Influencer marketing as an accountable channel for success
Written by Rhian Mason, Native & Content Strategy Director, Reprise UK
Influence starts with the consumer. We are aware that our audience trust people they know over traditional advertising channels, we also know that leveraging the persuasive power of influencers can drive similar results, especially when influencers are used effectively as a natural extension of a brands’ voice.
However, in today’s current climate of fake news, media mistrust, and online authentication concerns, it’s more important than ever for brands to uniquely position themselves with an authentic perspective, and utilise influencer marketing as an extension of their voice and values.
Understanding which type of influencer to work with is complex. From micro-influencers to vloggers, celebrities, to social media stars, the fast-changing nature of the influencer marketing landscape has meant that brands require a more strategic approach for deriving value from this channel.
At Reprise, we place Influencer strategy at the heart of our approach for clients, ensuring that it is embedded in the communications process and that there is full alignment regarding objectives and measurement of performance.
Moving beyond short term value
Today, short-term ad-hoc campaigns are becoming less prevalent, with many brands now opting to make influencers an integral part of their brand, utilising long term and always-on partnerships to fully embrace the opportunity to build an ambassador approach that delivers impactful ROI.
The buying power of famous celebrity testimonials is having to make way for a new kind of persuasive power. With only 3% of consumers influenced by celebrity endorsements in their product purchase decisions (Collective Bias; 2017), worth of mouth has shifted towards a more authentic narrative: one that feels relatable, honest, and transparent.
To align with industry best practice, we apply a layered approach to influencer programs. This enables us to strategically map out the unique opportunities of this channel:
The layers start close to the consumer – advocates & micro-influencers are day to day consumers that have small social circles, but are most trusted to give recommendations and generate ‘tried and tested’ reviews.
Mid & high tier social influencers are most prevalent across social, and have a community that engage within predominantly online channels. They have a smaller social circle but much deeper engagement.
Finally, more traditional talent and celebrities have high reach and act as more of an endorsement layer. They are traditionally the ‘face’ for the brand as opposed to the voice.
Influencers and brand safety
Along with navigating the strategic role of influencers, it’s also important for brands to ensure that influencers are fully vetted and their followers align with the interests and attributes of their target consumer.
Safeguarding that an influencer is a suitable fit for a brand involves extensive assessment and research. It’s not as simple as quantifying the reach of their channels – with recent issues around fake followers, bots, and gamification, it is vital to move beyond superficial metrics and fully ‘open the hood’ of an influencer’s audience.
Our database has global reach of over 100,000+ influencers, from micro to celebrities. We are able to run deep dive analysis, looking at social channel insights, fan growth/trends and interest mapping, along with DBI celebrity perception monitoring.
We can also contact influencers within our platform to manage all campaign deliverables. This enables us to easily integrate paid media tactics, third party tracking, and negotiate usage rights of content.
Our methodology involves assessing an influencer’s social footprint online. We also focus on growth over time, if we identify any large jumps or discrepancies in their growth and engagement rates, this can be an indicator of fake followers or bots. As best practice, an influencer’s profile, content, and brand growth should be at a level that yields consistent and quality engagement over time.
Social listening also enable us to look at an influencer’s following not just by demographic or location, but also by interests and affinities, providing us with an in-depth picture of an influencer’s compatibility.
How to drive real value and success from influencer marketing programs:
With a view on the role of influencers as a marketing channel, and a well-researched selection process in hand, the final step to fully take advantage of influencer marketing is to embrace the collaborative process. Understanding what success looks like upfront through KPI’s, as is the process playbook for allowing an influencer to act on behalf of your brand.
As a final take away, here are 3 steps to ensure success:
- Align on objectives.
Instead of asking what we want our influencer campaigns to deliver on (page views, click through, social shares, leads, etc.) we should ask what we want our audience to feel, to think, and most importantly, to do. This will drive the creative thinking and ideas that can help to achieve this desired action or behaviour.
- Authentic connections matter.
With a backlash against celebrity endorsements and a growing demand for disclosure and honesty, consumers have become increasingly empowered. They don’t want to feel overly ‘influenced’ by branded influencer content. Instead the value exchange comes from content being authentic, trustworthy, and relatable. This peer-to-peer dynamic is key for brands wanting to connect with consumers authentically.
- Treat influencers as an extension of your brand.
When working with influencers, the best results come from prioritising relationships over automation. An effective balance is achieved when the brand maintains an element of control without compromising the authenticity of the influencer’s voice. Treat influencers as content creators and producers, rather than a broadcast channel. It’s only when you move away from this commoditised approach that you can craft something truly effective.