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

Paper currencies from many nations image.

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.

[bctt tweet=”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” username=”toprank”]

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.

[bctt tweet=”Working with influencers is about building solid relationships that last over time, not just a summer fling. — Ashley Zeckman @azeckman” username=”toprank”]

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.”

[bctt tweet=”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” username=”toprank”]

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.

[bctt tweet=”Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both online and offline engagements. — Konstanze Alex @konstanze” username=”toprank”]

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?

[bctt tweet=”The growth of influence on individual and organizational effectiveness in the B2B marketing world will continue for years to come. @leeodden” username=”toprank”]

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.

[bctt tweet=”It’s a fine balance to embrace the power and joy of our voices, yet honor what audiences truly desire. — Lillie Marshall @WorldLillie” username=”toprank”]

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

[bctt tweet=”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” username=”toprank”]

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.

[bctt tweet=”When identifying and qualifying influencers, go beyond what the numbers are and see what that data really means. — Amisha Gandhi @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]

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.

The post The Currency of Influence in Marketing — Buy, Sell, or Trade appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

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

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 Click To Tweet

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 Click To Tweet

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 Click To Tweet

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 Click To Tweet

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 Click To Tweet

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 Click To Tweet

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 Click To Tweet

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 Click To Tweet

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.

Kindness as Currency: How Good Deeds Can Benefit Your Local Business

“To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.” – Taisen Deshimaru, Buddhist philosopher


A woman stands in a busy supermarket checkout line. The shopper in front of her realizes that they don’t have enough money with them to cover their purchase, so she steps in and makes up the balance. Then, when she reaches the checkout, her own receipt totals up higher than she was expecting. She doesn’t have enough left in her purse.

“No problem,” says the young clerk and swipes his own debit card to pay for her groceries.

A bystander snaps a photo and posts the story to Facebook. The story ends up on local radio and TV news. Unstructured citations for the grocery store start crackling like popcorn. National news takes notice. A scholarship foundation presents a check to the clerk. When asked how he felt about it, the clerk said:

“Personally, I think it’s undeserved attention. Because she did something so good … I felt like it was my responsibility to return the favor.”

In the process, if only for a moment in time, an everyday supermarket is transformed into a rescue operation for hope in humanity. Through the lens of local SEO, it’s also a lesson in how good deeds can be rewarded by good mentions.

Studying business kindness can be a rewarding task for any motivated digital marketing agency or local brand owner. I hope this post will be both a pick-me-up for the day, and a rallying cry to begin having deeper conversations about the positive culture businesses can create in the communities they serve.

10+ evocative examples of business kindness

“We should love people and use things, but sadly, we love things and use people,” Roger Johnson, Artisan

As a youngster in the American workforce, I ran into some very peculiar styles of leadership.

For instance, one boss gruffly told me not to waste too much time chatting with the elderly customers who especially loved buying from me…as if customer support doesn’t make or break business reputations.

And then there was the cranky school secretary who reprimanded me for giving ice packs to children because she believed they were only “trying to get attention” … as if schools don’t exist to lavish focus on the kids in their care.

In other words, both individuals would have preferred me to be less kind, less human, than more so.

Perhaps it was these experiences of my superiors taking a miserly approach to workplace human kindness that inspired me to keep a little file of outbreaks of goodwill that earned online renown. These examples beg self-reflective questions of any local business owner:

  1. If you launched your brand in the winter, would you have opened your doors while under construction to shelter and feed housing-insecure neighbors?
  2. If a neighboring business was struggling, would you offer them floor space in your shop to help them survive?
  3. Would your brand’s culture inspire an employee to cut up an elder’s ham for him if he needed help? How awesome would it be if a staffer of yours had a day named after her for her kindness? Would your employees comp a meal for a hungry neighbor or pay a customer’s $200 tab because they saw them hold open a door for a differently-abled guest?
  4. What good things might happen in a community you serve if you started mailing out postcards promoting positivity?
  5. What if you gave flowers to strangers, including moms, on Mother’s Day?
  6. How deeply are you delving into the season of giving at the holidays? What if, like one business owner, you opened shop on Thanksgiving just to help a family find a gift for a foster child? You might wake up to international fame on Monday morning.
  7. What if visitors to your community had their bikes stolen on a road trip and your shop gifted them new bikes and ended up on the news?
  8. One business owner was so grateful for his community’s help in overcoming addiction, he’s been washing their signage for free. What has your community done for you and how have you thanked them?
  9. What if all you had to do was something really small, like replacing negative “towed at your own expense” signs by welcoming quick stop parking?
  10. What if you, just for a day, you asked customers to pay for their purchases with kind acts?

I only know about these stories because of the unstructured citations (online references to a local business) they generated. They earned online publicity, radio, and television press. The fame for some was small and local, for others, internationally viral. Some activities were planned, but many others took place on the spur of the moment. Kindness, empathy, and gratitude, flow through them all like a river of hope, inviting every business owner to catch the current in their own way. One easy way for local business owners to keep better track of any positive mentions is by managing and monitoring reviews online with the New Moz Local.

See your online presence

Can kindness be taught in the workplace?

In Demark, schoolchildren learn empathy as a class subject. The country is routinely rated as one of the happiest in the world. At Moz, we have the TAGFEE code, which includes both generosity and empathy, and our company offers internal workshops on things like “How to be TAGFEE when you disagree.” We are noted for the kindness of our customer support, as in the above review.

According to Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki, people “catch” cooperation and generosity from others. In his study, the monetary amount donors gave to charity went up or down based on whether they were told their peers gave much or little. They matched the generosity or stinginess they witnessed. In part two of the study, the groups who had seen others donating generously went on to offer greater empathy in writing letters to penpals suffering hard times. In other words, kindness isn’t just contagious — its impact can spread across multiple activities.

Mercedes-Benz CEO, Stephen Cannon, wanted employees to catch the kindness bug because of its profound impact on sales. He invited his workforce to join a “grassroots movement” that resulted in surprising shoppers with birthday cakes, staff rushing to remote locations with spare tires, and other memorable consumer experiences. Cannon noted:

“There is no scientific process, no algorithm, to inspire a salesperson or a service person to do something extraordinary. The only way you get there is to educate people, excite them, incite them. Give them permission to rise to the occasion when the occasion to do something arises. This is not about following instructions. It’s about taking a leap of faith.”

In a 2018 article, I highlighted the reviews of a pharmacy that made it apparent that staff wasn’t empowered to do the simplest self-determined acts, like providing a chair for a sick man who was about to fall down in a long prescription counter line. By contrast, an Inc. book review of Jill Lublin’s The Profits of Kindness states:

“Organizations that trade in kindness allow their employees to give that currency away. If you’re a waitress, can you give someone a free piece of pie because the kid at the next table spilled milk on their foot? If you’re a clerk in a hotel, do you have the authority to give someone a discounted rate because you can tell they’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?”

There may be no formula for teaching kindness, but if Zaki is right, then leadership can be the starting point of demonstrative empathy that can emanate through the staff and to its customers. How do you build for that?

A cared-for workforce for customer service excellence

You can find examples of individual employees behaving with radical kindness despite working for brands that routinely disregard workers’ basic needs. But, this hardly seems ideal. How much better to build a business on empathy and generosity so that cared-for staff can care for customers.

I ran a very quick Twitter poll to ask employees what their very most basic need is:

Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents cited a living wage as their top requirement. Owners developing a kind workforce must ensure that staff are housing-and-food-secure, and can afford the basic dignities of life. Any brand that can’t pay its staff a living wage isn’t really operational — it’s exploitation.

Beyond the bare minimums, Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2019 Survey of 7,300 executives, HR experts, and employees highlighted trending worker emphasis on:

  • Flexibility in both hours and location to create a healthy work/life balance
  • Ethics in company technology, practices, and transparency
  • Equity in pay ratios, regardless of gender
  • Empathy in the workplace, both internally and in having a positive societal impact with customers

It’s just not very hard to connect the dots between a workforce that has its basic and aspirational needs met, and one possessing the physical, mental and emotional health to extend those values to consumers. As I found in a recent study of my own, 70 percent of negative review resolution was driven by brands having to overcome bad/rude service with subsequent caring service.

Even at the smallest local business level, caring policies and initiatives that generate kindness are within reach, with Gallup reporting that SMBs have America’s happiest and most engaged workers. Check out Forbes list of the best small companies of 2019 and note the repeated emphasis on employee satisfaction.

Kindness as currency, with limitless growth potential

“I wanted a tangible item that could track acts of kindness. From that, the Butterfly Coin emerged.” Bruce Pedersen, Butterfly Coins

Maybe someday, you’ll be the lucky recipient of a Butterfly Coin, equipped with a unique tracking code, and gifted to you by someone doing a kind act. Then, you’ll do something nice for somebody and pass it on, recording your story amongst thousands of others around the world. People, it seems, are so eager for tokens of kindness that the first mint sold out almost immediately.

The butterfly effect (the inspiration for the name of these coins) in chaos theory holds that a small action can trigger multiple subsequent actions at a remove. In a local business setting, an owner could publicly reward an employee’s contributions, which could cause the employee to spread their extra happiness to twenty customers that day, which could cause those customers to be in a mood to tip waitstaff extra, which could cause the waitstaff to comp meals for hungry neighbors sitting on their doorsteps, and on and on it goes.

There’s an artisan in Gig Harbor, WA who rewards kindnesses via turtle figurines. There are local newspapers that solicit stories of kindness. There are towns that have inaugurated acts-of-kindness weeks. There is even a suburb in Phoenix, AZ that re-dubbed itself Kindness, USA. (I mentioned, I’ve been keeping a file).

The most priceless aspect of kindness is that it’s virtually limitless. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be quantified. The Butterfly Coin idea is attempting to track kindness, and as a local business owner, you have a practical means of parsing it, too. It will turn up in unstructured citations, reviews, and social media, if you originate it at the leadership level, and share it out from employee to customer with an open hand.