Mike Hanson* kicked off his first week as the CMO of a large bank with a tour of their state-of-the-art social media listening center. Hanson and his team noticed their firm’s name was trending in bright red indicating negative sentiment.
As it turned out, the well-known celebrity they had recruited as a brand ambassador went on a rant against Wall Street and corporate greed during an interview on a major news network that morning. Viewers were not happy with his “hypocrisy of shilling” for big corporations while publicly denouncing them. So they took to social media to express their opinion. Hanson’s employer was caught in this raging cross-fire.
Hanson barely had time to process the situation when his cell phone started ringing. It was his boss, the CEO. There was no doubt in Hanson’s mind why he was calling.
This is a real story. It is also a story that was entirely avoidable.
The PR team knew about this influencer’s controversial stance on their industry through their past interactions, but the Brand team who recruited this influencer were oblivious and completely blindsided.
It is very common for departments in large companies to not share information with each other on a regular basis. The root cause for this disconnect is that everyone works in their own departmental silos and typically they do not interact with each other.
So how can other brands avoid Hanson’s fate?
Here are 4 powerful ways that the right technology can help large organizations break down silos and avoid similar nightmares.
#1 More Transparency => Better Decisions: In Hanson’s case, additional background information and notes on influencer’s interactions with his firm in the past would have flagged this influencer as unfit early on in the process and prevented this huge public debacle.
This lack of transparency and data hurts both brands and influencers.
We spoke to an influencer recruited for a keynote in New York by a well-known brand. She was surprised to find that another group within the same company was hosting a similar event just few miles away. Neither group knew about the other’s event. If the two groups had talked to each other, they could have invited the same influencer to speak at both events. This highlights yet another one of many missed opportunities because of organizational silos.
Many influencer technology platforms have a database of influencers where users can capture notes, feedback and even allow users to rate the influencers. This data helps departments across large organizations track which groups are already working with a given influencer, get feedback on past engagements and help them make better data-informed decisions.
#2 “Universal System of Record” => Cost Savings and Efficiencies: Some brands pay influencers more than they should and this is not because of price gouging or deception. Brands pay more because they lack the essential data to negotiate a fair rate.
One of our clients confessed they paid an influencer 3X more than another group within the same company because they didn’t have any data on past payments. In most organizations, the P.O.s and contracts go through different finance/billing teams and cost centers, so it isn’t easy to find this information.
A centralized platform can serve as a “universal system of record.” It allows brands to easily look up an influencer’s past payment history and use it to estimate future compensation. They can also check if there is an existing contract and details on standard negotiated rates that can be leveraged instead of opening a new P.O. and renegotiating new terms – all of which can take ages in a large organization.
#3: Holistic Benchmarks => Better Performance Measurement: One question we often receive from our clients is – “How do I know if the results from our last campaign are good or mediocre?” We’ve heard too many horror stories where clients engaged an influencer just because of an agency recommendation and were shocked when they had to pay thousands of dollars for minimal or no results.
There are many influencers out there but not all of them are a good fit for your brand. Many brands often skip lesser-known influencers in favor of a celebrity because they don’t have any past performance data to make an informed decision.
Technology allows brands to gather, share, analyze and compare performance data across multiple campaigns so you can objectively assess whether or not your campaign was truly successful. An additional benefit of an influencer technology platform is that it empowers all the departments with easy access to data and they can all learn from each other’s successes and failures.
#4: Increased Collaboration => Deeper Relationships: Brands that treat influencer engagements like “casual dating” or a one-off activity miss out on significant advantages of a long-term relationship such as deeper understanding, expertise and influencer’s ongoing advocacy for your brand. The same principle also applies to internal cross-department collaboration.
A relationship-mindset paired with the right technology platform can benefit the entire organization. When different groups share information that is mutually beneficial, it creates a virtuous cycle of learning and success, which has a positive ripple effect across the company.
Not every business problem can be solved via technology and not every technology is right for your business. That said, if your goal is to break down organizational silos through more transparency, increased cross-functional collaboration, better data-informed decisions and deeper relationships – both within and outside your organization – influencer technology is one investment worth making.
Mia Dand is an experienced marketing leader who helps F1000 companies innovate at scale, become more customer-centric, and stay deeply relevant in this disruptive digital age. She has built and led digital/social media programs for world’s best-known brands – including Google, Symantec, HP, eBay and others – and recently authored the first definitive report on the Influencer Technology market.
*Not a real name