This week on Brand Storytelling we spoke to Tim Wililams, the CEO of Onalytica. Onalytica is an influencer marketing platform based in London. They help brands and agencies identify and connect with relevant social influencers.
Influencer marketing delivers 2x more sales than paid advertsising. Find out why, and how it works together with great content to build growth and revenue for brands.
Rakhal Ebeli: Such a big part of influencer in marketing, I imagine, is based on relationships. Is that what drives you in this part of marketing, this world that you play in?
Tim Williams: Yes. I think it’s a fascinating space. I get bored by the status quo. I think that marketing, communications, and PR are great disciplines, but they need to evolve so fast in this day and age. I think it’s marketing gold to be able to find 20 or 30 people sometimes, that could really power your message more effectively than spending a lot of money on broadcast marketing. I think it’s a really cool concept. I think when people do it right, then they really drive efficacy and wonderful results in terms of marketing. I think it’s the future. I think it’s where everyone’s going. Media relations or marketing evolving into influencer relations. I think that it’s an exciting place to be in.
Rakhal Ebeli: Influencer in marketing is clearly really big right now, in many different industries. I think some people out there are still a bit confused about what exactly it is. Can you give us the influencer marketing elevator pitch?
Tim Williams: We provide software within the confluence of content marketing and influencer marketing. I think that these phrases have been coined, and sometimes they are quite generic. They mean different things to different people. Our definition of influencer marketing is the practice of marketing to people that have an influence over buying decisions, or potential behavioral changes in outcomes. It means different things to different people. Essentially a bunch of people that can affect change on your behalf, and really influence your target audience, whoever that is.
Rakhal Ebeli: Got it. I guess just to back up what you’re saying, I’ve got some stats here that really go to the point. 81% of consumers trust the information they read on blogs. 91% of people trust recommendations from other people over brands themselves. 61% of consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post they have read recently. It comes down to understanding people, right. Understanding the consumer?
Tim Williams: Exactly. I think that its all about trust. It’s about scaling influence within a marketplace. If you’re authentic, if you’ve got great content, if you’ve got a great story to tell, then it takes mass amounts of money and resources to be able to tell that one to one, or one to many. If you gauge well with influencers and they believe in what you’re doing, then suddenly you’ve got a massive third party sales force to promulgate that message to your audience.
Rakhal Ebeli: People trust other people that they know or respect or have some kind of bond with. They’re probably more likely to take their recommendations, consume their content, follow their trends, and ultimately buy what they buy. I guess decades of misleading advertising and marketing has made people a little more skeptical about brands. What do you think?
Tim Williams: I think that’s right. I think it’s the plethora of online commentators now. There are so many people producing content. Every brand is a commentator. Every consumer is a commentator on social media. With this multitude of conversations, it’s clearly important to cut through and I think a lot of people are still not that focused in how they’re targeting their marketing efforts. I think to be able to do some due diligence on your marketplace, identify the social influencers that really have an influence over your audience, and then be able to utilize them is critical to most brands.
Rakhal Ebeli: A big part of the way you guys at Onalytica identify those influencers is actually through analyzing content. Tell us how that works?
Tim Williams: We have a number of ways of identifying influencers. One of which is analyzing the key words in a brand piece of content and matching that to social influencers, signitures if you like. We create signiatures for each particular social influencer, which is basically a summary of what they’ve been saying over the last 12 months. By matching that summary against the piece of content, you can surface the most relevant influences to potentially share your content with.
Rakhal Ebeli: Right. You would tag them in the content as a brand, in a simple way. How would you describe the way that you would engage them?
Tim Williams: In terms of engaging the influencers, then I think it does depend on the influence of groups that come back. Some of our clients break down the influencers into journalists, analysts, sometimes mums, obviously they’re very influential in consumer situations and consumer household spending. They could be academics or health care professionals. Brands choose their own messages to the different influencer groups, and that preambles how they will engage with them. Sometimes it’s technical content, sometimes its more cool content that they want the audience to share. It really does depend on upon the brand and teh audience.
Rakhal Ebeli: Sure. What about the seeding function of Onalytica. Is that basically just another means for brands to distribute their content? How does that work between the brand, the platform, the influences, and ultimately the audience?
Tim Williams: In our enterprise software, what we do is we run programs for sometimes up to 2,000 influencers. The whole point of what we’re trying to enable brands to do is within 15-20 minutes per day, identify the key content sharing opportunities, by looking at what influences a posting and being able to drive contextual communications. For example, if you’re a brand like Microsoft and someone’s talking about potentially laptops, or mobile phones, or devices, then you can jump into the conversation at the relevant time.
Rakhal Ebeli: You’re actually jumping into trends and conversations that are relevant to what you’re doing. That takes me to my next point. What do you make of the trend to start paying influencers on social platforms. Do you think that really does sully the industry of influence of marketing.
Tim Williams: I think that’s a very good question. We believe in organic social outreach and that’s at the heart of what we do. We do think there is a place for pain. When looking at the most successful practitioners in our industry, I think they use a combination of both. When using the Twitter for Business application, you can identify the top 500 social influencers. You can promote tweets within the top 500 names. I think that does have it’s place when you don’t have too many resources to outreach I think it’s also about creating those authentic relationships and getting the relationship to go from online to offline as soon as possible. Social media is very affective.
Identifying the influences and knowing when to contact them. Inviting them to a fence, and really building those relationships, I think works really well for those brands.
Rakhal Ebeli: Right. It’s an organic and a genuine relationship. As opposed to perhaps, we need 20 tweets put out by influencers on the latest campaign and we’ll pay you $1000 to distribute that messaging. Which I think it can be a challenge if social media is set up as a transparent platform for communication. I don’t think too many fans of influencers are going to be wanted to be bombarded with paid messaging. Is that something you would agree with or do you have a fear that that might degrade that market?
Tim Williams: I think that is one of fears. I think we are aware of the fact that consumers wouldn’t want that to continue. We are also mindful that brands don’t have unlimited resource. I think that it’s just something that’s going to happen, unless people increase their budgets, and resources in the influencer the marketing area. I would hope that in the next few years, that more budgets will be associated with influencer marketing. More resource would be over utilizing this particular way of leveraging social influence. I think that would improve matters. Equally on the other side it is getting more complex to know which influencers are paid or which influences would be better to leverage in an organic place. I think it becomes a bit more of a challenge for marketers in general.
Rakhal Ebeli: All right. We’ll get into that in just a moment. You have some pretty impressive clients and in a minute we’ll also start talking about one of them is a case study and really flesh out this whole influence of marketing things for everyone who’s still unsure….