Influencers become the new paid media
From left: Kim Kardasian (zimbio.com), Lebron James (Cavaliers’ site), #tuscan artisans: Fabiana (dressing), Cristiano Ronaldo (The Sun)
Influencers become the new paid media. I have seen Marketers, PR, Channels, and Followers all turning to Influencers, having seen low outcomes in more traditional formats. Is it a panacea? No! It’s not a ready-fix for all, if you don’t have a reputable brand, good awareness, excellent content and omnichannel experiences offered.
Influencers become the new paid media
What a #Tuscan handcrafter has to do with a young e-learning expert, with Kim Kardashian, and a sports-NBA-superstar? You will find them all “living” on Instagram, sharing FB events, and on Pinterest boards.
Behind each post, from simple-value promotion or quote, up to a selling a gadget or an apparel set, these are the influencers, the new paid media. Marketers, smartphone companies, PR agencies fight for an agreement with them. Because each post, appearance, live video is followed by thousands of people, either believers and fans or simply those ‘browsing’ the internet.
Influencer marketing is still a rather new strategy
When I was on the agency-side, influencers’ endorsement was selected more for affluential (niche) luxury brands, those having more upscale budgets, print placements than the mass.
Today the practice is evolving rapidly. Neither marketers nor agencies can tackle the long-view of exploiting the trend (trend for now). Because they try to “box” the influencer under their product or communication strategy.
Influencers should be seen as a long-term activation, as it was always the “public figure endorsement”, that gives to your brand:
- Identification of a figure, expertise, innovation, or special-cause
- A platform for your band values (don’t simply choose for likes)
- Best quality associations and affinity with followers
- Both (brand and influencer) do something unique, otherwise, the content will be ‘fake’ and boring
- Maintain and build THE influence platform, be it for sales, perception, or community relations
The example of Nike and Giannis (“Greek freak”) Antetokoumpo
Giannis heading for its MVP candidacy in NBA is the perfect fit for Nike. It started with a test Instagram post of these shiny cyan shoes that he only wore on court, and now it develops as a communication ownable ‘equity’.
I am intentionally leaving out of this post the so-called influencers, that are either blogging or creating and distributing native content, to push up a brand in online search.
I know they are being employed by many companies now, but I’m not convinced they can deliver quality, respect, amazement, and real engagement to the brand, or that they can create sustainable and really relevant communities.
It’s not going to be easy to maintain
Most marketers as I see in social media do it on an ad-hoc basis, but it doesn’t stand as convincing as it would be to add the influencer marketing to their annual plan. Even in B2B industries, as we have done in Ericsson with the platform of Ideas 2020, inviting global personas talking about the industries’ transformation; not promoting the company’s portfolio.
You need to work to maintain a good relationship with your influencer. Think the compensation, (above all) think what you promote, and promote exclusive news, ideas, innovations, products!
See this interesting video to discuss and share
Video by R+I creative
“Influence only will lead Marketing activations in the next 10 years. It’s the most effective “advertising” there is, and when coupled with solid Content, no TV, Facebook ad-buy can even compare”
Influencers or celebrities?
Here the lines blur; in the digital world, the “me brand” is exemplified by anyone. So judging a celebrity or an influencer is for me a matter of definition. Celebrities have two risks: a) they consider themselves as bigger by any brand (ego-issues), and b) they won’t stop promoting other propositions, now that the internet days spread so much (clutter) info bombardment. That’s your tough call…
The cost is also a parameter to consider: the vast majority (70%) of them charge flat fees per post, or in exchange for free product (they also need to nurture their page…). The remaining percent is after of lump-sum (big?) deals.
But influencers aren’t a one-off sales promotion
Protecting their brand and reputation, influencers, aren’t there for your sales promotion needs and sales volumes. They care more about exclusivity, uniqueness, innovation, forward-looking (new) things …I hope as you do!
The top metric by which influencers and creators measure success remains the number of “follows/likes” their posts get and of course how many click-through to the landing page you have prepared for the sale, event, new product, or e-mail collection.
Identify the right ones
Many B2B brands already know that when it comes to marketing and PR, it’s all about the long tail. A splashy placement in a big outlet might be less effective than a trade pub spot for a brand trying to reach CMOs, for example. The same is true for influencer marketing.
While reach is certainly a factor, it’s better to narrow in and truly understand, first, who the leaders in your specific field are, rather than spending money on big names that might only loosely connect to your message and your brand on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or in other platforms. Are their content and audience relevant to your business? Does their tone align with your own?
Currently mostly on Instagram and FB
If you randomly check influencers, it seems they are more on Instagram mainly and Facebook. That is an effectiveness issue, deteriorating channels-audience-brand type; possibly risking the development of brand content equities, that should work on all own, paid, earned/native media.
Read this influencers’ report
I came across and downloaded a very interesting report for the influencer discovery and content marketing platform #HASHOFF. In its second report, the firm addresses the issue and will help you get more acquainted with it. Download the full report here.
Influencer marketing is a more obvious tactic for luxury, lifestyle and travel brands, but it’s also becoming a go-to strategy for savvy B2B marketers looking to complement their public relations programs. B2B brands might not always be as flashy as a Gucci or Louis Vuitton, but they have many opportunities to engage with leaders in their industries that can amplify their PR efforts.
Some trends you can see around
No1. Quality in content creation will increase since we have changes in all social media platforms and most ‘heavy’ users admit that are using ad blockers… to escape the constant promotion. That’s because consumers are favouring marketing campaigns that feel more authentic and less ‘forced’.
No2. You will need more Trust. Content creators could take years to become well-known influencers. It’s like making long-term friends. You’re more likely to trust your friend of four years more than a complete stranger. First, creators, agencies, companies build trust online, then try to influence.
No3. If you don’t measure, you will fail. Focus on real metrics, insights, and ROI. Brands might continue to ship products off for content creators to share, but the hard question “how can I get my influencer to really drive sales?” without measurement will remain unanswered. Untrackable campaigns are a thing of the past. Search for audience interests, website analytics, trace backlinks and interests.
No4. Brands, still fighting for growth, will be more money conscious. They might see influencer marketing as a lower-cost base, but they will want to invest in marketing strategies that are proven to work and give the best ROI. Forget about agencies or freelancers – only tech platforms can provide that (email management, website analytics, sms, social analytics etc).
No5. Long-term collaborations will rise between brands-creators-celebrities-industry influencers. It can’t be a one-off activity. Brands will realize that they need a strategy to sustain an influencer marketing platform (which product, which offers, which communities, when, why, support). Not only will this help to boost their brand awareness, but it’ll help them building long-term, mutually beneficial audience relationships.
What’s your take? Have you considered how to break-in the suspicious audiences with an influencer marketing strategy?
I will be happy to get your opinion.