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Influencer Marketing: go Global or Stay Local?

by | Aug 14, 2014 | Best Practice, ,

Globalization and social media have changed the way influencer marketing operates on a global and local level. Although every influencer typically has more influence in their local region it is now possible to measure which influencers have an influence in other countries and therefore should be treated as a global influencer.
So how can brands capitalise on this knowledge and put together a coherent global influencer marketing strategy especially when they are often structured in silos and there are so many cultural differences across the various continents?

Building local and global influencer programs: two real life examples

First of all it is important to find the right influencers. Influencer identification can be complex especially with a global strategy (a case study that outlines two effective techniques to finding the right global influencers is available on our blog).
Once the key influencers are identified, building a global influencer network allows brands to better understand who has true global influence as opposed to local market influence. The network of connections also shows whether there is a mature online community (dense network) or whether there is a disparate or fragmented community (small number of isolated connections). Often this is where rich local sub communities of influencers can also be surfaced that can be vital to localised marketing efforts.
Let’s take 2 real life examples in education and B2B Marketing as the influencer networks both look very different and therefore require different influencer engagement strategies.

Global Education Influencer Program

Network Map Edu
Click to enlarge the Education Network Map

With this network map we can make the following observations:
1) There is a mature online dialogue and community as there are many interactions across markets such as USA, Canada, Brazil, Turkey, Croatia and Costa Rica. Cross border influencing is definitely in evidence here.
2) Shelly (@ShellTerrel) for example is one of the key global connectors among the education influencers. She is a US-based top influencer and is interacting with 50% US based influencers and 50% influencers based in Europe and South America.
Imagine a brand wants to run an Education influencer marketing campaign in North America, Europe and Latin America. Should the brand’s US Marketing team engage with Shelley or it is better for a global marketing team to manage any engagement with such an important influencer?

B2B Marketing Influencer Program (Click here to see the Top 200 B2B Marketing Influencers)

Network Map B2bmarketing
Click to enlarge the B2B Marketing Network Map

With this network map we can make very different observations:
1) There is much less of a global community. The Community is US centric with stronger local market influence.
2) Michael Brenner is a key connector among US based influencers but has had only 4 interactions with other international influencers in this particular influencer program.
Both Shelly Terrell and Michael Brenner are influencers in their respective fields but yet their network of connections in these example programs suggests that Shelly has a global influence in her field whereas Michael has more local market influence.
This intelligence is critical as if your brand strategy is to influence the Canadian and UK markets specifically in a B2B marketing context for example then arguably it might not be worth engaging with influencers such as Michael (no offence Michael ;)).

Master the global network in order to understand the local market strategy

Now let’s consider how this intelligence can be actioned within local marketing teams. Is it feasible for local markets to engage with influencers based in other countries?
For start-ups and small to medium businesses it is not normally an issue to engage with global influencers but for global brands there are multiple challenges not least around who ‘owns’ the relationship for these influencers. The larger brands are also often limited by their inflexible corporate structure and will face complex cultural challenges when developing their global influencer relationship management strategy.
Continents such as Europe, Latin America and Asia are composed of many different languages and cultures which demand more strategic planning when creating a global influencer marketing framework. Local market activation tends to be more crucial in these markets and global influencers may lack the specific cultural knowledge to influence certain target markets.
The truth is of course one size does not fit all. It depends on your market, what you want to achieve, level of marketing resource and how much quality content you have at your disposable… etc. BUT if your brand is able to find a great selection of truly global influencers why not consider running a centralized global influencer program in addition to local market programs?
Combining local and global influencer marketing efforts with carefully selected influencers can lead to an increase in lead generation, brand awareness and thought leadership.
Sure, when it comes to engagement strategy, it is important to determine where the boundaries are and also where flexibility can be built in but it is worth investing the effort in the planning stages to achieve greater results down the line.
If you want to know more about how your brand can establish its influencer marketing strategy locally or globally please get in touch.