WOMMA Webinar: Influencers are the Holy Grail of WOM Marketing

By Amy Kossoff Smith, Write Ideas, Inc.

I recently attended a WOMMA webinar on the science behind “influencers.”  The title alone is very telling, as it referred to influencers in your campaign as “the holy grail of marketing.”  Need I say more?

The webinar, while very technical, and honestly, lost me at times, did bring up some salient points that make you think about not only the quantity but the quality of “influencers” on a given campaign.  With social media buzz rampant, anyone can proclaim that they’re a so-called expert.  In fact, case in point, I was having dinner with friends, when one was talking about someone’s new friend and proclaimed, “He’s a real artist.  It says so in Wikipedia!”  Again, don’t let the name fool you…Wikipedia is a user-updatable resource where ANYONE can change an entry.  So basically, I could go in right now and say that the sun is blue or that pasta doesn’t have carbohydrates, and it would read that way.   Now, before we get too scared, Wikipedia does have some controls on board apparently, and they do some damage control to fix blatant errors.  But the name, Wikipedia, sounds like encyclopedia to me, which means fact.

Anyhow, back to the webinar.  I will share some of my notes, but need to attribute the expertise to the panel leaders.  WOMMA members Dr. Michael Wu, Principal Scientist of Analytics, and Phil Soffer, VP of Product Marketing, of Lithium Technologies shared recent findings from  data on word of mouth interactions and influencer marketing.  Wu recommended, and I’ll put the speaker and moderator’s words in “quotes” and add my thoughts in parens ( )  that influencers have many things, including domain credibility (they know what they’re talking about); high bandwidth (reach), content relevance (makes sense), timing (it’s everything), and channel alignment (basically the overlap between your target and the influencer – should match up).

He said that it’s more than just a numbers game.  Just because you have a lot of followers on Twitter or a lot of friends on Facebook, to have true credibility, you need to look at “reputation data” (what they’ve achieved) and “reciprocity” (love the term, basically, what OTHERS say about them).  Wu also stressed the effectiveness of “community WOM” – basically strength in quality numbers will “overcome the decaying effect of distance and time” and “gives you a high concentration of passionate consumers.”  The result, he said, is “an ongoing conversation, persistent content…and innovation…which heightens enthusiasm, prolongs message lifetime, and increases relevance and adoption.”   I’m in!  Where do I sign up?!

The moderator said a key take-away on all of this is that interest-oriented communities, where you’ve gathered people with like interests, “create sustained topic engagement and concentrate messages.”  It’s all about value, as we know, and they shared some case studies where brands who used their Lithium Technologies platform increased sales.  For one, Barnes & Noble created an online book club where people got books in advance and talked about them online.  They basically offered “first mover advantage,” he said, because influential readers are also people who like to talk about what they read.  So, that’s their sales pitch, of course, but good, free, pertinent information often comes with one!  Hope you enjoyed this one!

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