Building brands with digital in the core! (1) – Influence

Today, brands face a huge challenge! Sticking out! Back in the days (and those days are not so long ago 10 to 15 years) a good product would sell by itself. With the support of traditional media channels (TV, Radio, Newspapers and Mail) you would create awareness regarding your astonishing product and attract your customer into the traditional marketing funnel (awareness, interest, desire & action).
Today your product (and brand) face a different challenge.  Changed media usage, and a huge overflow of information makes it hard for a brand to stick out or get noticed.

Your customer forces your brand to be rebuild with digital in the core. Digital will enable your brand to reach it’s customers (again) and get your (brand) purpose across. 

To understand how digital (social) media you need to understand how the social graph works.
Your customer operates in a social graph in which he get’s influenced regarding he’s commercial behavior.
 The social graph maps every person’s connections to one another and he’s relation to those persons.  An average social graph (of a human being) consists of 4 groups of people (based on family, shared experience and/or life-stage) and holds between 50 to 150 relations.  5 of those relations are ‘strong ties’. These unidirectional  strong ties are people who influence you, and support your commercial behavior.  Most of the time these are like minded people. Therefor your ‘weak ties‘ come in to feed you with (the) new(est) information.  
A brand should focus on how to reach out to those people who are of influence of you.
The old celebrity influence model is out, since they’re not part of an average social graph.  The new influence model focusses on (average) people who are of influence in their netwerk. Home bloggers can be called a good examples of influencers in an average network.  
Average people reflect to them as if it could be themselves, and are therefor influenced.  Your brand could work out small campaigns in support of those home bloggers to get there brand (product) across.  A PR-model approach were you feed bloggers incentives to write about is.

I’m not a believer of paid (corporate) bloggers, although you can give them full blogging freedom, once there is a payment involved it gets hard to maintain authentic (not to say objective).  Campaigns in which you stimulate bloggers to try out your product/brand are more authentic and don’t get those home bloggers in an awkward situation where they feel obliged to write in favor of your brand.  
Finally your customer will be the ultimate judge….home bloggers are those judges, use them that way.  People are best influenced by peers! Best that these peers are part of your earned media channels, instead of your owned paid media channels.

 Have an active policy on detecting earned media channels (home bloggers). Once you’ve detected them connect on a low level base to inform them about your campaign.  A campaign page (as owned media channel) can inform your home bloggers on what’s it all about (the product, the campaign, …). Once they’re connected (and ask you to be part of the campaign, you send them your product to try and (hopefully) blog about it.  Share they’re story on your campaign page as support for the blogger…even if it’s a critical one!  Learn from those and make it better!

In a digital world your customer always comes first….tread your blogger as a customer! Listen, and try so serve him the best way possible!

Case – Hunkemoller ambassadors

A small request on the page was all it took for 21 young bloggers. 10 were selected and got treated with a private VIP shopping night at the Antwerp flagship store (Meir). After a fun night out the alle returned home with 2 new pair of undies!
Each season Hunkemoller detects a couple of young home bloggers to become Hunkemoller ambassadors.  No big names, no big followers list, … but 10 youngsters on the verge of becoming influential bloggers. 
After this amazing evening they already started to showcase their goodies on Instagram, Facebook, … All proud of becoming a Hunkemoller ambassador….a small gift with a big effect!
Is your brand next?

The linked slide-deck explains how the communication paradigm has changed, and how the social graph works.  Later on it zooms in on how the social graph can create social super powers with cases from Telenet, the Belgian Red Devils and Nokia.  The last part is about influence in the digital age with the explanation of the strength of the weak ties.

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Posted in Flat Business

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