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The Currency of Influence in Marketing — Buy, Sell, or Trade

Posted on Aug 27th, 2019
Written by Lane Ellis
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    Paper currencies from many nations image.

    Influence is its own form of a modern digital currency. Influence is able to overcome almost any obstacle, and more than ever, it’s the powerful (sometimes-hidden) global fuel that helps drive our multi-trillion dollar online business world.

    In fact, according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer “In Brands We Trust?” report, 63% of consumers trust what influencers say about brands much more than what brands say about themselves within their advertising messages.

    An even more telling statistic from the same study is that 58% said they had purchased a product in the past six months because of an influencer, as shown below.

    2019 Edelman Trust Influencer Image

    As the internet has matured since its 1991 creation, networking between people around the world has expanded to truly astounding heights, helping make wonderful projects and partnerships happen.

    It’s not about who has the most followers, or the gaudiest personal brand. It’s about who resonates most with your specific customers and prospects. — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Share on X

    By learning the importance of influence, how best to incorporate it into your own life and marketing, and how to deal with some of its primary challenges, B2B marketers and brands can harness the power of influence and reach new levels of business and personal success.

    Whether you call it influence, networking pull, or professional persuasion, connecting with successful people in your industry will bolster your own efforts both today and long into the future.

    Buy: Influence Is Loaded With Strengths

    Influencer Word Highlighted by Marker

    Successfully wielding online influence today puts the world at your fingertips.

    As with gold or paper money, the currency of influence can be earned, accumulated, spent, traded, or used towards philanthropic causes.

    When influence is willingly shared it has the special quality of creating other new introductions and connections, setting in motion a sphere of professional networking and knowledge that can keep growing as long as you put in the effort to understand and maintain it.

    Working with influencers is about building solid relationships that last over time, not just a summer fling. — Ashley Zeckman @azeckman Share on X

    Just as influence comes in vastly varying degrees, so to do influencers, who can take the form of micro-influencers or other specialty varieties. Recent data from several surveys shows that micro and niche-influencers are forging stronger target audience connections and boosting long-term loyalty.

    Heather-Mae Pusztai of Buffer recently took a close look at micro-influencers, in “Why Micro-Influencers May Be the Most Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy.”

    Topically, the influencers you work with must have relevant expertise, insight, interest, and audience, ultimately aligning with your goals and expertise of your brand. — Caitlin Burgess @CaitlinMBurgess Share on X

    More and more brands are looking to harness the power of influence through influencer marketing initiatives. In fact, influencer marketing spending in the U.S. and Canada has seen 83% year-over-year growth, accompanied by second-quarter spending of $442 million, according to recent research data from Instascreener. Over the next 12 months, 65% of multinational brands plan to increase influencer marketing spending, according to the World Federation of Advertisers.

    We’ve explored the unique strengths of influencer marketing in many recent articles, including these helpful takes:

    Sell: Influence Is Rife With Challenges

    Woman rock climber scaling vertical wall.

    Who really has influence and who is merely claiming to? Building influence is time-consuming, so why should I even bother?

    There’s little doubt that celebrity influencers have faced increasing skepticism, but the process of finding true B2B industry experts who are hyper-relevant to your industry is as important as ever, and we’ve looked at how to go about this in several recent pieces:

    The challenges influencer marketing has faced are real yet surmountable, especially when campaigns are conducted for the long term, with proper planning, key performance indicators (KPIs), and goals.

    When done well, it’s no wonder that 95% of respondents to a recent DGR survey favor credible content from industry influencers, a 30% increase over 2018.

    Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both online and offline engagements. — Konstanze Alex @konstanze Share on X

    The topic of influencer marketing was present during this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, as Maja Pawinska Sims covered in “Cannes: Brands Can Avoid Being Fake By Shifting To Niche Influencers,” and in our recent “6 Cannes Revelations About B2B Marketing in 2020.”

    Trade: Influence’s Future Strong Yet Still Unfolding

    Woman holding ball of energy image.

    Measuring influence has changed over time and will continue to evolve.

    Will the ability to achieve and grow online influence remain fully accessible to everyone, or will those holding little influence and clout face insurmountable obstacles in the future?

    Will a backlash against celebrity influencers — or perhaps even twinfluencers — continue, or will methods and systems evolve that help us filter out pretenders and make it easier to discover and connect with true industry experts?

    The growth of influence on individual and organizational effectiveness in the B2B marketing world will continue for years to come. @leeodden Share on X

    Educator and writer Lillie Marshall recently took a look at the challenges that even using the word influencer can sometimes present, and the role diversity can play when considering the quality of influence. She ultimately prefers using the word “sway” over influence, a fine synonym in my book as well.

    It’s a fine balance to embrace the power and joy of our voices, yet honor what audiences truly desire. — Lillie Marshall @WorldLillie Share on X

    Several additional resources we’ve compiled to dig in and explore how influence and influencer marketing can intertwine to help B2B firms are these:

    Whether you’re tired of or wired for 'influencer marketing', make no mistake: The growth of influence on individual and organizational effectiveness in the B2B marketing world will continue for years to come. @leeodden Share on X

    Influencer Marketing Offers a Win-Win Partnership

    Win-win Scrabble tiles image.

    Whether you call it influencer marketing or working with top relevant experts in your industry, the quality of influence itself has a timeless and unmistakable power to drive successful marketing campaigns.

    When identifying and qualifying influencers, go beyond what the numbers are and see what that data really means. — Amisha Gandhi @AmishaGandhi Share on X

    Here are three articles with examples of how influencer marketing has helped B2B firms achieve strong results:

    With enough hard work, great fortunes of influence can be earned and put to use, whether in marketing campaigns or other areas of our lives.

    Finding a marketing agency specializing in influencer marketing can be difficult enough, and if you need one focused on the world of B2B, the challenge can be all the more daunting.

    Thankfully, the number of marketers realizing the power of influencer marketing has grown, and even esteemed measurement groups like Forrester have begun listing B2B agencies that specialize in influencer marketing. TopRank Marketing was thrilled to be the only such agency listed in Forrester’s most recent “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019” report.

    Want to dive deeper into influencer marketing tips, tricks, tactics, and strategies? Then take a gander at our vast collection of influence marketing insights on the TopRank Marketing Blog.