Businesses Need to Change to Embrace Influencer Marketing

By Laura StotlerShaping Influence Contributing Editor

Perhaps it can be boiled down to old school, outdated thinking, a reluctance to embrace change or resistance to the power of social media. But despite the proven benefits of social influencers and influencer marketing, new research findings show that a mere five percent of enterprises have actually integrated influencer marketing into their regular practices and campaigns.

Top Rank Marketing, in cooperation with Traacker, a company that provides an influencer management platform, have announced findings on the state of influencer marketing in business. The companies polled brand strategists and marketers from companies as wide ranging as Microsoft and AWS, American Express and 3M. They found that while 71 percent of marketers believe influencer marketing is strategic and even highly strategic, only 28 percent of decision makers involve influencers at the campaign level. And 43 percent of marketers are “experimenting” with influencer marketing, even though 83 percent believe it’s a top priority to identify and build relationships with key influencers.

The findings show a strong disconnect between the proven and perceived benefits of influencer marketing and actual execution. Some of this may be put down to budget, since an average of only 10 percent of overall marketing budgets is allocated to influencer marketing. And half of the marketers queried allocate $100,000 annually to influencer marketing, severely limiting actual implementation and practice.

There also appears to be some confusion about how influencer marketing should be implemented and by whom. The researchers found that 16 percent of marketers believed PR departments were in charge of influencer marketing, and yet 65 percent reported that PR had rolled out campaigns against influencer marketing initiatives. Even so, 94 percent of marketers want to explore influencer marketing for improving brand accuracy, while 92 percent are interested in using it for brand awareness.

What is clear is that just as businesses are undergoing a digital transformation as they embrace and take advantage of new technologies and communication and collaboration tools, marketing practices must undergo a similar transformation. To take full advantage of the potential of influencer marketing, businesses need to allocate budget, resources and time to fully explore this new area of brand promotion and awareness.

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