All the hype behind social audio apps reminds of 2013-14 when Snapchat first exploded and became mainstream. The rush by users to build connections and create influence was a priority. We saw the same thing last year in 2019 with TikTok.
In both instances, there were pundits screaming from the rooftops that brands must adopt these new channels in order to engage with customers. We saw experts come out of the woodwork, creating eBooks, best practice guides, and white papers. YouTubers began to record videos about how to gain followers, create relevant content and other growth hacking techniques.
Clubhouse is on a similar trajectory with 8M downloads, a $1B valuation and enough media attention to last for all of 2021. But they aren’t the only players in the space. According to Industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang, there are 28 social audio applications in the market.
The next obvious question is, how will brands react to this new medium of social audio? We have already seen a few start to make an appearance on Clubhouse like Kool-Aid, Hubspot, Barstool Sports and Mailchimp.
Technology and B2B brands might think that they are falling behind if they haven’t yet engaged in this new social audio ecosystem. They are not. We are still in the very early stages of social audio applications and the space will mature at some point painting a clear picture of the market leaders.
Here are 3 considerations that brands must think through before jumping headfirst into social audio influencer marketing.
Start With Relevance
The days of identifying and partnering with channel specific influencers are over, even if the channel is LinkedIn. The key to relevance is identifying influencers that are relevant to a specific audience and have authority on certain topics.
For example, if you are selling an RPA cloud platform and your target audience are software developers, your goal should be to identify individuals who influence this audience. Most likely it’s an influential software developer.
You will also need to ensure that this influencer has authority when they speak about RPA and intelligent automation. One way to measure this is to track the influencer’s audience engagement when they publish specific content about the topic. Is their audience sharing it, commenting on it, and liking it?
Real Thought Leadership
One critical factor of B2B influencer marketing is thought leadership.
Today’s buyer journey is complex and dynamic. There are hundreds of reasons why business decision makers may start the process of looking for new technology. Perhaps they are in growth mode and they need software that allows them to scale. Or, maybe they had a security breach and are looking to upgrade their threat detection software. In most cases, the purchase factors in the below buyer journey are consistent. Business decision-makers want product innovation, software that aligns to their goals, speed to value, the ability to scale, and of course ROI.
Part of that purchase decision process involves requirements building & exploring solutions and then selecting a particular vendor. Those last three pillars are when business decision makers are researching and seeking peer validation. And they do this a variety of different ways through searching Google, downloading and reading eBooks/white papers, spending time in various forums and engaging in dialogue with their peers.
This is why identifying influencers that are real thought leaders is so important. Not only is influencer content indexed very high in Google, they’re actively participating in social media conversations and forums by providing their perspectives and feedback on how to solve technology problems. This natural behavior opens the door to mapping influencers to business decision makers.
Creators of Community
With social audio, there are no “do overs”. No post-production or rehearsing. Everything happens in real-time. It’s a conversation and it’s topical. A social audio influencer must know how to create community, whether they are a participant, moderator or speaker. They must master the skill of being able to read the room, solicit feedback, interject when needed, and cultivate others to speak when there are awkward moments of silence.
In the early days of social media and before all the advertising, community managers were the epitome of connecting brands to customers. They were essentially the voice of the customer. They needed to be authentic and transparent if they wanted to earn the trust of the social community. And today’s social audio influencer must have a similar skill —connect people to other people, listen and act, inspire and spread ideas, and do all of that verbally and on the fly.
Creators of community is a skill that cannot be learned overnight. Influencers cannot hide behind a camera, hit record, and then delete, and then record again. Flooding hashtags in Tweets just won’t work with social audio. One thing that social audio will do is separate “channel influencers” from real thought leaders.
I have never been the type of person to spend so much time planning that execution becomes an afterthought. So if you work for a technology or B2B brand and jump headfirst into Clubhouse or some other social audio platform, it’s not going to make or break your brand. It’s okay to test new channels, explore some opportunities or just listen so you can start to understand the vibe of the community.
However, before you make large investments identifying, hiring and activating influencers, it would be very important to think through these considerations before doing so.
For more thoughts on Clubhouse, audience analytics or influencers in general, I created this B2B influencer marketing guide filled with models, approaches and actionable advice so that you can start to execute programs for your brand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael is a digital strategist, published author, TEDx speaker, adjunct professor, and avid 49ers and Lakers fan with over 20+ years' experience helping brands break through the clutter and reach their audience with game-changing marketing and communications programs.