Peer-to-Peer Marketing Replacing Salesmanship for Millennials

Forbes recently reported on a brand new trend in brand marketing that is taking the internet by storm. Peer-to-peer marketing appears to be the way of the future in terms of brands working to convey an authentic image to Millennials and create a lasting connection to their goods and services. This article explores how peer-to-peer marketing works and what brands are doing to leverage the most effective influencers in their specific markets. The role of traditional ads and celebrity promotions is not completely over, but it is nowhere near as prominent as it used to be.

The Rise of Influencers in Marketing

The rise of the influencer is a relatively new phenomenon as a product of reality television shows and social media. These people start out as simply average but are catapulted to almost instant fame as a result of their exposure on a reality television show. They would not have otherwise been famous and are not actual singers or actors, but they use their 15 minutes of fame to launch a presence on social media and accumulate as many followers as possible. Some of the most successful influencers have more than a million followers on their various social media accounts.

The reason why influencers want to sign up and keep as many followers as possible on their social media accounts is that they are able to leverage this network for paid sponsorships. Various brands are willing to pay influencers for sponsored posts that feature their goods or services. Influencers are seen as more relatable and influential than traditional celebrities when it comes to the public because they are not born famous. Their level of fame seems like a more attainable status to the average consumer than that of a supermodel or actor.

Consumers are Craving Authenticity

The level of trust that Millennials have for traditional brands is at a low point. They no longer want to feel as if they are being sold on a brand. This is why it is more important than ever before for brands to present an authentic image to consumers in order to retain their business. This is more effectively done through the use of influencers in specific markets who have a more direct connection to the brands’ target customers. The good news for the brands is that these influencers are typically much less expensive to pay for than a traditional celebrity in an online ad.

What is Peer-to-Peer Marketing?

Peer-to-peer marketing sprang up as brands started realizing that it is far more meaningful to a potential customer what their own peers are saying about the brand. While an influencer may be more closely connected to the public than a traditional celebrity, a peer customer is the ultimate endorsement of a brand now. Peer-to-peer marketing occurs when a current customer tells another peer in their network about a positive experience that they had with a brand. This typically occurs via social media engagement so that other potential customers can view the interaction as well and make their own judgments about trying out the brand.

Why is Peer-to-Peer Marketing Even More Effective for Newer Brands?

Brands that do not have an established reputation stand to benefit from peer-to-peer marketing even more than those brands that have a strong reputation in their markets. This is because new customers may be apprehensive to try out a new brand without a solid endorsement from someone they trust. There is no one that consumers trust more than someone who looks and behaves just like them.

The main reason why peer-to-peer marketing is so effective across the board is that it has an entirely different feel than traditional advertising or marketing. It is not like salesmanship at all and is received as more of a way to learn about a brand from credible sources.

What do Peer-to-Peer Marketers Get Out of Engaging with a Brand Online?

Brands have started to realize that they have to provide some benefit to peer-to-peer marketing ambassadors in order for them to continue engaging with and promoting their brands to their personal networks. Instead of entering into formal contract agreements with these brand ambassadors, companies are providing them small perks in order to keep them positively engaged with their brands. This could be in the form of premium access to a subscription service or by sending them an advance order of a new product launch with the expectation that the brand ambassador will share their experience on their social media pages.

The trick to this equation is not giving the appearance that the brand ambassador is being excessively compensated for their representation of the brand. When the perks to the brand ambassadors begin crossing the line to excessive, their value as a peer-to-peer marketer is greatly diminished because their engagement with the brands appears to be less authentic.

The Future of Online Marketing

It may be a bit premature to advise a brand to completely abandon traditional forms of advertising or working with influencers to sponsor their goods or services. For now, this new form of online marketing is considered more of a supplement to traditional marketing methods. However, it could become less expensive to line up an influencer to sponsor a brand post over time as peer-to-peer marketing heats up. This is great news for start-up brands that are relying on typically smaller marketing budgets as they build their online brand presence. Any brand that is going after Millennials as target customers will certainly benefit from a shift to peer influencers over those who have massive social media followings.

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