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I joined Traackr for the first time four years ago. I walked into this burgeoning field called influencer marketing, and despite its newness, the concept made complete sense to me because it aligned with a trend I felt had been brewing for quite some time.
About a decade ago, I wrote a master's research paper dramatically titled, The Evolution of Capitalism: Towards Authenticity. No matter how idealist that sounds to you, what I was trying to capture was the same change that’s been keeping executives up all night: our world is changing and the business strategies and marketing approaches of the past are outdated, outperformed, and now even outed from our customers’ lives.
Most marketers and communicators knew this was coming and the frontrunners were the ones Traackr was speaking with at that time.
There was a general feeling that this influencer marketing thing was part of the future. Our customers were seeking real connections with brands and real content that added value to their lives.
Back then, our customers were primarily innovative agencies who recognized online conversations were becoming as influential as any other type of channel available. These leaders were part of a shared movement to reposition marketing away from broadcasting controlled messages to collaborating with passionate people relevant to a brand.
One of my first major projects at Traackr in 2012 was to produce the Guide to Influencer Marketing. When I arrived at the company, our sales team was literally begging for content to answer the question: “I feel like influencer marketing is important, but how do I get started?”
We had a great solution to a problem people felt like they should solve, but they didn’t have the budget, buy-in, and in many cases skills required to execute an influencer marketing program. It was as if we had built the CRM before companies had sales departments.
In internet years*, it’s been over 80 years since we published the original guide; and it’s fair to say the space has evolved substantially. Over this internet century, we’ve seen massive successes and failures. As with most hard things, there is always a group that shows up claiming to have the secret easy sauce.
We witnessed the hope in influencer marketplaces rise and crash. The recent Fyre Festival is the perfect example, but there are many more, less flashy examples to be seen on any given day. What we refer to as influencer endorsements is the equivalent of the cascading pop-up ads that drive us all nuts.
*Generally agreed to be 20 years per standard Earth year.
Buying mentions or pushing copy on people with large social media audiences can only go so far. Your audiences are savvy. They ignore influencer advertising as easily as they skip an ad.
The true power of influencer marketing is unlocked when your organization dedicates resources to building relationships with individuals who shape the conversations that matter to your brand and drive your business.
The original guide was a collection of 15 use cases. Many of them were actual use cases we saw first hand as we supported our early customers through their first implementations of influencer marketing. Even then, we knew influencer marketing was well suited to be a cross-functional, uniting initiative within organizations that could break down silos, contribute to sales and even R&D. But we didn’t have experience to explain exactly how you would go about that.
Three months ago, I became Traackr’s second boomerang. It’s rare for anyone to return to the same employer even once in their career, but for Traackr to have such a strong pull as to have brought two of us back in its relatively short existence says a lot about how great this place is to work.
One of the first things I did was team up with Tatiana Beale, our Head of Content, to revisit the Guide to Influencer Marketing and today we’re launching what we affectionately call The Beast.
Looking at the new guide, I have that slightly embarrassed feeling one gets when they look back at their early work. But hey, as Reid Hoffman famously quipped, “if you aren’t embarrassed by your product when you launch, you launched too late.”
The spirit of the new
Instead of use cases (which you can still find here), you’ll find a thorough explanation of how to:
This guide is a roadmap for customer-centric marketers who want to build an influencer marketing practice within their enterprise. We still hear a similar challenge to the one we heard four years ago, with one main distinction, “I know influencer marketing is important, but I don't know how to start.”
If this is you, this guide is your blueprint.
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