This year, people are going to start moving away from influencer marketing as we know it. Brands are going to be more reluctant to spend money on external influencers to say nice things about them because it’s become too common. Buyers are becoming increasingly untrusting of it.
Instead, companies will focus their time and money on investing in their own influencers. That way, they can create influence in the marketing using the voice of their in-house experts. It makes sense, too, since 68% of people trust company experts while 61% trust people just like them.
Turning employees into influencers unlocks trust and influence within the buyer journey earlier. If you’ve got experts out there not talking about the product, but sharing their opinions and what they believe in, they’re closer to the customer and what’s going on.
If you can extract these opinions and turn them into thought leadership, it’s more likely to win trust with buyers.
People trust thought-leadership content in the buyer journey
90% of people haven’t made up their mind about a brand before they start searching. 84% of people expect brands to be creating content. Getting the right thought leadership content in front of someone at the right time can therefore have an impact on the journey they take. It could even speed up their progression through the funnel.
Company experts are seen as the most trusted people to hear from, which means expert employees are the perfect people to write thought leadership content, not already time-poor CEOs. Only 47% of people trust CEOs, compared to the 61% who trust people just like them and the 68% of people who trust company technical experts. It therefore makes sense to create thought leadership content from people who are in the trenches with potential buyers. They’ll be able to empathise with the buyer’s situation more easily, which helps to create a more human connection. This connection – even if it’s one-sided – can lead to an increase in buyer trust.
88% of B2B content marketers agree that content makes the company seem more credible and trusted. The more visible an expert is within the niche, the more likely buyers are to trust them. Regular visibility helps to build their brand and helps their expertise to reach more people.
People are getting sceptical of paid external influencers
The more influencers that get paid to work with brands, the more sceptical buyers become of the relationships between influencers and brands. It’s always hard for audiences to tell if influencers are taking the money without really caring about what they’re promoting. The backlash celebrities got for promoting dieting pills a couple of years ago is a prime example of this.
Activating employees and turning them into influencers is the solution. You’d be paying them regardless. It just so happens that they’re knowledgeable on a particular area, enthusiastic about your product, and willing to share those things with a digital audience.
Doing it this way is also more cost-effective than working with external influencers. For every $1 invested in external influencer marketing, businesses make an average of $5.20. activate an internal influencer.
It shows confidence
Putting employees out there is good for them individually as it builds their brand. It also builds their loyalty to the business because it shows their employer cares about them because it’s investing in their brand and expertise. It shows trust and confidence in them as an employee.
To the outside world, it shows the brand is trustworthy enough to do this. It isn’t afraid of employees getting poached – it’s confident in its strong company culture and ability to retain employees.
This also builds the company’s employer brand, helping it to attract better candidates and reducing its time to hire. Given that the average time to hire can be up to 41 days depending on the industry, the more that companies can do to reduce their time to hire, the more money they save. This money can then be re-invested in nurturing more employee influencers.
In the competitive market, where more people are in employment than ever, finding ways to attract the very best employees – who can then become influencers too – is crucial to a business’s survival.
Don’t hold back! Show off your employees as much as possible. Give them the support and education that they need to share their knowledge and build their brand, and they’ll fly like the evangelists and ambassadors they can be.
Customers will believe in them and trust their knowledge, leading to them trusting the influencer and in turn, your brand. The more you promote and encourage your employee influencers, the more it will pay off.