Four KPIs for influence: Response, education, relationships and exploitation?
How can communications managers make the case for a more holistic approach which involves the whole story and the broad audience? UK-headquartered marketing consultants Loudhouse recently hosted an ‘innovation cafe; where a senior group of communications managers compared notes on how narrowly-focussed analyst relations programmes has broadened into influencer dialogue. Loudhouse’s consultancy director Duncan Chapple, an Inzeption fellow, moderated the discussion. His colleague Nicola Stuber’s report, published on the Loudhouse blog and republished below, summarises many of the issues facing communications managers, especially in business-to-business markets.
Loudhouse’s first Innovation Cafe, was a resounding success – the Innovation Cafe was set up to provide a unique space for us to get together with our friends and talk frankly about new marketing challenges sharing our ideas and experiences. It was such a success, that we are looking forward to hosting the next one in the coming weeks!
The first topic for our cafe focussed on Influencer Relations. It was introduced by Agi Donnithorne, our resident expert in creating influencer marketing programmes. As a starting point for discussion, we showcased our map of influencer channels, discovered through previous Loudhouse research in the technology sector, which shows the relative strengths of their influence. This quickly prompted discussion around our clients’ experiences of conducting influencer programmes.
Conducting an influencer programme does not come without its challenges, and the discussion highlighted several ways in which our clients had experienced difficulties and also ways in which they have managed these difficulties or would manage them in the future.
The main challenge in conducting influencer programmes is the difficulty in measuring its progress and success. Using KPIs is of course a useful tool to measure success, but which KPIs are best to measure? A helpful way to track the status of the influencer programme is by organising it around a matrix of 4 key goals;
- Respond – responding to requests to complete research surveys, so that you have some control over the outcome of the survey and its’ potential influence
- Educate – speaking to the right influencers
- Relate – putting on networking events so that influencers from different channels can get together
- Exploit – tailoring influencer messages to specific influencers, for a specific aim (e.g. to win a bid).
Cultural variations by country and type of organisation
Influencer programmes take place across different regions and across different types of organisations, so it is clear that a ‘one-size fits all’ approach is not ideal. For example, in Germany, influencers tend to be fast to respond and are well-engaged, whereas in Spain the influencers tend to take a more relaxed attitude.
There also needs to be an awareness of cultural difference by organisations, particularly around the planning of timescales. For example, there are slower businesses (those who make decisions on perhaps a quarterly or bi-annual basis) and faster businesses (those who need quick wins, such as in a monthly sales environment which is based on short term commission).
Getting the messages right
The channels and messages need to be inline with the different countries and business cultures, but to get this right, there is huge benefit to be gained by piloting one region at a time. Then take stock of these experiences to re-tailor the messages rather than run the risk of rolling out a whole influencer programme with the wrong messages!
The domino effect
The effect of an influencer programme can be magnified by encouraging partnerships to develop with the influencers, leading to greater engagement and, in turn, a greater likelihood that analysts will recommend a new product or service. With such confident recommendations, they can become strong ambassadors.
So, where to next?
The discussion highlighted the potential power and impact that social media can have as a tool of influence – partly due to its instant nature and wide reach, but also the interconnectedness of niche communities through different channels of social media, such as twitter, blogs and Linkedin. Social media will be our next topic for the Innovation cafe. We look forward to you joining us!