5 Lessons On Influencer Marketing And Brand Transparency

Meghan M. Biro

influencer marketing on social media influences woman's buying decisionThe other day, I ordered a new drink at Starbucks. Normally, I have my go-to favorite, but for some reason I felt like a change. As I was sipping the foamy concoction, I realized something: I made the switch because of unofficial influencer marketing tactics. My friend had been gushing about the drink during our latest meeting, and that recommendation triggered my subsequent purchase. I made a mental note to try her drink, and I followed through.

There are some marketing pros out there who think that influencer marketing is a game-changer. Social media has leveled the playing field so that it’s not just the Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers of the world that can influence a gaggle of girls to buy a new perfume – now everyone has the potential to become an influencer in his or her own career. Consumers trust their friends, family and advocates far more than they trust banner and TV ads, and they’re more likely to make a purchase because of a recommendation than a billboard.

As a brand champion for talent, I think it’s important to understand how influencer marketing is reshaping the way businesses market and sell their products and create brand ambassadors, so I recently sat down with three respected authorities in the field of influencer marketing. We talked about the state of influencer marketing today, the impact that greater transparency has on the marketplace, and the increasing role that more transparent influencer platforms and tools will play for leaders.

Sam Fiorella is a partner and chief customer experience strategist at Sensei Marketing, as well as a notable author on the topic of influencer marketing. He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and the co-author of Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers.

Marcy Massura is vice president, West Coast director of Digital, and the North American/Global Influence & Community lead for MSLGROUP. She provides digital strategies for numerous clients, as well as strategic counsel for Proctor & Gamble North America.

Mark Fidelman is the CEO of Raynforest, an influencer marketing and advertising network that connects brands with influential people who can get the word out about their products and services. He believes that providing a space for brands to meet influencers accomplishes two things: brands can align with individuals who have the ability to mobilize large groups of consumers on their behalf; and influencers can monetize their efforts and make a living. (Speaking of transparency, I’m an advisor for the exciting new venture.)

5 lessons on influencer marketing shared by 3 experts

1. Influencer marketing requires leadership transparency in order to be successful.

Marcy: “Transparency is the word of the year. It goes hand in hand with authenticity (they are BFFs). We see our brands striving to be transparent in all the areas of their business, from social conversations to access to brand information to crisis response. Transparency desire is a result of an over marketed and now skeptical consumer base. “

Mark: “If there’s no transparency in how [a brand] recruits people, manages them and gets at the results, brands end up throwing the program over the wall to agencies and don’t know if the program works or not until they see the final results.”

2. Current tools claiming to measure social “influence” are inaccurate, underdeveloped, or both.

Mark: “The challenge for brands is learning how to get a piece of the action, since the influencer marketplace today is far from transparent. You’ve got a situation where brands have to work through talent or PR agencies to find and recruit influencers. There are tools out there that claim to help you identify the right influencers by reporting their social media footprint, but they’re woefully underdeveloped when it comes to identifying the right people who truly influence the decisions your target audience makes.”

Sam: “Social scoring platforms have tried to filter the online noise by categorizing who is influential; however, their algorithms have come under fire for inaccuracies, and brands using them report less than optimistic bottom-line results. The market is wide-open for new platforms that understand the relationship between the brand, the influencer, and their audience.”

3. Creating open channels of exchange between brands and influencers is a good thing – as long as it’s done ethically.

Mark: “For influencers, there’s a fine line to walk when it comes to using your influence effectively while maintaining transparency. Joel Oleson, a leader in the Microsoft SharePoint community, does a great job of this. He makes it clear when vendors request a product review, but also makes it clear the views are his own.“

Marcy: “The transactional nature of some transparent influence networks will allow honest connections for both the brand and the influencer. Initially there could be perception problems around the cross over from earned (although even earned impressions with influencers are usually generated by some kind of incentive) to a more direct paid model. “

4. Platforms like Raynforest, which measure influencers’ performance and allow brands to work with and manage influencers, are poised for explosive growth.

Sam: “What I’ve found impressive about Raynforest is the fact that they’ve crowd sourced the development of the solution. The team has openly consulted with industry leaders and marketers on what they’d like to see in an influence marketing platform. This bodes well for their future.”

Mark: “Influencer marketing is one of the hottest industries out there, and there’s overwhelming demand from people that have no way of monetizing their content today. We’ve got a unique magic formula that nobody else has that we’re going to release out of the gate, and we believe a large population of brands and influencers will flock to it.”

 5) Two of the biggest challenges for brands looking to embrace influencer marketing creating a large-scale campaign and measuring the results.

Marcy: “Trying to harness the power of influence is a bit like trying to hug water. It sounds doable until you actually try it. Many brands have been playing in the influence game with outreach of 50 here and 50 there influencers on spreadsheets and have not mastered how to take their influencer marketing to scale. The urge from clients is large scale influence programs…and the results can be astounding.”

Sam: “Social media has created an environment for “citizen influencers” but there are so many disruptions in the communication paths between influencers, decision makers, and the brand that tracking and reporting results is difficult.”

Mark: “Measuring performance and results is more important – and more difficult – than measuring popularity. For example, say you have someone who can run really fast, a very attractive guy, looks great in uniform, can speak well, but you don’t know how well he can play on the ball field…That’s what we measure – how they play. Not how they look off the ball field.”

What say you – is this a game-changer for the world of work and brands?

Chart image credit: Wikipedia



#Forbes , awareness

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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.


About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

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Three Reasons Why The Internet Of Things Is Showing Hockey Stick Growth

Paul Clark

The already massive amount of data being produced daily is going to proliferate with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). An innovative infrastructure must be able to accommodate the billions of connected devices being introduced worldwide that will generate unfathomable amounts of data.

“Within the next three years, the data created by IoT devices will reach 403 trillion gigabytes annually.”
– 99 Mind-Blowing Ways the Digital Economy is Changing the Future of Business, Source: Cisco, Global Cloud Index

Less than five years ago, Big Data was thought of as a data management challenge. Today, supercomputing power is everywhere, microprocessors are in every device, computers can be scaled as needed, and in-memory, real-time computing solutions are revolutionizing business software. As a result, data volumes are expected to grow to 6 billion petabytes, including unstructured data such as social networking and low-level IoT data.

The concept of IoT is not new, but what is new are the factors contributing to the popularity of IoT. The SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World, says the extensive growth in the IoT market is due to three main factors:

  1. Inexpensive sensors. The cost of product sensors has dropped dramatically, allowing even startups to easily create innovative IoT product applications.
  1. Stronger computing power. Analytics and in-memory computing solutions enable the computing power necessary to gain insightful meaning from big data and data lakes in real time.
  1. Internet protocol IPv6. The new IPv6 enables immense IoT expansion by increasing IP addresses from 32 bits to 128 bits, which could support up to 78 octillion Internet addresses, allowing an almost unlimited number of people, processes, data, and things to be connected to the Internet.

How to manage it all

As everything becomes more connected, how will we use and manage this unprecedented amount of data? Data management and in-memory computing solutions are increasingly essential tools. They enable companies to unlock immense value from the volumes of data being collected from an escalating number of sources such as product sensors, mobile devices, machines, asset monitors, computers, and social media platforms.

New advances in in-memory computing technology delivering enriched interactive analytics will make it easier for businesses to combine structured transactional data from existing applications with new contextual data from multiple other sources, including IoT applications.

As the number of IoT sensors increases, the amount of information created from this exponential growth in IoT is sure to bring new meaning to the term “Big Data.”

Learn more about IoT, data analytics, and other facets of digital transformation in the SAP eBook Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.


About Paul Clark

Paul Clark is responsible for developing and executing partner marketing strategies, activities, and programs in joint go-to-market plans with global technology partners. The goal is to increase opportunities, pipeline, and revenue through demand generation via SAP's global and local partner ecosystems.

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