In a Warc Best Practice paper – How to use influencers to drive a word-of-mouth strategy – Ed Keller and Brad Fay, CEO and COO respectively of the Keller Fay Group which specialises in word-of-mouth marketing, point out that "when it comes to conversation – the back and forth of ideas and information between consumers – offline channels dominate both in volume and impact".
In evidence, they cite research undertaken for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association which found that two thirds of the sales impact of conversation comes from offline discussions about brands, rather than through social media.
And at the centre of these are a class of influencer they describe as "Conversation Catalysts" – everyday consumers who volunteer opinions about products and services that they feel passionate about, and who others turn to for their knowledge, advice and insights.
Those conversations are most often taking place in people's homes, at coffee bars, at the office, at parties, in stores, and the other places people go throughout the day, not on social media or online forums.
While marketers should of course take advantage of digital marketing tools, they shouldn't stop there, the authors advise. "In many cases should not even start there," they add.
Rather than thinking about channels it is preferable to begin with a people-centric strategy when working with everyday influencers.
"You might call them channel agnostic," Keller and Fay suggest. "They will use whatever channel is most convenient or appropriate for a particular type of sharing and advice giving."
Influencers also have one characteristic that is particularly helpful to marketers, they note: "They are hand-raisers." This group is far more likely than the average consumer to call customer service-numbers, visit brand websites, or volunteer for marketing programs.
"For this reason, marketers should make a priority of effectively responding to incoming inquiries, and building databases of these types of consumers."
They are valuable to both their friends, as a source of trusted advice, and to marketers, as a source of real influence.
Data sourced from Warc