Avoiding inertia and embracing influencer marketing – a CMOs’ guide
Influencer marketing budgets have increased exponentially year on year since 2010. If you’re a global brand CMO and you’re not doing influencer activity then your CEO is probably asking you some tricky questions.
Influencers are captivating and engaging audiences of millions of loyal followers in ways marketers have never seen before, let alone been able to access for themselves. But for CMOs emerging from 50 years of uninterrupted TV ad buying it’s a scary and confusing time: millennials are watching content in hundreds of different places, ad avoidance is on the increase, OTT platforms like Netflix don’t even have ads. It’s still hard for many to shake that traditional attitude that TV is best, TV makes your brand famous, and that’s all you need to know.
This form of inertia can cripple influencer marketing efforts from the outset, so it’s important for you to be self-aware and second-guess yourself at each crucial stage during the process. Here are a few key dos and don’ts to set you on your way:
DO: Gather data and do your homework. When working with influencers it is important to identify the ones that are able to reach the right demographics and target markets for your brand. Most social platforms can provide you with a huge wealth of information from demographics to watch times.
DON’T: Get bogged down by the analytics. Even though marketers know that they don’t get granular detail about audience or demographics via traditional TV campaigns, there’s a tendency to hold influencers to different standards when it comes to campaign analytics. Ultimately, influencers can’t guarantee 100% of views will be from your target markets, but then again, no one can. There will be wastage.
DO: Engage a range of targeted, relevant Small to mid-tier influencers and some top-tier. Most top-tier influencers turn down around 90 percent of the projects they are approached about, especially if they sound overly complicated and elaborate. Mid-tier influencers are more approachable and often command greater authority with their audiences. Influencer campaigns should be built with multiple influencers that can reach audiences in each of your key markets.
DON’T: Focus on one “edgy” unicorn influencer. Focusing on one influencer for a project means you have no backup if that influencer is hard to work with or if their content underperforms. Edgy influencers may be cool but they carry inherent risk – hence why they’re seen as edgy, whether it’s getting in trouble in the real world, veering off-piste on your campaign, or killing it altogether when they lose interest and drop out.
DO: Keep the content organic, genuine and engaging. The reason for working with influencers is to gain access to their loyal audiences and get them to make genuine and engaging content that thousands or even millions of followers will love and interact with. Organic genuine content will get you a fantastic return, from views, likes, shares, and comments to viewers watching minutes, rather than a few seconds, of paid content.
DON’T: Promote the influencer content to other audiences. Paid views for influencer content don’t cut it. If you promote an influencer’s work to an audience that isn’t already loyal to that influencer, via promotional spend, you can cause a negative response as they just won’t ‘get’ the content.
DO: Let the influencer lead the way on creative. Influencers and their content come in different shapes and sizes, from rough and ready vlogs on the move, to beautifully edited mini-movies. When working with influencers, it is important to appreciate that they know best how to communicate to their audience, and their style of content is their brand.
DON’T: Ask to approve every single minutia of detail. When you start to mess with the content you can creative a negative backlash from their fans, as you’re interfering with what they know and love. So don’t demand final sign off on all influencer content, don’t ask for endless reshoots and certainly don’t try and force a script on them.
DO: Accept that influencer marketing costs money. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, digital marketers had the luxury of getting mass exposure from influencers for free – aka “earned media”. The reality in 2017 is that if you want to make sure an influencer is delivering key messages, using the right hashtag, at a specific time, turning up to your event etc., then you need to contract and pay them for their time and effort.
DON’T: Adopt an earned-only strategy. There is nothing more awkward then arranging a press event or launch, sending out hundreds of invites to the world’s top influencers in your field, only to find that a tiny handful show up and the ones that do keep getting your hashtag wrong!
Influencer marketing and content marketing are projected to be the fastest-growing brand activation channels through 2020 Now is the time for CMOs to emerge from the safe haven of their TV budgets and fully embrace the influencer opportunity. As the above demonstrates, an open, transparent, collaborative approach, combined with some good old-fashioned common sense, is the key to forming successful influencer partnerships this year and beyond.