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Bloggers Are The New “Word-Of-Mouth”
When I first moved to Salt Lake City, finding a new hairstylist was a nightmare. I’d been with mine for more than six years before I moved from San Francisco, and up until I moved she was the only person I trusted with my hair. I even joked about flying out to see her every three months.
Then I moved to Salt Lake City where a succession of stylists proceeded to cut it too short, color it too blonde, and bleach it too repeatedly, damaging my once lustrous locks beyond repair. At one point, a stylist ran her fingers through my hair post-peroxide (!!) only to have a huge clump of it melt off into her hand (traumatizing I know).
How A Blogger Saved My… Hair
Then a small ray of hope. My favorite fashion blogger (and hair icon) Kim Jacobson published a post to Instagram. “Nothing better than a fresh haircut…” She said, “Thanks to my girl Parker @LandisSalon for always taking care of these locks!”
“Landis Salon?” I thought. I knew that place!!! Though I hadn’t realized it up until that post, Kim was a local and the salon was only a ten-minute drive from where I lived. I immediately called up the salon and made an appointment with Parker.
It’s a happily ever after story. I am now a devotee to Parker at Landis Salon and my hair is on the mend because of it. But I never would have found her if it weren’t for that one Instagram post. If it weren’t for that one influencer.
Bloggers Are The New “Word-Of-Mouth”
Influencer marketing is an old idea turned new. It’s “word-of-mouth” marketing but fashioned in a new fangled way. Instead of friends and relatives giving us advice we look to the experts. People we see as the go-to resource on a given topic. And thanks to social media, we can follow those influencers, learn from them, and ultimately buy from them.
This is something the makeup industry has done for years. In the Wall Street Journal Article, The Internet’s Top 10 Word-Of-Mouth Beauty Products the author touts the benefits of bloggers in the opening line: “Estée Lauder and Emily Weiss have something in common: the belief that there’s no better endorsement for a miracle cream than one from a peer.”
They’re right. Emily Weiss is the founder and CEO of Glossier, a beauty brand that launched out of the popularity of her blog Into The Gloss, and her company has grown by more than 500% in the past year. As it says in the article, “Ms. Weiss is so convinced of the power of grass-roots communication that for Glossier’s latest launch… she asked 150 members of her ‘community’—a mix of top customers and commenters on Into the Gloss—to spread the news via their social networks.”
It worked. Without spending valuable resources on advertising spreads or marketing campaigns, Emily was able to rally a community to her cause. And Glossier flourished as a result.
Channel Partners Are The New Affiliate Advertisers
But you don’t have to be a beauty blogger to get in on influencer marketing. In fact, the method is just as viable of a strategy in B2B sales or marketing. The channels may be different (LinkedIn, Twitter, & YouTube instead of Instagram and Snapchat) but the results are the same: humans trust influencers more than they trust brands. All you have to do is identify who they key influencers are in your target market, then give them easy access to your product and a reason to share it.
Fashion bloggers do this via an affiliate program. If a blogger models a black dress from Nordstrom on her blog and a reader clicks on that link and purchases it from Nordstrom, the blogger gets a percentage of the sale. This ensures that the blogger has a reason to promote the dress (i.e. the financial incentive, and probably the free dress) and it ensures that the retailer receives more business (i.e. the readers of particularly relevant blogs).
This is very similar to the B2B channel partner strategy. As with affiliate advertising, channel partners get a cut of the sale every time they sell a partner’s product. A partner selling one of Dell EMC’s products through their new channel program, for example.
Whether you are working with a B2B or B2C company, the benefits are clear: you need to get other people (not your brand) talking about you. Even if that means starting with your very own employees. If you work in sales, start a social selling strategy. If you work in marketing, get on the employee advocacy bandwagon. When you do, it expands your marketing reach exponentially and opens you up to business you might not receive if you’re merely a voice crying out in the wilderness.
Elle Griffin is the Head of Marketing at EveryoneSocial and Host of the Careerist Podcast. She spent six years as a marketing executive in Silicon Valley after leaving the fashion industry to pursue technology. She can be found at ElleGriffin.com.