What is Influence Marketing? The Corruption of Influence

 Is Influence Marketing Manipulation?

Influence Marketing process
Influence Marketing process

The side of influence marketing no one wants to discuss.   Persuasion and manipulation use the same skill set. There is little difference between the two.  While both social leaders and followers are influencers, corruption of influence exposes both to manipulation.

Third party sales was going to be the subject of this article.  It was to be a more in-depth look at direct sales marketing.  Then I read an article that Christine DeGraff  shared. It asked the question what is the real measure of influence?

Influence marketing is not new. It comes from a study on how media affects voting.  It targets people who can persuade consumers.    The influence may use persuasion or advocacy.  When does persuasion become manipulation?

Who are the Influencers in Influence Marketing?

  1. They are third parties that sway prospects.
    1. Sales outsourcing is a type of third-party influence in the supply chain.
    2. How much liability do third-party sellers have?
    3. Should paid third-party influencers be required to reveal this information?
  2. They are third parties that influence the buying decision.   They are never accountable.
    1. These may be reporters and industry experts.
    2. This assumes that the media has a message.  It causes leaders tell others.
  3. They are activists or trend setters.
    1. Celebrities when wearing a brand starting a fad.
    2. The media introduces a product. The leader learns of it.  They pass it on to the followers.
    3. It assumes leaders get their source from the media.   The audience will act.

Bernd Rubel shared an article written by Mike Allton.  The article made statements about influence marketing from three viewpoints.

  • Potential customer’s perspective:  They are not going to do business with you because you have ten thousand followers.  I agree.
  • Business perspective:  Random followers have no business value because they are not targeted followers.  I agree in part because for a business only targeted followers have value.  I disagree in part because by redefining your product benefits you can market to different demographics.
  • Influencer perspective:   Consistently sharing a leaders updates and leaving comments will start a dialogue with them.  They may someday return the favor by sharing your updates.

The influencers perspective was a little confusing at first.  My first thought was this is the law of reciprocity.   How is sharing in hopes for a re-share any different from following because you are followed?  Do you want followers who share your articles for any other reason than they enjoyed it and found it beneficial or informative?  Someone using this tactic with the purpose to get an article re-shared seems manipulative.

I understand better now.  If you have thousands of followers it is hard to respond to everything you see.   You need to choose what you want to share.  We trust our social media leaders to give us quality information.   We must trust that they are able to spot manipulation tactics.

Who are the influencers in this situation? Is it the one with the followers?  Yes the one with the followers is an influencer.  Is it the one trying to get attention?   The one trying to get attention is an influencer.  They may target the leader for influence marketing.   Are both influencers?  Yes both are influencers.

Influence is a two-way street to influence a person you must interact with a person. When influence is corrupted it exposes both leaders and followers to manipulation.  How does persuasion turn into manipulation?   Think about any drug commercial you have seen on the television.  They present the benefits in a positive light.   They always give the “possible side effects”.  This is the use of persuasion.   If the “possible side effects” were left out that would be manipulation.

There is a lot more information I would like to talk about on influence marketing.   For great tips on the correct way to do your social media strategy.   I highly recommend the article by Mike Alton.  Thank you for reading.  If you enjoyed this like it on your social media page or share it if you prefer.  I am going on my fifth month of writing so I am going to update you on what I have been doing and why.  Look for this update in two weeks.

By:  David Baker

References

Alton, Mike “Why Followers, Not Follower Counts, Matter Most” The Social Media Hat http://www.thesocialmediahat.com/blog/why-followers-not-follower-counts-matter-most-09262014

Wikipedia “Influencer Marketing”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influencer_marketing