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Webinar Recording On Influencer Marketing: How To Identify And Engage With Your Influencers

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Wish to develop an understanding on how influencer marketing can impact the accomplishments of your company’s goals and objective? Have a look at below webinar led by Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran, AVP & Head of Marketing at Altimetrik.

Q & A During Webinar With Dr. Vikram:

Q- The advertisements cannot be really considered as influential. Will you say that AB (Amitabh Bachhan) was brought as an influential by Gujarat tourism? Remember that he was brought in as an endorser and eventually he branded with Gujarat tourism. So what are your comments on that?

Dr. Vikram: I do not know Mr. AB personally and I definitely want to visit Gujarat and it has nothing to do with Mr. AB. I haven’t visited Gujarat yet but want to visit it because of Mr. Narendra Modi and all the wonderful things he talks about Gujarat. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Narendra Modi is a bigger influencer to go to Gujarat than Mr. AB. Is Mr. Amintabh Bachhan is an influencer is a very tough question to answer. He is an influencer in one area for sure. He is a very good influencer in how film stars should manage their careers. If you compare him with his peers like Rajesh Khanna or some of the others, Mr. AB has done a much greater job. So, he is definitely a good influencer in that area but I am sure he took many commercials in Gujarat campaign which would make him in my definition not a pure influencer. This is a celebrity endorsement.

Let me tell you Ganesh (who asked the question), if you are from Karnataka if Mr. Sittaramaiyya pays him some more money he will definitely become a brand ambassador of Karnataka and we will have greater tourism at Karnataka. I am pretty sure of that.

Q- I keep wondering at Digital Vidya that conducting Webinars is more like building relationship with the influencers like you are one. If I look at the whole range of influencers from our space from the rising stars to the ones who have become more like a celebrity. The same strategy does not really work for each one of them. What is the strategy that works for each one of them? Do you have any thoughts on how to get good ROI? Which category of influencers should one start with or it depends on the type of brand or the organisation you are?

Dr. Vikram: Yes, it depends on the trade strategy. Let’s assume that you have a cake shop in Bangalore, supposed to be a local cake shop. So you want a resident expert or a rising star to engage with because your scope is not beyond that. You do not want the industry rock-star or the superstar as you do not want to go national. But if you have national or international ambitions, then it is best to engage with influencers of that category and not bother that much of the local influencers. It depends on where you want to take your campaign to. For example – Digital Vidya. I think it is something that will definitely go national and I am sure it can go international as well. So your focus primarily in my opinion should be more towards the superstars in the industry, because that is where you will gain most attraction as compared to a local business which is very locally held which has no international or national presence, I think they are better off dealing with the rising stars as well as the resident experts.

Q- Are you predicting the death of celebrity advertising? So, any comments on that?

Dr. Vikram: I am very amused by the celebrity advertisements in one context. I wrote a piece in Silicon India 4 years ago. It has a very interesting scenario when Gillette who had 4 brand ambassadors or superstars of sports, all the 4 got into trouble at the same time. It’s very rare that this happens. The 4 gentlemen in question were Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Rahul Dravid and Theory Henry.

If you remember at that time Roger Federer lost his No. 1 ranking and he actually cried after losing 1 tournament, I think Wimbledon or French Open. Theory Henry handled a ball in the qualification against Ireland which helped France qualify but he actually used his hand to push the ball back into the pitch and scored from there. He felt from trace immediately. Rahul Dravid was dropped from the Indian Cricket team at that time and Tiger Woods, we all know what he did. So there was this stumble where 4 of these superstars’ endorsements kind of backfired on them.

It brought about an equation where I thought that may be the companies should start hedging, you know brand ambassador hedging. If you look at some of the larger brands, especially the fashion brands like LVMH, they have endorsements from everybody like Michael Gorbachev to Jennifer Lopez endorsing them. So, hedging has become necessary because nowadays what a celebrity does or endorse or I endorse is not a secret anymore as news travel very fast through social networks etc. In my opinion, celebrity endorsement will be alive till marketers believe in it. We still have lot of marketers who spend lot of years in creating this as a discipline, they have invested in this and they will continue to keep it alive. But I think the new breed of marketers who start taking the influence in marketing; once they rise they will create the death of the celebrity marketing.

Q- How to tackle influencing in B2B campaign in short-term campaigns; for example, in a co-branding campaign like Delhi Dare Devil and Muthoot Finance? The ad campaign that was an example to explain the notion on branding which was the initial question.

Dr. Vikram: It is not advisable to use influencers for short term campaigns. The reason being that they take lot of time to identify the influencer in the duration the IPL would run. Sometimes, it is counterproductive to use influencers for short term campaigns. But in general, I think the IPL moment was heavily influenced by our lack of time, the fact that we did not have time to sit and watch a cricket match and at the same time it was influenced by the regional loyalties. These 2 were strong influencers there.

Muthoot Finance, I think despite being from Kerala the biggest foray was the gold coins. I am sure they must be having their own set of influencers who influence people to take action.

Q- You said that we need to nurture the influencer. Don’t you think that the influencer have certain time period in a particular industry. For example- a person who is active for 4-5 months, he may not be active for next 3-4 months. You gave an example of what happened with Gillette whose all the 4 brand ambassadors had a slide in their careers. Don’t you think it is an investment which is lost sometimes? If yes, then how can we take care of this or is it just totally luck?

Dr. Vikram: In my opinion some of these tools in the past, they gave us a fair indication of whose influence is rising and whose influence is in vain. What this requires in my opinion is constant monitoring of the rising people as well as those who are at their peak. So, if I have to really hedge against nurturing an influencer whose influence is going to fall dramatically, what I am going to do is I will probably take up few influencers from every bucket like somebody who is a rock-star to somebody who is a rising star. I will spread them across this and start nurturing the whole as a group. At least every few months, I have to take corrective action. I am recommending not dropping anybody. See if the influence of a person has gone down, do not drop them but keep the engagement shifted to a lower level and shift somebody else higher.

This means if you are doing a low hedge and if you are engaging with the influencers regularly and your policy is that every 1 month you engage with them in some activity or the other. So I recommend don’t drop an influencer totally, keep it at a lower level and pull somebody else higher. But keep involving them in the discussion and the conversation has to be flowing, otherwise they do not have any obligation to promote you! So as per your question if you nurture an influencer who has lost his influence and he has nothing to do with the industry then you lose your resources.

For example – Mr. Vijay Mallya, strong superstar influencer in Aviation industry for a while and now he is totally fallen off the grade. Nobody wants to go to him for an advice for airlines. So in my opinion we should spread it across people and monitor the situation and if you feel that if a guy is losing is influence put him at a lower bracket but keeps him unless something drastic happens and the guy has totally fallen off the grade because he still can influence people in the back up.

Q- What is the one most important thing in the entire cycle of the influencer relationship you discussed in this webinar? Is that the identification of the influencer? Is it the way we build up the relationship? Or is it the way we nurture the relationship? Out of these 3 things which is the most important thing that a marketer should always focus on?

Dr. Vikram: I think nurturing should come first. It is like finding a friend. You find a friend, you become friends, then you hang around for a while and then you build up friendship and then one fine day you both get busy in your jobs, you stop talking to each other. I think nurturing is very important and the marketers will always face this question from an organisation sense of what is the ROI? Where are we spending so much of money? What is happening? How many leads are coming?, etc. It is very difficult to quantify all this. So, I would recommend having a very strong mechanism of engagement because one of the ways of engagement is for example – when we work with a garner, one of the metrics that we use to measure this is that how many times a garner has brought into a conversation and how many times it has mentioned us? So, it is more than appearing on a report.

It also gives an indication of how many conversations have been done. The more you nurture these people, the more information you will get that your influence is happening; like you can say that I was at this place and they were asking about what services do you provide and I said you guys should go clear and you should talk to these guys. So that gives you an indication that your influencers are talking about you and this could be an indication to your sales guys that this is the area where there is some demand. Our influencers have already introduced us in a way to the authority he has. I think nurturing is the toughest part because it not only gives you an idea where your relationship is going and who else want you guys talking, want your products and services and that can give a very good input into your CRM or sales process.

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