I recently read an article on The Huffington Post about how 2014 is the “Year of the Brand Influencer.” The article explained how content is trusted by consumers more than ads – “with retail sites, brand sites, and blogs being the three most influential content vehicles.” After I read the article I thought to myself, “well yeah, isn’t it obvious that people trust what their friends think more than what an ad on T.V. says?”

I thought it was obvious that people trust genuine, personal content more than ads because I learned it while working on a local mayoral campaign in college and later perfected it on a presidential campaign the next year as a sophomore at Indiana University in 2008. You see, one of the strategies we used to build a strong support base within a community was to have our earliest supporters hold events at their house, a coffee shop, a local art gallery, or even an awesome local cheesecake restaurant and have them invite their circle of friends for something we called a “house party.”

Social Media ConnectivityOriginal name, I know. But you know what? It worked. It worked because the “house parties” weren’t led by paid staff. Instead, we let our earliest supporters organize the event, talk to their neighbors, and take ownership of the campaign. Needless to say, this led to significant support networks that allowed us to outwork our opponents in every campaign I ever worked on. And when you break it down all we did was utilize influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is a term that has become pretty popular in the past few years but a lot of people still don’t understand what it means. Influencer marketing at its core is when someone within your traditional or digital social network advocates the benefits of a product or service and convinces you or other members of your network to purchase, try, or talk about the product or service.

What consumer brands are beginning to realize is that influencer marketing in a digital landscape has a far greater impact than their traditional marketing strategies. Think about it. Who would you trust more? A random person you don’t know talking about a new product in a T.V. commercial you are barely even listening to or a blogger you identify with and read on a regular basis?

In my previous post I said licensing is only part of what we do here at IMC and that it’s an exciting time to be part of the team here. And I was right. With Vibrant Nation and our brand licensing expertise, we are developing forward thinking influencer marketing strategies to give brands like Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Kimberly-Clark a competitive edge and strengthen their position in the marketplace in 2014 and beyond.

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