Influence means nothing without trust

By IBM Watson Advertising

Contributing author: Dave Neway, Head of B2B Marketing, Watson Advertising and Weather

What is influencer marketing: Strategies to build trust

To get back to basics, influencer marketing leverages the reach of an existing market leader  who has built a strong brand reputation and large following. By partnering with a credible influencer, your company can connect with your target audience to build trust and increase brand awareness.

Why trust matters

Recent events have shown how deeply voices matter. In response, brands have not only rethought how they market in a tone-appropriate manner, but they've also had to become more strategic and selective in seeking out the voices that best reflect their values.

Choosing the right influencer can help drive positive change and instill/restore trust between brands and consumers. But in this current environment where nearly everyone seems to be an expert (or wants to be) and fake followers loom large, aligning with trusted talent can constitute a major challenge. Selecting the wrong influencer can erode trust between brands and consumers, which may be harder to mitigate than the impact to the bottom line.

Choosing wisely isn’t simple. People with the most followers command a hefty price for a single tweet. Microinfluencers might be more economical, but how can you be sure they’re reaching the right demographic for your brand? Are they actually driving sales? Is their audience even composed of real people? Can you guarantee that their behaviors and speech align with your brand’s values?

Using influencer advertising and AI to find your voice

Social influencer marketing and advertising now commands significant budget spend for forward-looking brands. But selection remains an imperfect practice.

IBM Watson Advertising Social Targeting with Influential empowers brands to put smart to work in the influencer marketing arena, leveraging Watson to sort through thousands of potential influencers, read and analyze millions of social posts, understand their sentiment and tone, and determine whether their followers are real people.

The solution draws from Influential’s invite-only network of over 500,000 influencers that currently reach more than 5 billion followers across social media. Candidates are evaluated using background checks, motor vehicle reports, profanity ratings and more to help expedite the process of identifying a brand-appropriate influencer. Advanced AI technologies such as natural language processing, tone analyzer and personality insights help you better understand the person’s online presence – and that of their audience – so you can determine, for example, if the influencer may be too aggressive or too passive for your brand identity. The solution is also designed to avoid followings dominated by invalid traffic or bots.

Once an influencer is selected, timed messages are set up to facilitate a consistent drum beat throughout the campaign, helping you reach real people at the right time. Social Targeting with Influential is also designed to show end-to-end attribution and real purchase data that indicates whether an influencer marketing strategy actually supported your desired outcomes so you can improve future campaigns.

These capabilities help you foster more authentic interactions with your audience, reduce waste in your media spend, and drive engagement and conversion in a competitive digital landscape.

Bridging the trust gap in social influencer marketing

It seems like everywhere we turn, things are breaking down; constructs are being dismantled, and our society is pressure-tested in ways we couldn’t have imagined even a year ago. Our industry, markets and society are experiencing a trust gap as Black Lives Matter and other much-needed reform efforts around equality gain traction.

In the advertising industry, consumers are concerned about whether content is real or fraudulent, how data is being used and the opportunistic ways in which some brands market to them. Brands have their own misgivings as well. They are equally suspect of the industry on which they depend to reach consumers and are fighting a veritable trifecta of headwinds with increasing regulation, driving results with cost transparency and deepening consumer trust and relationships.

Trust is foundational to IBM and how we engage with our clients. We believe technology should be used for good and support our colleagues whose voices have been underrepresented or marginalized. It’s time to find the voices that matter and amplify them at a massive scale. IBM AI technology can help with that ambition.

Are you ready to see how AI can help strengthen your brand credibility? Visit the IBM Watson Advertising Social Targeting with Influential webpage.