Shortly before the holiday break, I came across a Forbes article.
Well, I should say I came across an article at Forbes.com. I’ve stopped trusting a lot of the online versions of news magazines because they’ve essentially sold off the association with a trusted news organization to anyone who can write a coherent blog post.
This particular piece was written by Leonard Cercone, who is listed as a Forbes Agency Council Member. That means his firm pays for the right for him to be able to post on the site. Certainly, that doesn’t mean his offering isn’t credible. Cercone is the CEO of CBC PR & Digital Marketing. And the piece has some good nuggets of advice in it.
But it’s not something written by a Forbes staff journalist, which is an important distinction, I think.
At any rate, I digress.
Cercone’s piece was focused on what brands should do if they don’t like the ROI or return on investment of their influencer marketing programs. His underlying theme was that beyond the quick retail, swipe-to-buy types of products, you have to build a content strategy that drives social media audiences to your website to convert as a lead or customer.
He cautions brands not to rely as much on Instagram since it is designed to keep people on the platform, advises to focus on TikTok, Twitter and more long-form content creators like bloggers, and work with creators to build a series of posts for the brand, not just one off entries.
None of these pieces of advice are bad or wrong. I especially like the last one. A single post doesn’t really do much. Engaging creators for several pieces of content over time accounts for frequency of message which we all know is more important than reach. What is the metric people are using now? 7, 8, 9 times a consumer needs to see your brand’s message before they purchase?
The Problem with the Article
The problem I have with Cercone’s piece really has nothing to do with what’s there. It’s what isn’t. And that’s not Cercone’s fault. He’s servicing the influencer marketing interest with the same, old way of thinking.
Find a social media influencer with a lot of followers. Pay them whatever their fee is to post about your product. And hopefully you’ll see some degree of lift from it all, especially if you build and measure it well.
The problem with the old way of doing it is that social media influencers have built-in red flags. It’s hard to tell which ones are actually effective at persuading their audiences to take action. It’s also fair to be skeptical that all of those many thousands of followers are even real people who can take action in the first place. And then there’s the cost. I was recently quoted $7,500 for a single Instagram post by someone who had less than 60,000 followers. Nothing about that math makes any sense at all.
That’s why we at CIPIO.ai believe in and are advocating for Community Influence Marketing as the core of a brand’s strategy. And we see 4-5 times lift in ROI from our customers compared to their previous influencer work.
What’s the difference? Instead of looking outward at social media influencers to find people who will talk about your brand, you start by looking inward, at your own community of customers, employees, followers, partners and beyond, to map and identify who among them has influence.
Some will have a few dozen followers on social media. Others may have hundreds, thousands, or even fall into the category of a more traditional social media influencer based on their audience size. The key difference in this list of potential creators to partner with is they already know you. They consume your product. They follow you on social media.
You probably don’t have to bribe them to talk about you. And regardless, when they do, what they say is more authentic, believable and trusted by their audiences.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers say they trust the recommendation and referral of family and friends over all other sources when shopping. When you tap into your own community for influence, you’re igniting the power of that trusted, word-of-mouth network to recommend you over others.
Community Influence Marketing drives more authentic, trusted recommendations for your brand. That leads to greater return on investment.
So sure … follow the tips that Cercone shared. His advice isn’t bad. But if you are really unsatisfied with the ROI of your influencer marketing programs, maybe you should also focus on putting the people to work who know you best to drive that influence.
We can certainly help with that at CIPIO.ai. We are the leading Community Commerce Marketing platform with an array of applications to help your brand identify and activate brand advocates, including our signature one, our Community Influence Marketing app.