Tuck Ross, Senior Vice President, Digital Marketing, BBVA, discussed the impact of influencers on today's brands in his keynote presentation to Argyle's CMO membership at the 2016 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum in Dallas on Dec. 8. In his presentation, "The Social Brand: Harnessing the Power of 5 Types of Influencers," Ross outlined the different types of influencers and their impact on businesses and consumers.
According to Ross, marketers face a difficult task – engaging consumers in a digital marketplace. He pointed out that the average attention span of consumers is about 9 seconds. Meanwhile, Ross also noted that the majority of consumers read only headlines, which means failure to provide engaging content may cause a brand to fall behind its rivals.
Comparatively, empowering consumers is key, particularly for brands that want to differentiate themselves from rivals. And with influencer support, a brand may be able to generate substantial interest in its products and services.
"People love to share about themselves and their experiences," Ross said. "We are all content, and now, we are all publishers. People and brands are starting to look the same."
In the past, how a brand developed content played an important role in its customer engagement strategy. Now, brands must be able to look beyond content to engage consumers and foster long-lasting partnerships with them.
"It's not just about content, but how the content across platforms and media and people work together to create an authentic patchwork of what your brand is," Ross noted.
Furthermore, today's consumers have the ability to share real-time information about a brand, its products and its services from any location, at any time. This has transformed the way that consumers and brands connect with one another and will continue to evolve as new technologies become available.
"Purchase decisions are made in-between people and then shared publicly," Ross pointed out. "People rely on individuals and groups of individuals to help them guide their decision."
Having the ability to deliver an unprecedented customer experience is paramount for today's businesses, regardless of size or industry.
"We are all content, and now, we are all publishers. People and brands are starting to look the same."
If a brand understands how to deliver unique customer experiences, it may be able to stand out from its rivals both now and in the future.
"In the age of the consumer, it's all about experiences," Ross stated. "As digital takes over, the more that people want tangible moments in time. … We want real, the stories and the moments that will make them tangible. And when we find them, we will share them."
Brands also must be ready to dedicate the necessary time and resources to learn about their target audiences. As such, brands must be able to collect a wide assortment of customer data from across the web and use it to understand customer behaviors and trends.
"We want more than simple awareness," Ross said. "Impressions and reach are not good enough anymore. Those metrics are only enough to show what we can actually do, but we need to be able to show the results after those top-funnel metrics."
Ultimately, influencers can play a key role for brands, and perhaps it is easy to understand why. Influencers empower a brand to extend its global reach and can help a company share authentic information about its products and services.
"It's not just about content, but how the content across platforms and media and people work together to create an authentic patchwork of what your brand is."
Connecting with the right influencers may seem challenging, but finding influencers who know how to engage with audience members can deliver significant benefits to brands.
"Size doesn't always matter [with an influencer's audience]," Ross said. "It also becomes the way an influencer interacts with an audience."
In addition, Ross stated there are five types of influencers:
- Customers: People who purchase products and services from a brand.
- Brand Employees: Employees who work for a brand and promote the brand.
- Sales Employees: Employees who are focused on driving sales for a brand.
- Marketplace Influencers: People who understand industry trends and can impact how consumers view a brand.
- Ambassador Influencers: Partners who work with a brand as part of a mutually beneficial pact.
Many influencer groups can help a brand connect with consumers and expand globally. However, a company must ensure that its brand messaging remains consistent across all influencer groups. By doing so, a business will be able to share authentic information about its products and services, drive collaboration with numerous influencers and get optimal results.
"Most of these [groups] get talked about individually, but when we look at a full, holistic, 360-degree influencer program, putting this together with a through line that creates a consistent story delivers incredible power [for brands]," Ross noted.
Tuck Ross joined BBVA Compass in 2015 as SVP, Digital, to assist the digital transformation of the bank and develop and implement the digital marketing strategy. He is responsible for digital strategy including product and consumer experience, social media and content, sales acquisition, retention, and the customer relationship cycle.
Prior to BBVA Compass, Tuck led marketing & digital strategy for Guitar Center's e-commerce business. Before Guitar Center, he spent time at Disney, Hasbro, Bank of America and Ergobaby, driving retail and entertainment marketing, media, customer relationships, product development, and CRM.
Ross graduated from Cal Poly Pomona and holds an MBA from Pepperdine University.