For marketers with big budgets, product placement in films or celebrity endorsements were your go-to option to build an iconic brand. But with a fragmenting media landscape and consumers spending more time online, brand owners are turning to the self-made “celebrities” of Instagram and YouTube to get their brand endorsed.
It’s the age of the influencer. These individuals have built up large audiences and developed their own brand narrative around their lifestyle or passions. Their audiences are targeted, engaged and invested in their story. As a brand owner, influencer marketing can be your ticket to reaching more eyeballs and adding value to the brand via association. The key to getting it right? One word: authenticity.
Working With The Right Influencers
What people want is the human element – to hear from real people with real lives, who are both relatable and aspirational. They want to hear from someone they’ve come to trust.
Alex Burgess, who heads up The Goat Agency – the world’s fastest-growing influencer marketing agency, knows that partnering with influencers is a powerful way for brands to get out of the algorithm and into people’s lives. The secret to working with influencers, Alex says, is to value quality over quantity. In this case, size definitely doesn’t matter. Instead of just looking at their follower count (think follower fraud), look at how the influencer is engaging with their audience. Are they talking to people in a genuine way? How can you fit your marketing into their narrative that people clearly love? Would a collaboration with your brand end up looking too forced or staged? Listerine, for example, was recently called out for sponsoring an influencer post that the internet mobs deemed “ridiculous” for its obvious inauthenticity which included tortillas to look like pancakes as part of the influencer morning breakfast routine.
Done right, influencer marketing has a lot of potential. If you’re itching to get started, check out Alex’s podcast Using Influencers Effectively, in which he gets into the juicy specifics: matching your brand with the right influencers, metrics you should be measuring, and how to plan impactful influencer marketing campaigns. Think of it as your Influencer Marketing 101.
Call A Spade A Spade
Nobody likes being lied to, and with fake news abounding, it’s even more important for brands to be transparent about the content they’re putting out there. If you’ve sponsored or paid for an influencer endorsement, make that clear and visible to your audience. People are more likely to be outraged and fall out of love with you when they have to read between the lines or worse – be left guessing as to the nature of your content. Ciroc’s undisclosed influencer marketing campaigns are just one example of brands coming under fire for being deceptive about sponsorships.
Respond With Heart
While influencers can help you tap into new networks, don’t neglect the people who’ve already bought into your narrative. Look at how you’re interacting with people who are engaging with your brand online – yes, even negatively. It’s amazing how businesses invest top dollar in social media advertising and endorsements without batting an eyelid, but neglect to engage with comments, tags, and DMs. This is where the gold is. You have the opportunity to showcase your stellar customer service and show people your brand’s authentic voice. Imagine commenting on your favourite brand’s Facebook post and receiving a warm, helpful, or witty response from a representative on the other side. Wouldn’t you tell someone about it? So make sure you’re prompting and responding to all communications with your audience. To be memorable, be timely, effective, and have personality.