A Modern Manifesto for Marketers

It is hard to be a brand marketer in 2016.

Here’s why:

Americans now spend 1.7 hours per day on social media. That’s more than email and search engines combined. 92 million Millennials, the largest generation ever, just entered their prime spending years. As a result, we’ve become a society whose purchase behavior has become heavily influenced by those we choose to connect with on social networks. We’ve also entered an age where the consumer is in the driver seat, sharing experiences and expectations that brands can no longer ignore. Add to that ad fatigue, fraud or blockers… and you begin to see just how hard it is to be a modern day marketer. It used to be easy for brands to buy fame, but in the age of social media they need to earn it.

It is time for brand marketers to invest in a new playbook. One that is built on trust, and rooted in the power of human-to-human relationships at scale. Fortunately for marketers, consumers now have a massive amount of social capital for brands to tap and earn back their fame.

Since the dawn of marketing, word-of-mouth has always been the most effective way to promote your business. McKinsey tells us word-of-mouth is 50 times more likely to trigger a purchase than an ad. Nielsen says that 83% of people trust recommendations from others they know. However, executing word-of-mouth at scale was always harder than buying an ad, until now. Influencer marketing has evolved to become programmatic, enabling word-of-mouth at scale, and it’s all thanks to the rise of the micro-influencer.

For consumer brands, the most valuable marketing asset has always been their existing consumer base. However, in today’s hyper-connected world, not all consumers are created equal. The mass adoption of social networks into our daily routines has resulted in the proliferation of social capital, which may very well be worth more than the capital in your wallet. On average, 9% of a brand’s existing consumer base consists of everyday consumers who organically engage a high percentage of their 1,000 to 5,000 friends around relevant topics in a trusted way. At Mavrck, we call these individuals micro-influencers.

A well known example of a micro-influencer strategy at work is Reebok’s use of crossfitters. Once struggling to stay relevant, Reebok rebuilt its brand by tapping into Crossfit’s passionate subculture of everyday people who spread their philosophy like wildfire. Now what marketer wouldn’t want their own army of crossfitters influencing friends around their brand?

Unlike traditional influencers, bloggers or social media stars, harnessing the power of micro-influencers can be tricky. Discovering who they are, and activating millions of them to create branded content across social networks can’t be done with spreadsheets or email. You need software, and access to a lot of social data. It is also best executed within an existing brand experiences, like a mobile app, ecommerce website or loyalty program. When done at scale, activating micro-influencers results in more than just impressions or engagements, but also conversions. On average, one micro-influencer will get three friends to convert around a brand’s marketing objective.

Ultimately, brand marketers should be looking for ways to leverage the social capital of existing consumers across the entire consumer experience journey. Those who do will rise above the noise through marketing people actually trust, and the win battle for the modern consumer. And who knows, they might even reduce their brand’s dependence on ads that interrupt the content consumers really enjoy.