Chloe Hutchinson and Erica Vonderwall, Outreach Managers at iProspect UK, discuss the role of influencers.
The latest crack down on social media influencers by the committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has really reiterated the difficulties with working with influencers from an 'earned and owned' point of view. The tactics we employed as the outreach team of an SEO agency five years ago are certainly not the same tactics we would even consider these days, and influencer marketing is one channel that is going nowhere – forcing every marketer to reassess just how we can, and should, be using Influencers in marketing campaigns.
The last five years or so have really shown how immensely a platform like Instagram or YouTube can change the way a whole industry of people decide to share their content with their audiences – and have even spawned a new sub-industry of talent management specifically for the influencers in these areas. Dentsu Aegis’ Gleam Futures have been and the forefront of this explosion, and have managed to not only lead the pack when it comes to signing on the Internet’s biggest and most influential names, but have also been essential to the shaping of the industry’s best practice in how to work with these people.
Influencer marketing is essentially just word of mouth promotion via social media. The downfall of this is when brands try to leverage an audience by paying for what they want, not what’s real. The latest ASA rules have combatted this somewhat, by ensuring that an influencer makes it clear in their caption if (and when) a post is paid for, and in what way.
The best option is also the most obvious: if you want to work with social media influencers, they need to align with your brand already. When a brand collaboration appears natural – whether paid for or not – is when the best engagement and conversion will happen, and when you have a genuine chance of reaching a new audience. Ultimately, this will deliver a better return on investment too.
Content Creators and Experts
Co-creating content with influencers from the beginning of a project has helped us launch some great campaigns. Influencers are often seen as experts in their field and can ultimately help the reach and impressions of a campaign, as their engaged audience is being leveraged throughout the process too. At iProspect UK we have used content creators in a number of ways, from workshop hosts at press events and case studies for publication, to market research assistants and recipe developers – to name a few. Having invaluable insight from those considered to be “in the know” by a shared audience is one of the simplest ways to ensure that any content campaign is not only legitimate, but will also resonate with the shared (brand and influencer) audience.
There will always be a level of uncertainty when it comes to influencer marketing – from both sides, as the consumer is savvier than ever at spotting a blatant marketing attempt, and influencers have more than just their bank balance to think about when accepting work. More and more, influencers are leaning back towards authenticity in their collaborations and creations than ever, with large audiences of people deserting once-loved influencers for 'selling out' over 'keeping it real' with them. And, when you consider some of these influencers have been building these audiences over years of honing their craft, is it any wonder they’d rather keep their values (and audiences) intact?