Navigating your way to influencer success
If you’ve worked with influencers over any period of time, you’ve probably experienced the good, the bad and the very ugly indeed. This blog post, which I have based on a presentation I gave to the ISBA Communications Procurement Action Group on 16 November 2017, is intended to guide you through the challenges of influencer marketing, in order to make the most of the opportunities.
Influencers are increasingly important
The media landscape is changing in many ways – especially when it comes to young people. Many British YouTubers have become celebrities and media outlets in their own right. Advertisers are dealing with issues like banner blindness, ad blockers (used by 47% of UK 18-24 year olds) and the fragmentation of the media landscape, which all mean that younger audiences are harder to reach. This is why influencers – and their ability to create affinity for a brand and influence purchase decisions – are becoming such an important weapon in the digital advertiser’s arsenal.
But there are risks!
There are multiple risks when it comes to working with influencers – and they centre around four areas:
- Credibility: Picking the wrong influencer can result in a campaign being perceived as fake or inauthentic.
- Affinity: Engagement cannot be guaranteed – and it also can be high for all the wrong
- Relevance: It’s difficult to ensure that your content will be landing with the correct audience.
- ROI: Views and engagements can be predicated, but not guaranteed, so it can be difficult to ensure value.
So how do you make the most of opportunities?
The flip side of all the inherent risks associated with influencer marketing are the opportunities, and they are plentiful if you mitigate the risks:
- Credibility: Trust and believability can be achieved beyond any form of advertising – if you get it right.
- Affinity: Making the most of the benefits of tapping into an already-engaged audience.
- Relevance: Using a passion point to connect with your target audience.
- ROI: Can deliver better on KPIs vs other channels or methods.
When you pick the right talent, and get the brief right, successful content will follow. But how do you choose the right influencer for your campaign?
- Know who you are speaking to: who is their audience and where are they.
- Know who else they work with. Do they have any conflicting brand partnerships, or have they said negative things about your brand in the past?
- Consider how they work with other brands – and how many.
When it comes to briefing:
- Keep it as open as possible – this is about collaboration, not commission.
- Keep it top line.
- Do give some direction – it can help to show a few previous examples content you would like to emulate.
- Include mandatories – usually brand mentions, hashtags, retailer info or ecommerce links.
Affinity & crisis management
When you choose the right influencer and give them the right brief, the outcome can be advantageous for both the brand and the influencer. But what happens when you get the influencer selection wrong? Some of the world’s biggest influencers, from Jake Paul to PewDiePie, have disappointed their millions of fans (and high-profile brand partners) by being exposed for abhorrent views and behaviours.
How to avoid a crisis:
- Make sure you Google them. Are they a wild child, are they feuding with other influencers, and are they the subject of any allegations?
- View their content. And not just the recent stuff.
- Check whether they are part of a clique? Ensure they are not nasty or bullying.
Sometimes, no matter safeguards we put in place, we can back the wrong horse. So what do you do when your influencer goes off the rails?:
- Assess the situation and decide whether the influencer has acted in a way which you cannot support.
- If your influencer has done something truly terrible, you will need to follow this process:
- Notify: Inform that the partnership has come to an end effective immediately.
- Remove: All of the influencer’s content from your own channels.
- Explain: Make a public statement on your channels.
Rather than using one big influencer, multiple micro-influencers can create the impression of a news feed takeover which can drive relevance to your target audience. Get bang for your buck by picking lots of small influencers who can be more economical than one big hitter. Benefit from lower spends and higher engagements.
Choose several from the same topic area – like London foodies or Manchester fashionistas. This can create the sense that ‘everyone’ is talking about your brand, product or event, as users tend to follow multiple influencers about the same topic.
Consider your audiences in terms of geographical relevance. One big London influencer can be alienating to regional audiences.
To ensure your content delivers better ROI than your digital ads you need to forecast and measure accurately. It helps to have a benchmark – your paid media results can stand in here, but you will still need to decide what the x-factors of authenticity, credibility and personal recommendation are worth to you when analysing results.
To ensure value delivery you need to approach influencer marketing as a media spend or brand partnership:
- Set objectives
- Compare with paid results
- Forecast influencer results based on previous
- Understand influencer audience
- Define value
Influencer marketing should never completely replace digital advertising – although they can deliver reach, ROI, engagement and views in comparison with paid digital advertising, but can’t deliver the spot on targeted and brand ownership of digital ads.
Influencers can be a difficult path to navigate, but once you assess the risks and plan to make the most of the opportunities, you can reap the benefits for your brand.