact brands, products or services. Since they are individuals who are passionate about their topics, they not only pay attention to what’s next, they define the trends, and hence can be a double edged sword if not handled right.

It all starts with the communication objective of course. And based on that we need to identify the kind of influencers we need to reach out to, and the nature of the activity. ‘Influencers’ are often mistaken as a homogenous set, whereas nothing could be further away from the reality. Picking the right set of influencers defines the campaign’s success

The marketing and communication objectives will help define which of these you need to leverage. For instance, if the objective is salience for a new product, a combination of social influencers and celebrities would help gain traction. Our Tata Nano social bidding war campaign using social influencers resulted in an earned media value worth15% of the annual digital budget. In these cases, it also helps to partner with blogger community platforms and conduct on ground events with digital amplification. And if media events with journalists can be seamlessly worked into this mix, it becomes a very potent combination indeed as we found out during the launch of Zest from Tata Motors.

If the aim is to build credibility or manage perceptions, then category experts and brand advocates are your best bet. For instance, for brands such as Johnson’s Baby and Clean & Clear, we have created ongoing programs of live chats on social media with category experts such as Paediatricians and Dermatologists. The Tata Safari owners community – SOUL (Safari Owners United League) invites them to special owners only events and experiences, and encourages community experiences and social sharing.

If we are looking to build exclusivity and badge value, then inviting select opinion leaders amongst social influencers for an exclusive experience will go a long way in creating desire amongst their followers. For Budweiser, we created momentum for the Bud Made Stage events, and drove opinion leaders to the event purely through influencer marketing with a ‘Please don’t tell’ RSVP mechanic (only ‘those in the know’ inviting others).