• Bex Highfield

Influencers And Reputation Management

When it comes to how and what people think about your organisation, there's no doubt that the world has changed. Whether its Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg diverting campaign spend to influencers or the social media ‘take down’ by Nandos of the Burger King ad, we live in a new era for reputation management.

The rise of the influencer has transformed how stories are spread and organisations thought of. According to leading Italian philosopher Gloria Origgi, they aren’t simply a result of smartphones turning everyone into content producers. The influencer industry, forecasted to be worth $15 billion by 2022, has emerged because we live in an age of ‘information overload’.

The incredible amount of content and information we have available to us has (counterintuitively) not empowered us or made decision making autonomous. Instead, we’re left more dependent on the judgment and evaluation of others.

In effect, we’ve experienced a paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge and are in a ‘reputation age’ where information only has value if it has been filtered, evaluated and commented upon by others. If this sounds ridiculous think about some of the biggest brands like Amazon, Airbnb and Deliveroo which are built on users’ sharing their reviews to inform a buying decision.

The impact of influencers on decision making also extends to business leaders. A US report in 2015 found four in five CEOs use social media when making purchasing decisions.

The implication for reputation management is that we have to be aware that a far more complex ecosystem will impact how people make up their mind about any organisation. We’re just as likely to rely on the opinion of In the Frow as Sali Hughes when choosing make up; Guido Fawkes as Owen Jones on politics. Trusted experts such as journalists or politicians are of course still in the mix but our judgement will be based on a far more diverse range of information than ever before.

Navigating this world requires marketeers to take a far more comprehensive view of brand awareness that reflects the many audiences that could influence their target customers. The good news is that there are many tools available to help, including Vuelio and Pulsar which apply technology and insight to identify influencers important to an organisation, topic or breaking issue. Pulsar maps how an individual engages with content online and across social media to define how communities develop (and disappear) around certain themes. It gives a real time view of who is important according to the topics and content they share.

The good news is that these tools, and the transparency of digital sources, make it possible to define, monitor and understand the importance of influencers in real-time. And once that landscape is well understood, it is then easy to create an engagement strategy that can deliver long term reputational benefit – and mitigate risk.

Realising the opportunity for reputation management does require a new approach that starts with the acknowledgement of how complex the influencer landscape is. Investment is then needed to be made to put in place the resource and tools for monitoring, evaluation and response. This requires brands to recognise that in this new age of reputation, reputation management cannot be for those with short attention spans. Marketing campaigns come and go, but for truly effective reputation management to include influencer engagement it must be a long term commitment.

By Natalie Orringe, Chief Marketing Officer, Access Intelligence

Read our article on Micro VS Macro Influencers.

#influencers #Brand

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