Everything you need to know about Influencer Marketing
Linking influencers to brands have been done since the early years of PR and advertising. Hollywood stars became the face of a cosmetics brand and later soccer players were prominently linked to sports brands in order to credibly convey the story of a brand, based on their expertise or peer role. Influencer marketing is nothing new. But since the rise of social media and the growth of influential bloggers, Instagrammers, vloggers, and other content creators, influencer marketing has taken off. Nowadays, every decent brand spends a marketing budget on it. Influencer marketing is a hot business. Many communication agencies see a role for themselves or are in the process of doing so. As a brand, how do you set up a successful influencer collaboration in this maze of agencies?
Influencer marketing may be a hot business, but in essence, it is not a new discipline.
Influencer marketing has always been the domain of PR agencies. Anyone who knows the history of PR knows Edward Bernays, one of the founders of PR as we know it today. In the 1920s, he managed to get women to smoke (which was not done at the time) by linking a socially relevant issue, namely the feminist wave, to a product, namely cigarettes.
Bernays discovered that women saw cigarettes as a status symbol for men – and thus something that suppressed their female desires – and therefore made cigarettes the symbol of independence for women. He organized a march of smoking women through the streets of New York and invited all the journalists he knew to record it. The beginning of the consumer society and the beginning of the use of influencers.
In order to determine which agency is the most suitable for your campaign, it is advisable to determine in advance which objective you want to achieve with it. Then you can decide which agency is best able to achieve that goal. This requires insight into how the various agencies approach influencer marketing.
As mentioned before, influencer marketing has always been part of the work of PR agencies. PR professionals think essentially from the relationship of the brand with different stakeholders (in the longer term). These can be online influencers, but also employees of a company, governments, scientists, interest groups and consumers.
Online influencers are therefore part of a network of stakeholders who, through a combination of unpaid, paid and shared attention, convey (news) stories of a brand or product.
Broadly speaking, we can say that advertisers traditionally think in stories that are interwoven with means and channels to bring a brand-wide and fast to the attention of the public.
In general, media agencies are used to achieve optimal attention value by using (a mix of) offline and online media channels. These are therefore paid campaigns for which the highest possible reach must be achieved at the lowest possible cost.
There are different types of influencer agencies. Roughly speaking, you can classify them according to those who have their own exclusive network of influencers and those who deliberately choose not to do so. Both options have advantages and disadvantages.
Agencies that do not have their own network, reason from a brand. What is the best influencer that will help the brand to get the message across? One is not necessarily better than the other. The agencies with their own network have to select from their own pool. The advantage is that in general the biggest influencers are connected to them and they have short lines with them. Because of this, they know these influencers and interfaces with a brand like no other.
Tips for an effective influencer marketing strategy
Enough about the differences between the agencies. How do you set up an effective influencer marketing approach as an advertiser?
Make sure you get the perfect match
The perfect match between influencers and the brand can still be a problem. Just like in celebrity-land, among online influencers, certain names are mainly known to the general public.
In practice, we see that many influencers are presented to or by advertisers, without first checking with the influencer or his or her agency. The danger is that an influencer is ultimately not interested in this or is simply not the right match with brand and brand values. This does not contribute to the long-term reputation.
We also see that content creators can be very eager on brand partnerships because there is a lot of money to be made with them. And these deals also help them to develop their own platform. But especially in the case of short-term campaigns, one can ask how effective the use of an influencer is when he or she launches a campaign with a competing brand a week later. Surely this is also the case in practice, as we have noticed. As a result, brands seem to be increasingly forced to enter into long-term collaborations with an influencer in order to make it more exclusive.
Don’t focus on reach, create meaningful content
Another tip is to produce meaningful content. Unfortunately, we still often see a strong focus on reach and lesson content. Of course, the reach can help, but in order to generate a real impact with the target group, more is needed, namely relevant content that knows how to touch and move the target group.
In order to be able to create meaningful content, the briefing has to give the influencer enough room for his or her own interpretation. You have to have your goal and your messages sharp, but above all, you have to rely on the power of the influencer to translate this into creative content.
A really good campaign requires an integrated approach. Influencer marketing is not separate from other communication disciplines.
An advertising agency provides the impetus for this with a creative concept for the entire campaign (but leaves room for the translation by the influencer).
A media agency looks at how the creative concept can best be purchased across the board on the basis of measurable objective (reach and/or commitment).
A PR agency looks closely at the fit of an influencer with the brand’s reputation, has an unerring view of social sentiment and knows how to further help and make visible the meaningful content via the right channels (and combinations).
Finally, an influencer agency works as a true intermediary that makes the right match between the (creative) roll-out of the campaign and the right influencer(s), whereby it particularly guards the power of an influencer and his or her authenticity.