Ogilvy Panel: Five Takeaways on Connecting Content Creators and Brands

Here at Ogilvy, we’ve noticed a prominent shift in the world of influencer marketing. The rise of mobile and short-form platforms over the past few years has paved the way for a new breed of influencer to take hold. The days of working with “bloggers” are over – influencers are now content creators in their own right. Skilled masters of their craft, these content creators are visually creative, artistically and entertainment-driven and are opportunistically expanding their careers.

Credit: Matt Whatley

Credit: Matt Whatley

Last night, Ogilvy Washington welcomed a panel of experts to discuss how influencers fit into this new school of content production – including Joy Jaynes of Mornings Like These, Milton B. Yates of Team Hennessy, Brian Landau of IZEA and Aaron Lichtig of Google. Read on for the biggest takeaways of the evening:

1-     Authenticity is the heart of anything you do. Milton said it best – “People see through the fake.” Consumers have a discerning eye and know when influencers don’t have passion for the brands they represent. While many influencers take the initiative not to work with brands that do not reflect their own values, brands also have a responsibility to vet influencers for overall fit in advance. Both sides stand to benefit in the long-term – influencers gain additional cred with their followers and brands won’t waste money on content that lacks authenticity and resonance.

2-     Influencers should be trusted. We get it – relinquishing brand control isn’t easy. But if you’ve done your research up-front to identify the right influencer for your campaign, you are moments away from compelling content being created about your brand. Content creators have made livings by building their following and know what makes their audience tick. Take a step back and let them work their magic… you won’t be disappointed.

3-     View influencers as your equals. When was the last time you sent an influencer your creative brief? Joy shared that she loves receiving briefs from brands she works with, as it ensures that she has direction and clarity of what is expected of her. Influencers are regularly co-creating content with brands and should be treated as a collaborative equal in the process.

4-     The rise of professionalism means Paid is here to stay. While we can’t speak for the entire realm of influencers, many we’ve spoken with state that paid opportunities take precedent over earned asks. Being an influencer is a full-time job and helps supports many families. Brian noted that influencer vendors like IZEA are there to help facilitate the paid aspect, but it still remains important to balance owned, paid and earned components of any campaign.

5-     Influencers can help build passion brands. While some brands have figured out how to inspire passion – many are still trying to crack that puzzle. Aaron believes that influencers may be part of the solution due to their ability to build relationships and tell stories.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in how content is created by online influencers?

Who is an influencer?

 

 

influencer featured

Influencer marketing is a relatively simple, but incredibly effective, form of marketing that focuses upon specific key individuals rather than the target market as a whole. But who is an influencer?

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing identifies those which have the most influence over potential buyers, and orientates marketing activity around these influencers.

The history of influencer marketing, as an identifiable marketing theory, can be traced back to a 1940 study entitled “The People’s Choice” by Lazerfeld & Katz. The study analysed political communication, and concluded that the majority of people are influenced by secondhand information and by opinion leaders. However, the notion that people are influenced by high profile opinion leaders can be evident throughout history, even as far back to Biblical times.

Who is an Influencer?

There are many faces of ‘influencers’:

  • Journalists,
  • Academics,
  • Industry analysts,
  • Professional advisors,
  • Celebrities, and
  • Individual brand advocates.

The editor of a traditional-media, national-newspaper is arguably as much an influencer as a celebrity, as is an academic or a highly viewed YouTuber like MacBarbie07 who wowed fans at our Social Media Matters event last year. Therefore, the definition of an influencer often needs to be clearly defined for each influencer marketing programme, in order to establish the marketing objectives and to focus which individuals, for example, fit into a PR media outreach remit and what constitutes a social influencer. This can differ for each brand and campaign.

We have come to understand that the line between social media and traditional media is blurring. Traditional-media national-newspapers are now available in print as well as online, and these online articles directly link to social channels (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). Similarly, the line between what constitutes ‘media outreach’ through a journalist versus ‘social media influencer outreach’ through a journalist, is an issue that can cause debate. Arguably a journalist fits into both categories, and so there are many facets of who constitutes an influencer which is creating crossovers.

So how do we solve this challenge? The fundamental difference between media outreach and influencer outreach lies in the approach to target and engage these individuals.

Approaches to target influencers for marketing objectives

Influencer marketing compromises 4 main activities, which have well been established as approaches for targeting these individuals:

1) Identifying influencers and ranking them in order of importance
2) Marketing to influencers – to increase brand awareness within the influencer community
3) Marketing through influencers – using influencers to increase brand awareness to target markets
4) Marketing with influencers – turning influencers into advocates.

beyonce pepsi

Successful influencer marketing continually evaluates against these four main activities. Furthermore, for brands to maintain and build awareness with influencers, there must be the understanding that this can be a slow and continual process in order to build relationships. Some influencers cannot be viewed through a project by project basis and approached in a cold-call influencer campaign experience. Instead, strategies must sometimes appreciate a longer timeline, and understand that a dedicated approach to fostering strong and sincere relationships with influencers can be a key to success.

Whilst the definition of what constitutes an influencer is dependent upon a marketing objective and the structural organisation in relation to the PR and communications department with regards to crossover, I like to use a definition for an ‘influencer’ which is a combination of Brown & Hayes (2008) and from The Word of Mouth Marketing Association Handbook:

An influencer is: “A third party who significantly shapes the customer’s purchasing decision” (Brown & Hayes, 2008) and “has a greater than average reach or impact in a relevant marketplace” (Word of Mouth Marketing Association Handbook).”

Instagram for B2B Social: The Rise of the Visual Influencer

 

Originally posted on WOMMA’s All Things WOMM blog.

2012 will be known as the year when the social web went visual. Pinterest is the fastest growing network of 2012 with a growth of 4,377% in just six months. Growth on this platform continues: Pinterest grew from 20 million to 30 million unique users in July 2012.

Instagram’s sale to Facebook for $1B underscores the interest in an image centric social web. The photo sharing app boasts 100 million users and is becoming engrained in our culture. New York Fashion Week recently introduced a digital tower that displays Instagram users’ photos from the event.

This has given birth to the visual influencer – people whose images and pinboards have attracted a large following. Last week, we used this idea to reach and amplify our IBM client’s important role powering the US Open. Visual influencers received a guided tour of IBM’s impressive cloud, data, and analytics infrastructure as well as the Game Changer Interactive Wall developed by Ogilvy New York & Hush Studios, Inc. for IBM. Influencers included Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley, digital and lifestyle influencer Steven Rojas, and world-class photographer Sam Horine, who gave IBM a combined Instagram audience of over 202,000 followers. One photo alone received 2,548 likes on Instagram.

Visual content is becoming a critical component of the social web, and opens up a whole new channel to amplify and engage.

Here are three quick tips on selecting influencers. Something to keep in mind; it’s not just about who has the biggest following. It’s also about who has the most relevant voice intertwined with the goals of the brand.

  1. Must be active on the Web in the context of your brand.
  2. Have the ability to reach a large audience but also have high levels of engagement. Observe the conversations that take place. Are the conversations back-and-forth with fans/followers or is the person merely talking at their audience?
  3. Be sure the influencer will impact positive sentiment that matches the brand’s audience.

The Coming Influence Marketing (R)evolution (Wherein a Small Percent of Your Audience Drives Outsized Value)

What if, instead of targeting 5,000 people, you could achieve the same bottom line results by engaging 500 or even 5 people, at a lower total cost? That’s the potential of influence marketing. Is it living up to that promise and how can this type of marketing be scaled in 2012?

What we do know:

  • Changes in consumer attention mean marketing is changing, and the change is dramatic
  • It’s becoming clear that one of key players in this change is the individual consumer
  • Individuals are playing a central role because they trust each other often a lot more than they trust companies
  • In today’s environment they’re able to better communicate and share with each other on many things, including products, services and causes

So, do we then target all individuals engaged in social media? Our thinking is that individuals who are influential can create outsized value. There’s been a lively debate around this (see, for example, Paul Adams excellent discussion and his comprehensive collection of relevant research links). It seems to me that most of the debate seems to center around the definitions of who is an influencer. To us, an influencer is not defined solely by the number of people they connect to. Quite simply, an influencer is someone who is capable of and wants to – bring about changes in awareness, perception or action in a group of people, around a specific topic. Below, we present 3 real world data points assessing the value of different types of influencers.

Continue reading The Coming Influence Marketing (R)evolution (Wherein a Small Percent of Your Audience Drives Outsized Value)

Reputation, Risk, and the Digital Domain

Egyptian Women Harassed on International Women’s Day 2011

Oscar Wilde once famously proclaimed, “One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation.”

It goes without saying that at least once, if not several times in our lives, we have all experienced the negative backlash a spiteful rumor or an embarrassing truth can have, but it is often how we handle these imbroglios that truly define our reputations.

In 1997, according to Measures That Matter, The Center for Business Innovation (CBI), and Cap Gemini/Ernst & Young, about 35% of investment decisions were based on factors such as reputation and image. Today, this percentage is considerably higher with the activity and immediacy of Facebook and Twitter.

In addition, Compliance Week also notes that, “Reputation risk is viewed by the majority of executives and investors as the most significant threat posed to a company’s global business operations today and [executives] find it harder to recover from a reputation failure than to build and maintain reputation.”

In fact, it takes approximately 3.5 years for a company to recover from a reputation failure.

Furthermore, though existing on a much larger, ethno-religious scale, a country is also a brand and nations need not be looked at much differently in terms of recovering from the nasty blow of a few bad presidents (or dictators).

With this in mind, when looking at a country’s image (PR, marketing, branding), identity (defining attributes and core values), and reputation (the perception of the country by the public, local communities, and stakeholders), social media has undoubtedly leveled (or distorted) the playing field. We are now able to count social media and bloggers as the emergent 5th Estate of Influence. Thus, examining both positive and negative country characteristics and how social media has helped or hindered them is of the utmost importance when considering direct foreign investment and risk mitigation for a nation.

Country Specific Case Studies

Japanese Tsunami Victims Wait Calmly (EPA/Franck Robichon)

Japanese Tsunami Victims Wait Patiently for Food (EPA/Franck Robichon)

1) Japan’s Calm Amid the Storm: The Japanese Don’t Loot

The news of the recent tsumani in Japan brought shockwaves throughout the digital domain. With video that horrified, social networks were flooded with appeals to donate to the Red Cross. Amid almost apocalyptic imagery, another narrative began to emerge on Facebook and traditional media blogs. Surprisingly, this narrative reflected a population in awe for another reason entirely. As blogs by Ed West of The Telegraph and CNN’s Jack Cafferty pointed out, the Japanese were not looting as we commonly saw during Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti. In short, there were virtually no violent outbursts.

What bloggers and news anchors noted was a culture – and a people which put their community first. Images showed Japanese – young and old – waiting patiently in line for food and water. What did this narrative tell us about Japan? It told us that, although they could be met with unexpected hardship, they were also incredibly caring and patient. We forgot everything we’d ever heard about the brutality of the Yakuza or the fact that Japan is consistently under fire for recklessly killing dolphins and whales. When tragedy struck, instead, we envisioned a noble people who rose above tragic circumstances.

This also reminded us that, in addition to traditional media blogs serving as primary sources of all news sharing among social networks, when we highlight the positive attributes of a nation’s culture, we inevitably minimize the negative.

2) Egypt’s Revolution: Is Not a Revolution Until It’s Women are Free

The revolution in Egypt brought songs of freedom and promises of democracy to a region mired in dictatorial totalitarian regimes. Through Twitter and Facebook, we saw the majority of the outside world rejoice, while other individuals across social networks remained skeptical about who might assume power next.

Social networking was certainly a key factor in helping to overthrow Mubarak with individuals and groups active on Facebook pages like the We Are All Khaled Said Tribute page for a man who was beaten to death by Egyptian police for blogging, or Esraa Abdel Fatah, who earned the nickname Facebook Girl when she organized a nationwide strike through her page in 2008.

However, in a country that made it exceedingly dangerous to organize on a massive scale, it should not be forgotten that there was also a great deal of offline grassroots activity to organize the protest. All of this brought hope to others living under dictatorial regimes throughout the region and we soon saw Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain follow suit. However, we also saw social media networks reflect the less optimistic side of the story.

This side wasn’t solely about democracy, but about the religious extremists that clutched to control like a pitbull to a baby. Not everyone wanted to relinquish the power that they felt was fleeting. On March 8th, 2011, Egyptian women, tired of continuous sexual harassment,rallied for their rights on International Women’s Day only to be sexually attacked by throngs of men and told they were going against Islam (The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights states that 83% of Egyptian women and 98% of foreign women in Egypt have reported exposure to sexual harassment).

This jarring news demonstrated that, although democratic movements can inspire hope, the reputation of a country cannot be changed overnight. If a corporation’s reputation takes three to four years to see improvement in the sharp eye of the 4th Estate, so, too, does a country’s reputation in the sharp hand of the 5th.

Democracy, like reputation, is an ever-evolving process and no man or country is free from criticism, until, of course, their women are free.

Why?

Because individuals in other nations will almost certainly take note and dutifully point this out (again and again) for every other man and woman to read on Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, LiveJournal, or MySpace.

With these examples in mind, here are two key takeaways when attempting to mitigate reputational risks both online and offline.

Grassroots Activism - Los Angeles, California

Grassroots Activism - Los Angeles, California

1.Engage, Empower, and Inspire Your Grassroots Community.

All too often countries think that they can do much of the reputation clean up themselves. They put their ministers, diplomats, or undersecretaries to work, but they often miss another very important element when it comes to making solid change: engaging and empowering grassroots influencers both online and offline.

Whether those influencers are key bloggers, passionate parents, business leaders, NGO’s or activists, the revolutions in Egypt showed us one very powerful thing.

Civil society must be engaged in order to change online perception and make lasting change.

Similarly, Japan’s strong sense of community showed us that when it comes to tragedy and hardship if community is valued above and beyond the needs of the individual there is greater prosperity, social cohesion and safety.

2.Compliance to International Human Rights Standards Translates to a Nation’s Positive Brand Image – A Positive Brand Image Translates to Direct Foreign Investment.

As Marshall McLuhan famously elucidated, we are now, more than ever, living in a global village.A ripple in Asia can be felt as far away as California.Like a cold or its cure, freedom, too, is contagious and, with the advent of instantaneous social media and the space it holds as the new public sphere, direct foreign investment is proportional to a nation’s stance on corruption and human rights.

Just as companies who comply with environmental standards and initiate legitimate CSR campaigns witness increased profits and market share, countries that prioritize the freedom and security of their citizens will also discover that there are numbers (ie. dollars) attached to safety.

As Robert Banton and Shannon Lindsay Banton of University of Memphis posit, Specifically, respect for human rights facilitates a more efficient, productive, skilled, and engaged society that makes a country a more attractive host for FDI. Various factors have been cited that suggest an importance of human rights conditions to foreign investors.Among these are increased public awareness of human rights abuse, greater effectiveness of activists via the internet, an increasing need for well-trained labor, and a desire for access to new markets (Spar 1999). Arguably, respect for human rights creates an environment conducive to the development of human capital, with such countries generally more open, accountable, and economically efficient.


See Michael L. Barnett, John M. Jermier, and Barbara A. Lafferty, Corporate Reputation: The Definitional Landscape, Corporate Reputation Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2006, pp. 26-38