Danger of dabbling in dark arts of ‘influencer alchemy’

“Mobilise the people to shape your brand” (MW 4 February) raised some interesting opinions on harnessing the power customers yield effectively.

I particularly agreed with Simon Middleton that we only hear about the success stories. Influencer alchemy is a dark art, based on predicting how groups of customers will behave, making this a risky strategy, particularly in today’s multimedia, immediate world.

It is therefore vital for organisations to minimise risk by ensuring all their customers are made to feel valued, all of the time, not as the basis of a campaign. Consumers are not stupid, give them the special treatment for no apparent reason and they’ll cotton on – there are scores of examples of bloggers outing brands that have attempted to hoodwink them into becoming a positive mouthpiece.

In terms of maintaining a customer relationship there is no better way than through the provision of editorialised branded content, both on and offline. Brands that engage, inform and entertain their customers are proven to have stronger relationships, which in turn leads to greater natural avocation.

Before brands dabble with engineered influencer strategies, it is essential to get the basics right – if not, deal with the consequences.

Julia Hutchison, COO, Association of Publishing Agencies

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