[INTERVIEW] The Business of Influence & Key UGC Best Practices
When it comes to working with influencers or launching user-generated campaigns, it’s difficult to know when and how much to invest and who the best partners are. This month, David Richeson, Managing Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation at Marina Maher Communications, joins Chute co-founder Gregarious Narain in a conversation around tactics for tapping into influence to actually drive conversation and not just noise. In preparation for the talk, we had the chance to discuss the world of influence and UGC with David, and he was kind enough to answer some common questions marketers often have about the space. Check out the interview below and signup for the webinar here!
Q: What are some of the key topics you’re hoping to dive into in the upcoming webinar?
A: The power of influencers of all types. How blending traditional media, top-to-mid tier influencers and authentic consumers can create an amazing “surround sound” for your brand or product. How to strategically scale these methods to create outstanding business results.
Q: One of the latest trends in the space of influencer marketing seems to be around micro or niche influencers. Is this something you’ve been tapping into also at Marina Maher Communications?
A: Yes, we believe influence can come from anywhere. We commonly use everyday consumers that we discover with social listening platforms or networks of consumer advocates to connect with people and share their authentic enthusiasm for the brands they love. Now, with paid social amplification and native advertising, I can amplify a person with 50 followers to an audience of millions. What’s most important is the authenticity of the endorsement.
Q: How should marketers decide which influencers they should (or shouldn’t) be working with?
A: There are great tools out there (like Chute or Traackr) that help to identify potential influencers. Everyday there are more. We use a proprietary method at MMC that involves modeling the actual conversation online to see who is actually influencing the conversation most, then our team vets each person to make sure they make sense for our brands.
Don’t just use someone because they are a “name”. Really think about your audience and discover people who will really influence THEM (in all tiers of influence).
Q: When it comes to user-generated content, what are best practices marketers should keep in minde?
A: Be strategic: What are you trying to achieve with your UGC effort?
Authenticity is key: Find people who actually love your product. It shows.
Be specific in your ask: Don’t just say “share your story”. What is the money shot for your brand or product?
Images (or video) are key: Images or video posts always outperform text-only content.
Disclose: If you incentivized the endorsement in any way (even free product), make sure they disclose it.
Target, Amplify and Auto-optimize: Use paid social and native advertising to amplify these messages to other members of your target audience. When you auto-optimize, the most engaging content will win.
Build lasting relationships: These people are your brand ambassadors. Stay engaged with them and they will be happy to spread the love over time.
Q: How do you see both influencer and UGC marketing evolving in the future?
A: I see certain networks promising to allow brands to “buy” an audience in the influencer world the way you can now in digital paid media. I don’t think it will ever be that simple, but I do see it becoming easier to discover, contract, engage with, and measure the effectiveness of influencers of all types. These systems are now in their early days. Each one has strengths and weaknesses, in the same way that social listening software was fractured in the early days.
It’s exciting being on the leading edge of this new era of marketing and communications.