Marketing Journeys is a semi-weekly series of blog posts, vlogs, podcasts and general chats that asks a wide variety of specialists from around the globe to take us on their personal marketing journey, where they started, their education, experiences, highs, lows and all the in-betweens.
This week we were especially happy to interview the remarkably astute and experienced, Scott Guthrie – Influencer Marketing expert and thought leader.
A little background – born, raised, education…
I’m half Australian but have spent the majority of my life in the UK. I went to school here and took my degrees here, too.
Scott, your linkedin CV reads like a laundry list of consultancys…how did you get started down this road?
I started out as a journalist though quickly moved into management within commercial news distribution. I shall be eternally grateful to United Business Media for putting me through an MBA whilst I was a PR Newswire. This allowed me to combine deep subject matter expertise about the media industry with academic rigour.
When and where did you first hear about influencer marketing and what made you decide to focus so much of your time on this ‘new’ discipline?
My career has crisscrossed through public relations, marketing, journalism and management. I’m proud to co-chair of the Chartered Insitute of Public Relations’ influencer marketing panel and to sit on the council at the Public Relations and Communications Association.
PR practitioners have always worked with influencers. Previously these influencers were confined to groups such as journalists, analysts and government officials. Today, the social web has enabled influencers to emerge on every media, in every vertical and sector.
I’m fascinated by the growth spurts (and growing pains) of the influencer marketing industry.
You’ve made more than one appearance on influencer related panels, webinars and talks related to this industry, what do you love about it? – the influencer game, that is.
A decade ago former Financial Times journalist, Tom Foremski, implored every company “to become a media company – because every company needs to master the technologies of publishing to their customers, staff, neighbo[u]rs, and to raise their media profile against their competitors”.
His idea has since atomised. Today we’re all creative directors. Thanks to smartphones we’re now able to generate studio-quality content and publish it at scale sharing with our friends, family and anyone else with our world view. In short, social media has democratised the media landscape. Social media influencers have become media mastheads of one. That’s so exciting. And, we’re only just beginning to see the discipline’s full impact.
I give up a lot of my time to judge awards and to appear on panels because the industry is moving at tremendous speed. The only way to keep up-to-date is to share ideas and to learn from others leading the way.
What’s the difference between b2c and b2b influencer marketing?
B2B influencer marketing is perhaps a truer form on influence. B2C influencer marketing is learning some of the B2B traits. For example, a renewed importance on influence being accretive and built over a long period of time. Or, the importance of subject matter experts sharing their point of view.
There are often different motivations for influencers in the B2B realm compared with B2C. B2B influencers are often already employed in another capacity. They often look to enhance their influence in order to become better at their jobs. For them, a key motivation for working with a brand is early or exclusive access to a new project or a piece of research. They might seek to expand their influence with new audiences or to deepen their existing relationships.
The B2B buyer’s journey is often complex, unpredictable, and far from linear. The ultimate decision-maker may be influenced by many within a company.
Of the social media platforms that continue to redefine the IM industry, which apps are most advantageous to a brand?
There are two parts to this question. A brand needs to engage with its customers and prospect customers – and more broadly with society at large. Online this means being wherever these constituents are.
In order to mature, influencer marketing needs to embrace data. But a scientific approach can not be to the exclusion of human, contextualised intelligence.
Accurate, first-party data will help any practitioner with influencer identification, audience mapping, avoiding Influencer fraud, better benchmarking and accurate measurement & evaluation. But, data alone will not help with brand sentiment, with creative style, with shared values, with tone of voice. Here influencer marketing practitioners need to take a systems-based approach. To be powered by data but to be guided by insights, intellect and human instinct.
Is TikTok as dangerous as a certain President claims?
Short answer: who really knows?
Slightly longer answer: In early July I asked Should you timeout TikTok? in an article: ‘TikTok does take a lot of personal data from users’. But no more, and arguably less so, than Facebook or Instagram.
Should you be worried about international security issues? Possibly, but you should also question the motivations behind those rattling their sabres.
Ultimately you should be armed with facts and make an informed decision on those. For marketers the question is further complicated depending on where your audiences are. Currently, 2 Billion of them are on TikTok.
We’ve long-known that influencer-generated content on TikTok sells stuff. In the UK 30% of 16-24-year-olds report being influenced to buy a product or service as a result of seeing Tiktok influencer content according to Takumi, an influencer marketing platform. The percentage rises to 40% of Generation Z in Germany. That’s a big audience to lose based on hearsay and fearmongering alone.
What is next for IM and you?
I’m starting a podcast: The Influencer Marketing Lab. It launches in September. I’m excited about that. But I’ll continue to offer brands and agencies discrete professional advice about the industry.
If you wish to speak with us, visit Wing Digital Marketing and let´s make productive and successful changes together.