“Trust today – especially brand trust – is at an all-time low and there are a lot of factors that go into that,” says Erin Lanuti, chief influence strategist at MSL and global lead, Conversation2Commerce.
The Native Advertising Institute interviewed her at their Native Advertising DAYS 2017 about brand trust and how using influence marketing can increase brand trust.
Below are highlights from the interview which have been slightly edited for clarity.
There’s a fantastic study that talks about how millennials trust influencers twice as much as brands today, whereas boomers still trust influence and brands somewhat equally.
So as a marketer this is particularly challenging because we have to figure out how we can leverage different forms of marketing to make sure that we’re driving a business impact for our clients.
Fake news is a hot topic right now, as we all know. When we looked at the global search volume for fake news, we found that it’s up 400 per cent in the past year. Which isn’t surprising because you’ve got politicians in the media each disparaging one another, claiming that the other is fake news.
The challenge with that, though, is that it diminishes the trust in those institutions. And for us, as we look at leveraging influence at scale in the form of native advertising and many other things, it’s a huge caution.
If they continue to disparage the credibility of news, it’s only gonna hurt the trust that people have in the content we’re trying to get out there.
One of the things that we’re seeing is that very savvy influencers are using a lot of different tactics to boost their reach.
They think that if they have a higher reach on a topic that a brand is more likely to hire them to write about their product or service.
But in reality, they’re faking that reach number. As marketers, we need to be cognisant of the fact that reach should be, of course, a metric that you look at. But you need to look at it in conjunction with engagement, relevance, and some of those other things to make sure that you’re balancing it out and understand that this person truly is the right, most relevant person to talk about your brand.
There are actually six different types of influence.
There is everything from publisher content, which is news driven type content, to influencers which would be key opinion leaders (KOL’s), celebrities, trusted endorsers of your brand if you will.
Then you have things like videos that could come from any of those sources, ratings and reviews that can come from an influencer or user-generated via star rating and awards that you could receive.
So there are lots of different types of influence, but at the core, influence is really about a trusted third party saying something about you.
Influence can be organic, where someone has a great experience with your brand and wants to tweet or post or share that experience.
Or we can identify influencers who are the most credible and authoritative, based on the topic that we’re trying to convey and actually hire them or commission that content.
One of the benefits of influence is that — if you think about it — it’s the most trusted and credible type of content that you can have.
By amplifying and targeting influence to the precise person at the right time in their brand journey, you’re able to accelerate the movement through the funnel. So you serve them that earned content to answer whatever search question they’re asking and then you follow it with a brand message to close the loop and drive them faster to purchase.
There are five things that we like to look at when selecting an influencer.
The first is authority. We look, typically, at search data to see who has the most authority and rank on certain topics or messages.
The second thing we look at is social media metrics. We leverage a bunch of different influencer identification tools to look at who has the most relevance against those terms.
What’s the engagement rate of said sources around those terms? Is that engagement rate falling or is it rising? What is it over time?
Then we also look at reach. The reason it’s fourth is that there’s a lot of influencer fraud where influencers are faking their reach numbers. So we look at it fourth, as a metric of consideration but not a core must-have.
The last thing we look at is history. We want to make sure that we’re reading the person’s posts or content and we want to make sure they’re talking about our brand favourably. Are they already endorsing our competitors?
These are all the things that we want to look at to understand who this person really is and what’s the type of content and the voice in which they write it.
Brands really need to shift the way that they think about influence. It’s not an “I’m gonna test it”, fluffy, nice-to-have thing that I keep on the side.
It is the most credible, authoritative, cost-effective way to drive a business impact nowadays. And in order to leverage that, they need to rethink the way in which they market and also how they’re structured to enable it to flow across all their different marketing aspects so that they’re getting the most lift and benefit from it.
I think that’s probably one of the most important things I want people to take away.
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