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The Influencers Are Here

NATIONAL can’t wait to visit Cleveland next week for Content Marketing World 2017. In advance of the big week, our Atlantic team is hosting conversations with some can’t-miss speakers from the event and getting a sneak peek of their insights and ideas.

Kicking off our countdown to content is CEO of TopRank Marketing, Lee Odden. He’s an expert in integrated and optimized content, social media and influencer marketing programs for companies like McKesson, LinkedIn, and Dell.

We spent 30 minutes talking trends in influencers programs, staying authentic as brands and influencers alike, and what he’s watching in the B2B space in particular. Here are just some of the themes that stuck out from our conversation.

A little can go a long way.

One brand Odden is watching when it comes to influencer marketing is Adidas. In particular, its Tango Squads programs, groups of socially savvy 16-19-year-old soccer content creators living in 15 key cities worldwide. While the rest of the world is obsessed with measurement, Adidas is handing the keys to its brand to a small group of teens operating on dark social, where the impacts can’t always be quantified. It’s the ultimate expression of niche influencer marketing. More and more, brands are finding influencers with smaller audiences, but more impact in their industry, all to drive higher quality conversions. We’ll definitely be watching Adidas in the coming months and how the Tango Squads evolve.

No surprise, it’s all about quality.

In Odden’s predominantly B2B world, pay to play isn’t necessarily the norm as it is in B2C industries. And that changes how brands and influencers have to work together. Today, the trend is moving towards buyers being ever more self-directed—they’re driving 60 to 70% of the sales cycle themselves, before a sales team might ever get involved. For influencer marketing to work, then, both brands and influencers need to identify where their values align, where they’re consistent. Odden believes if influencers want to be effective for brands and to their communities, it’s about finding the right opportunities, when the ask is what they’d do, anyway. Then if compensation is part of the picture, it’s an appreciation of their craft, the art of making media, not compensation “just to talk about the thing”. We thought Odden’s distinction between the two was incredibly insightful.

Is the future one person, one account?

Remember when new social platforms used to come and go? Vine launched in 2012 to an eruption of popularity and downloads. Periscope followed in a similar fashion. Odden has noted that those kinds of rapid ascensions are happening less frequently today and what could be perceived as “older” platforms, like Facebook and LinkedIn, are making a comeback through new functionality. For Odden and in the B2B space, LinkedIn is especially interesting, given its new in-app video capabilities launching in the coming months. But our conversation also noted that there’s the potential for platform fatigue to set in. How many channels are people willing and ready to maintain? And if people begin to reduce their platform maintenance or adoption, both brands and influencers will have to adjust accordingly.

 

A big thank you to Lee Odden for the great insights, and don’t miss his session next week. He gave us lots to think about (and Google). Stay tuned for more conversations as the countdown to Content Marketing World continues.