Influence is the New Engagement
Now that we’ve all caught our breath from what was yet another incredible Advertising Week in New York City, we thought we’d take some time to share a little about what we did there. In between seminars, events, and press meetings, we managed to organize our very own panel discussion on a topic near and dear to the hearts of everyone at Lithium and Klout: Influence.
As part of the Influence 2.0 Summit, our panel titled, “Turn the World Into Your Publisher,” brought together respected brands and social influencers in an inspiring conversation about the evolution of influence. Panelists included Joe Fernandez (Founder of Klout), David Caruso (COO and Partner at United Entertainment Group), Corey Andrew (Musician and Influencer), and Funk Flex (DJ, Musician, and Producer) and was moderated by Adweek reporter, Garett Sloane.
For those of you who don’t have 45 minutes to spare, here’s a quick overview of what was discussed. (Though, if we do say so ourselves, it’s quite an entertaining panel and definitely worth watching over your lunch break!) But here are the main points:
“The Internet has become people-centric”
Joe Fernandez couldn’t have said it better. Social media has put power into people’s hands – the power to influence, the power to access information quickly, the power to be much more autonomous than ever before. He continued, “We don’t trust brands, we trust our friends...consumers have a level of power they haven’t had in years,” signifying a shift in consumer culture, one that revolves around the notion of community – or, as Eric Brown so precisely put it in his opening remarks, “Community is at the heart of the digital customer experience.” Simply put, the best and most successful marketing today is created and disseminated by consumers, fans, and followers, not by multi-million dollar advertising campaigns.
“It needs to be organic”
You’ve likely heard this time and time again – and that’s because it’s true: authenticity matters. Even more so in the social influencer space. Influencers need to be mindful of their own brand reputation every step of the way. As Cory Andrews put it, “There’s a level of finesse – filling your part as ambassador, being truthful, and not overwhelming your feed with stuff about brands.” In other words, the constant challenge for today’s social influencer is about striking the balance of being your genuine self and putting a spotlight on the brands that have come to you to help elevate their reputation.
“You must have content that’s engaging”
Ok, this may seem like a no-brainer, but it was a pretty solid topic of conversation. Think about it this way. Once a person rises to the level of social influencer, then the expectation to create content (or conversation) that constantly engages goes up exponentially. The pressure is always on to not disappoint an eager audience. But this reality stretches well beyond our known social influencers and into the realm of your “average Joe.” Given the role social media plays in our life, it’s pretty much a guarantee that each person is essentially an influencer of somebody. Social media has changed the ways we communicate, interact, and engage with each other. And it all comes down to content - good content.
“Klout Perks – it’s a two-way relationship.”
There was quite a bit of discussion around Klout Perks and its overall value proposition to both brands and consumers alike. “Both” is the operative word there. “We’re helping bridge the conversation between the brand and influencers,” said Joe Fernandez, “For a brand that’s already maxed out what they can do in niche marketing, these influencer relationships become the most important thing to them.” What has become evident, as the Klout Perks program has continued to grow and flourish, is the rise of influencer marketing – a new channel through which influencers (highly targeted and relevant, we might add) get amazing products, discounts and VIP access in exchange for spreading positive word of mouth on behalf of the brands responsible for sending them the exclusive rewards. It’s a relationship with a little bit of give and take. But that’s indicative of social media culture as a whole – everything these days is a constantly flowing dialogue between friends, followers, brands and so on. Klout Perks has just created a more effective, measurement-driven way of harnessing the power of this new marketing.
You’ll have to watch the rest…
While we’d love to give away all the spoilers here, we’re going to have to let you watch the rest. Trust us, it’s a really great panel – time will fly, and you’ll certainly learn something new!
And if you have thoughts on what influence means in today’s marketing ecosystem, please leave your comments below.
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