Why You Need to Be an Influencer Brand and the 3 Rs of Becoming One
To intersect the customer journey, you need more than content and influencer marketing. You need to become an influencer brand.
The "three Rs "concept has arisen around the idea of influence in the social media age. Brian Solis was one of the first to propose this concept as the three pillars of influence to measure the rise of the digital influence of individuals. For years, influencer marketers and agencies have recommended relevance, reach and resonance as criteria for selecting influencers for brands, but experts suggest that it could be evolving into a new way to guide brands' digital marketing content. Hootsuite describes the three Rs of influence as:
Relevance: The influencer shares content relevant to your business and industry
Reach: The number of people that can be reached through the influencer's follower base
Resonance: The level of engagement an influencer can create with an audience relevant to your brand.
These criteria are for selecting the right influencer, but what if marketers used them to shape their marketing communications? Could the brand become the influencer?
The benefits of being an influencer brand
Today, over 60% of media consumption is through fragmented digital media versus traditional mass media. In this age of voluntary engagement, it has become harder to interrupt the customer journey. It's not enough to reach the audience through other content creators. An influencer is simply someone who can influence others by being a social content creator to build an audience. A brand with the right content and a genuine, timely response can build its own dedicated and engaged groups of followers. Some brands have already done this very well, but it has taken a shift in mindset.
Of course, brands creating content has been around for decades. Content marketing is creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract/retain an audience, driving profitable action. The difference is that influencer brands have shifted their entire orientation to a consumer-centric integrated marketing communications (IMC) mindset. Influencer brands go beyond blogs, infographics, eBooks, testimonials, and how-to guides that appeal to the head. They have learned to appeal to the heart of their audience.
This comes from seeing the world from the target's perspective. A shift that can be seen following the three Rs of influence to direct brand content creation. For example, the focus of Yeti Coolers' content and engagement isn't selling coolers. It is selling a lifestyle that the coolers help enable. For example, they organize products so customers can shop by activity. Images and copy lead with stories of the adventures their audience can have with the gear — fishing, hunting, camping, by the coast, in the snow, on the ranch and in the rodeo arena.
The bread and butter of brand content marketing are white papers, educational eBooks, and tutorial videos. Yeti lets it audience feast on coffee table books, celebrating whitewater rapids, films documenting brand ambassadors competing in 260+ mile canoe races and fly-fishing guides hosting podcasts. Yeti Stories are not full of stats, specs and sales promos on their coolers. They are inspiring stories of their audience's life.
But that's not the entire plot to their marketing story. The story's ultimate end is purchase, and to do that, they must speak to the head as well. Yeti delivers plenty of information on the built-tough construction, legendary performance, smart design and long-lasting warranty of their products. Heart alone doesn't justify a $300-$400 cooler. They have sales, contests and promotions to urge purchase, but they lead with the stories inspired by their audience.
So, how do you become an influencer brand? Practice consumer-centric IMC that takes a story perspective. To do this, consider the three Rs as a target for brand content and engagement. Brands that take a storyteller approach through the three Rs can become an influencer, building relationships around brand communities.
Relevance becomes sharing stories relevant to your business and industry — what is pertinent to the market. This is the cost of entry for having your story recognized as on the right subject. Fitness brands like CrossFit or Life Time create verbal messages, visual messages and brand stories about working out and fitness. They don't create stories about financial planning, vacations or electric vehicles. No company has the resources to reach everyone in a market, and broad messages tend to fail. Markets are segmented, a target is selected, and the product is positioned to them.
Reach is the number of people of a defined population exposed to the message. Reach is getting the brand story to the target audience. Life Time and Yeti Coolers place brand messages (paid, earned, shared, owned) in media frequently read and viewed by their target audience. Not everyone who receives the message responds or responds equally. A brand's best customers are the most loyal fans and vocal advocates. Brand advocates engage and share your brand's content, because it resonates with them, not because you paid an influencer to talk about it. The brand is the content creator and influencer in the community.
Resonance is engagement generated through the prolonging of a message by reflection and amplification. When a message resonates with someone, they want to share it as a signal of their identity to a group, reaching others in the market. Focusing brand content on stories that resonate with your target audience adds momentum to the message. The brand's social identity matches the buyer's social identity, and the brand becomes the influencer in social media.
The stories you tell in the brand content you create, and the genuine interactions you have, attracts and retains an audience, creating bonded customers to drive profitable action. That's what it means to be an influencer brand. That's why Yeti is more than a cooler. It is #BuiltForTheWild. That's why Life Time is more than a gym. IT is a way for you to #LoveYourLife. Think about how you can evolve your content marketing into more of an influencer brand from a consumer-centric mindset.
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