Apr 16, 2018 / in Comms Best Practices / by Tony Hardman

Creating awareness for a brand has always been a challenge. Today, it's even harder because tons of content is published every second, of every day. Standing out in a sea of noise has become incredibly difficult. To combat this problem, communications pros are turning towards influencer marketing to amplify their message. Considering that 70 percent of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers, it's no wonder why. Unfortunately, influencer marketing isn't a silver bullet, and comms pros have a lot to learn to make sure their influencer campaigns are more effective.

So, what is the biggest problem with influencer marketing? In his latest video, Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert and New York Times bestselling author answers this question and offers a solution. Check out the video or read the transcript below.

Want to earn results with influencers? Download our free guide, How to Succeed With Influencer Marketing!

Jay Baer: Raise your hand if you're having trouble getting eyeballs on your content marketing. Just about everyone.

More content is being created than ever before by more companies. This intense competition is compounded with consumer fatigue and the utter collapse of organic social media effectiveness to create a perfect storm whereby we have tons of great content, but we struggle to amplify them, and this is why influencer marketing is as hot as a chicken nugget fryer at McDonald's.

I'm Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert, New York Times bestselling author, digital business celebrity and friend of Cision, and I'm here to get into some truths about influencer marketing.

Companies of every size or shape and description are trying to use "influencers" as a way to distribute their content because company-led distribution mechanisms are either ineffective or expensive or, in many cases, both, and there is a lot of wisdom in that approach at least in theory.

People have the power now. We trust one another far more than we trust companies, and research shows that trust in companies continues to decline year over years. If you can get a real human being to tell their friends, their fans, their followers that your company has something worthwhile to say, that may, in fact, carry more weight than if your company said the exact same thing, and working with influencers is relatively inexpensive in terms of message dissemination. You don't have to produce a ton of creative to work with influencers because they are the ones that often do the creative heavy-lifting, but here's the problem.

See, many marketers, not you necessarily, but many are lazy. They want influencer marketing to work just like a Google page search ad. Just upload a credit and, presto, website traffic comes out the other end like Dr. Seuss' magical Star-Belly machine. That's a Sneetches reference there for you, ladies and gentlemen. Sneetches.

It's not that easy. See, you are convincing real people to tell other real people that whatever you're doing is worthy of their time and attention. That's not a one-click process, and it probably shouldn't be.

As I see it, the biggest problem with influencer marketing today is that lots of companies are making the same mistake, which is confusing influence and audience. I mean, what is influence really? I mean, to me, it's the ability to create behavior change amongst a group of people.

For you, in a marketing context, that behavior change might consist of a website visit, a download, maybe even a purchase, but, too often, brands are just doing some quick research on Twitter or Instagram and pulling out some big names and assuming that, because those folks have a lot of followers, they can create behavior change amongst target consumers. Now, it might work, but usually, it doesn't, unless you have a really, really broad audience for your goods and services.

Influence is topical. Influence is circumstantial, so, in almost every case, companies would be better off digging a little deeper and finding the influencers that might have a smaller audience overall, but are more authoritative in the relevant category.

People listen to me about marketing and communications and customer service and word of mouth. People even listen to me about tequila and about barbecue, two of my hobbies, but if you're trying to get more exposure for your YouTube series on how to be a better auto mechanic, I probably can't move the needle for you even though I have a lot of followers.

Influencer marketing is not easy. It takes real work and real research to find the right people. Don't be seduced by the shortcuts. Use tools like Cision's "talking about" search to help you discover a list of ranked social media influencers based on any topic you choose, influencers that can actually impact the customers that you care about.

I'm Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. Thanks for listening.

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About Tony Hardman

Anthony Hardman is a senior content editor for Cision. He has more than 10 years of combined experience in broadcast news, public relations, inbound and content marketing. Connect with him on Twitter: @ahardman or LinkedIn.