We all have influence. A recommendation from a friend or a third-party expert has always been worth more than a marketing message from the brand itself, and is more likely to convince you to take action and buy the product. Since this personal influence has such a high value, it only makes sense that marketers start paying for it.

This week’s reading list looks at four articles on the state of influencer marketing today, and how brands (including your own personal brand) can benefit from it.

The Influencer Marketing Marketplace

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Speed to scale, metrics, and platform. These are the the three things highlighted in this AdWeek article that will determine your success in influencer marketing. Conceptually, it’s brief, and it’s unashamedly written by a platform vendor. But, nonetheless, it lays out a good business model and justification for reducing the friction in pulling off an influencer marketing campaign.

Collectively Reaching Consumers

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This article highlights Collectively, one a of a handful of companies trying to monetize the influencer marketing space. While most brand influencer campaigns focus on content producers with the most followers, Collectively believes that “a smaller community—say, an influencer with 10,000 followers [in a niche area]—is still always greater than a conversation with someone who has 5 million followers.”

End Brand Spam

This fantastic article from Harvard Business Review does a great job of outlining the new realities of branding in our social age, identifying key brands that are doing it well, some through influencer marketing, and then laying out broad steps for brands to address the new landscape. The underlying argument for this switch in branding and marketing is the realization that,

“…while companies have put their faith in branded content for the past decade, brute empirical evidence is now forcing them to reconsider. In YouTube or Instagram rankings of channels by number of subscribers, corporate brands barely appear. Instead you’ll find entertainers you’ve never heard of, appearing as if from nowhere…”

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They highlight UnderArmour and Chipotle, among others, as brands that are adapting to the new way of marketing, and specifically, they look at “crowdcultures” as distinct audiences to target and engage, using influencers to be their market ambassadors.

The Science of Winning Friends and Influencing People

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Lastly, on a more personal level, here are nine insights on how you yourself can be more influential. It’s highly useful to anyone in sales and marketing (and FYI, Dan Pink says everyone is in sales). Once you really try and implement these seemingly basic tips, you will realize the art of persuasion, and how difficult it can actually be.