Once upon a time, your comfort level with a large purchase or big decision was dictated primarily by the opinions and endorsements of family, friends, and neighbors. Now, that circle of trust has expanded to include online strangers and industry experts whose reviews have become as valued as those of your close relations—if not more.

Why the shift? Content Marketing has shown that people seek out information when and where they want it. There’s an immediate need to have a question answered and a problem solved—even if that answer comes from someone they’ve never met.

As an organization, how do you identify and engage with these online influencers who have the voice and the vehicle to positively or negatively impact your brand’s reputation?

Consider “influencer engagement”—a critical component of any content marketing strategy and a topic I spoke about recently at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s second Content Marketing Seminar.

Influencer engagement involves directing your marketing activities at key individuals (or types of individuals) rather than the target market as a whole. It’s an essential strategy in an organization’s content marketing toolbox because it:

  • Establishes credibility through industry influencers
  • Creates brand ambassadors
  • Furthers your reach and establishes legitimacy from third-party endorsements

Let’s look at some powerful statistics around the impact of influencers.

  • Word of mouth has proven to influence between 20% and 50% of all purchasing decisions.
  • Industry experts have the greatest influence on first-time purchases and on large purchases with a higher cost—factors that tend to make people conduct more research, seek more opinions, and deliberate longer.
  • Research from Twitter shows that 49% of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers.
    • 20% said that a Tweet from an influencer inspired them to share their own product recommendation.
    • Nearly 40% of Twitter users said they had made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s Tweet.
  • Businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
  • 88% of customers trust online reviews by strangers as much as they would recommendations from friends.

For many brands, influencer engagement is an untapped opportunity to make meaningful and persuasive connections with both the people talking about your brand and the people you want to purchase your product. Is yours one of them?

To understand how to launch an influencer engagement strategy that supports your organization’s marketing efforts and business goals, give us a call.

Jillian Fiorella, Content Strategy & Public Relations Director