Ashley Zeckman

The Microsoft Factor: Scaling Influencer Marketing to Transform a Global Brand #CMWorld

Ashley Zeckman on Sep 8th, 2016     Content Marketing World, Influencer Marketing, Online Marketing

microsoft-influencer-marketing

Influencer marketing has proven to be a very effective way for brands large and small to build credibility and trust with their audience. However, many influencer marketing programs fail before they even get off the ground. But why?

There are many reasons that these programs don’t work according to Traackr CEO Pierre-Loïc Assayag in his presentation with Microsoft’s Amanda Duncan and Eve Psalti at Content Marketing World. These reasons include:

influencer-marketing-not-successful

Often times, these transient interactions with influencers yield limited results. Think of it like a lot of first dates that don’t develop the relationship further or lead to a marriage.

True influence is based on trust and built on relationships. And the secret to influencer marketing ROI is to play the long game. But how do you scale intimacy?

While there is no silver bullet, Microsoft has done a fantastic job at solving this problem and creating a scalable influencer marketing program. Below is a question and answer session with Amanda and Eve that uncovers how Microsoft has approached influencer marketing within their organization.

Why has influencer marketing become a priority at Microsoft?
At Microsoft (like other industries) we deal with users that do not want to be marketed to. They tend to be adverse to a campaign or communication because they don’t trust a large brand.

Instead, they depend on their peers and learn from each other. As an organization, we needed to make sure that we drove community learning with experts that our customers trusted in a more credible and authentic way.

There are so many places to get information these days and people tend to go to the same well over and over again. For example, if you get a restaurant recommendation and you enjoy the restaurant, you’ll go back to that source again when you need another recommendation. Similarly, when you’re a brand or company you want to incorporate those voices that your customers are going back to again and again to create authenticity.

What are some of the hurdles you’ve experienced in building influencer programs?
Sometimes, it can be as basic as making sure that you’re aligned with your team. It might happen that you look over at the person next to you and realize that you’re running the same race independently when you could have been working together. It’s incredibly important to spend a lot of time internally making sure you’re on the same page.

Within Microsoft, there are different business units that have a slightly different audience slant and mandate for the product. However, at the end of the day, it’s the same brand and collaboration between these teams is essential for success.

When brands have a global presence (like Microsoft)it’s important to deliver a message is universally accepted and compelling. There should also be the opportunity to adapt as needed to meet the audience.

What does a day-in-the-life of an influencer marketer look like?
To be honest, there’s a lot of travel and it’s not always to the most exciting places. However, it definitely makes a difference when you are able to talk to your influencers face-to-face. This also presents a good opportunity to show them new ideas and get their initial feedback.

Also, every day is different. The humanity and relationship element of what the Microsoft team does is incredibly important to the job.

We also spent a lot of time on the internet.

How does Microsoft identify influencers to work with?
Microsoft is approaching this a few different ways. There are people that they’ve collaborated with previously and there is the opportunity to leverage their networks to see who else they might be connected to. Additionally, there is a lot of keyword searching to find relevant influencers.

In all, there is definitely still a very large human component involved in identifying influencers.

The intersection of reach and relevance for an influencer on a particular topic is also incredibly important. You want them to have the right reach so their voice is heard. But you also need to make sure they’re relevant for the message to the audience.

Can you share some information about Microsoft’s openness to challenge?
At a high-level, Microsoft’s mission is to help every person on the planet achieve more. It is a try something different, try again sort of scenario.

You can’t be so afraid to make a mistake that you don’t try anything different. It gives you an opportunity to try more, to do more.

It’s also about realizing that each person has unique needs. If we look at our audience that has all these different devices, we need to make sure they get things done wherever they are. It’s about making them do great work. That means, making sure everything works with each other.

Thanks to Pierre, Amanda and Eve for Sharing Your Insights!
Organizations like Microsoft are truly leading the charge in creating successful and organic influencer marketing strategies. Additionally, tools like Traackr enable organizations to help identify and recruit influencers to join their influencer programs to create mutual value.

Disclosure: Traackr is a TopRank Marketing client.

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Director of Agency Marketing for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.