Our approach to Influencer Marketing.
Influencer Marketing; a fairly new concept in the world of social advertising, and yet there’s already talk of bubbles bursting. Some people are no longer buying in to it. So why are brands still investing so heavily into influencer campaigns?
When Influencer Marketing is done right, there are significant value drivers it can bring to your business, such as:
Reach: Working with influencers is a sure-fire way to reach people within your target audience, allowing you to take control of your narrative and how you’d like to be introduced.
Reputation Management: The rise of Twitter and public reviews being available on social media forced brands to up their Customer Service game, and this is no different. Influencers with engaged communities have the ability to discuss their experiences of your brand, and even persuade those who have had negative experiences to give you another chance.
Content: Brands often overlook the fact that influencers are also content creators. Working with the right influencers can result in rich lifestyle content, which can supplement the product-led content you are likely to be producing.
Website Traffic (and Conversion): It started with influencers sharing links in their blogs and Youtube descriptions, and now you can swipe up on Instagram Stories and even include shoppable tags; working with the right influencers can add direct return on your investment.
Now, let’s talk about the word on everyone’s lips when talking about Influencer Marketing; Authenticity. Earlier this year, the Advertising Standard Authorities (ASA) released influencer guidelines, cracking down on transparency between an influencer and their use of product promotion on social media. Now, even being gifted with a product, but not being paid for the content, counts as an ad. Even promoting your own product is an ad. (Founders, take note!) Anything which constitutes as an advert must be clearly labeled.
With these guidelines now in place, naturally, influencers are being questioned about the “A” word. Before paid partnerships came into play, if you followed someone who recommended a product or a service without any incentive to do so other than to share with their followers, would you trust their recommendation? Most probably. Why wouldn’t you? Now, if someone you follow promoted a product because they’ve been paid to, would you trust them? It’s a tricky one.
Younger, socially savvy generations are clued up on what it means to be an “influencer” and therefore the need to be authentic is increasingly important.
“Celebrity sway over Gen Z is, in fact, very limited if the celebrity is trying to flog something outside their realm of expertise, while influencers with mega popularity are downright unappealing.” (We are Social).
I think this is true, to an extent.
Social media users are aware of brands putting money behind content to sell to them, and yet they still buy from them, for a number of reasons no doubt; You like the look of the product perhaps. Maybe it fulfils a need or solves a problem.
In 2019, social ads are often your discovery tool. Facebook will serve product ads to people who want to see those particular items. Whilst a genuine interest in an influencer is definitely important for some things, sometimes just seeing something you like is enough to incentivise a purchase or product trial.
From the perspective of a 20-something year old who has been glued to a computer screen from a young age, online shopping is one of my downfalls. Especially with the introduction of platforms like Klarna, I could be ordering clothes online as much as several times a week. (Yes… I know.) If I were to see a paid post from an influencer wearing an outfit that looks great, do I need to trust their personal judgement and opinion to go and buy that outfit? No. But I think if I really admired the person, then that would probably increase my chances of buying the product - like if you saw your favourite celebrity showcasing the latest trends. You’re likely to follow suit if you have a genuine interest in that person.
Or, take paint for example. Painting your home is a big decision for some; it’s time consuming and costly. If an influencer posts a picture of a pot of paint saying “Love this paint, thank you Dulux! #ad”, this may not be enough to sway someone who is already a huge Farrow & Ball fan. This is where product expertise and showing genuine brand advocacy is really important. If the same person was an interior expert and shared the same message, you’d be more trusting, wouldn’t you? Even further, what if they painted their house with this product and the copy included reasons for how and why they went about it? Well, it certainly has more potential. You wouldn’t voluntarily paint your home with a paint brand you didn’t trust, even for a price, which is why followers are more likely to believe this influencer on their decision and perhaps consider it for themselves. (Whilst you’re here, check out how we did exactly that on the launch of Valspar’s “Love Your Colour Guarantee” - it’s a real page scroller!)
What’s our approach to Influencer Marketing?
We often get asked if we have “a little black book of influencers”. And the answer to this is no. A book of names who can do you a quick, cheap (or even free) favour isn’t really our style. We believe you have to truly get to the bottom of a brand’s challenge, solving these problems with efficient and effective social strategy. That is why we make sure we recruit influencers who are experts in the relevant field, are credential in the area we need them for (e.g. website traffic, community engagement, reach or content creation) and match them up with a brand that they either already know and love or just haven’t discovered yet but fits their values. If you want the brand’s audience to resonate with the product the influencer is advertising, a little black book is not going to do that job for you.
In short, influencers are definitely a shoe-in to getting your product out there. Peer to peer recommendation will always champion corporate recommendation, even if it is monetised. Authenticity may have less importance with quick, impulsive purchases (e.g. fast fashion), but if you are trying to convey a deeper message, the person you choose to do that for you is crucial.
Emotionally led campaigns are the way forward - if a trusted influencer, an expert in their field, can make their audience feel something with their branded content, then you are moving in the right direction.