Innovation in influencer, advocacy, and community marketing: the IMC’s first four months

The Influence Marketing Council kicked off in January 2017 with a group of tech companies keenly aware that the marketing has shifted, and that the customer journey is increasingly mediated through peers and influencers.

Special thanks go to our founding members Cohesity, Dell EMC, HPE, VMware, NetApp, Scale Computing, VMware and we’ve been grateful to welcome several more — Big Switch Networks, Datrium, Druva, and Equinix.

B2B tech companies have unique influence marketing opportunities because they can form deep professional relationships that affect people’s careers.

Opportunities high and low

Innovation in marketing. Influence marketing can be a game changer — why are some brands loved and some ignored? Increasingly, we can see the direct effect of relationship-based marketing on both the brand and the business. How can B2B tech companies innovate in directly connecting with people in their complex industry ecosystems and providing authentic, win-win experiences?

Tactics and strategies that work in 2017. But when your boss tells you to create an influence marketing program, how do you go about it? This area is constantly evolving, and a playbook from the early days of social media won’t work today. How do you define success, let alone measure it, and what are the tactics and strategies to make your program successful on your own terms and to add real value across your business?

Highlights of our first four months

Member Calls

Each month the council comes together in an online video conference where we get to talk with industry influencers and experts.

Amy Lewis, Director of Influence Marketing for NetApp, has a unique team that combines social media, advocacy, influencer, and community-based marketing. Amy led us through her approach to influence marketing and the roles and responsibilities of her organization.

A blogger and influencer panel of Keith Townsend, Alastair Cooke, and Phoummala Schmitt talked about good and bad experiences interacting with PR folks and vendors, freelance writing, and what will make them accept an invitation to a conference —the surprising answer was that it often comes down to the other attendees, not who’s on stage!

A panel of advocacy program managers, Mark Finnern (founder of the SAP Mentors), Perrine Crampton (Citrix CTP), and Eric Nielsen (VMware vExpert) shared how their programs were managed, how they interact with the other teams in their companies, and what’s in it the participants.

Scott D. Lowe from Actual Tech Media discussed their recent IT buyer survey about the types of content they prefer to learn more about products and services. (Pro tip: long videos of executives are probably not the way to go.)

IMC Dinner at DockerCon

We had our first in-person meeting this month in Austin at DockerCon. A group of council members, bloggers and influencers, executives, and friends of the council came together for tacos and conversation.

We’re currently organizing another dinner in Boston on May 8 at OpenStack Summit. Let us know if you’d like to join us!

Research Program

Research is an important component of the IMC, and we’ve begun several lines of inquiry. We explored several technical communities to determine a list of influencers with the most authoritative reach on a given topic. The results were useful, with a few caveats we’ll continue to explore. Pro tip: fruitful influencer relationships are often found outside these Top 50 lists, and we want to investigate how we can better expose those interesting people. See our lists for VMware, Kuberenetes, and Google Cloud Platform.

Coming soon: more influencer lists and we’re really excited about launching in May the Influence Marketing Podcast that is exploring these enterprise advocacy programs.

Private Community Discussions

Our discussion platforms have been a place to have private peer-based discussions. Threads have been across a range of topics: metrics, crisis management, examples of great content, naming, and even how to write a graceful decline letter.

1:1 Calls

The council is growing, but for now our size lets us workshop individual questions and issues that group members are facing. We do this within our private IMC Community, and we also have periodic 1:1 private calls with our members.

Our two founders bring a breadth of experience to help individuals tackle at what’s currently on their plate and continue to grow in their careers. John and Kat have run their influence marketing consulting practice for 3 years, and before that John spent 8 years at VMware growing their social and influencer programs, while Kat’s career has been focused on leadership development, career coaching, and talent management.

Join the council

We are actively onboarding new companies into the council, and we’d like to welcome our newest member, Equinix! If you’re interested in joining, we invite you to drop by our next IMC Member Call on May 18. To get an invitation, drop us a line at info@influencemarketingcouncil.com. For more information on the council, visit influencemarketingcouncil.com

Thanks so much to all the current members for their contributions and sharing their experiences in these formative months! Together we are defining the next generation of marketing innovation, with a firm footing on what works today. We look forward to working with you to grow your programs successfully over the coming years!

John and Kat Troyer
co-founders, Influence Marketing Council