Transparency and Trust: Influencer Marketing
It’s not a rare sight to see me power-walking through rain in London – like a real Londoner, no less – no umbrella. In fact, it’s a regular thing for most Londoners: eyes forward, head down, rain coat cinched for the daily post-work beeline trip home. Yet, for social media marketers this past rainy Monday it was an ironic chance to pop out of the office and over to co-working space Rainmaking Loft to get to know some influencer marketing masters.
Social Media Week London, 2017
Social Media Week (Sept 11-15) kicked off with a slew of events to help inspire new campaigns and bring the world’s greatest marketing minds together. The panel talk hosted influencer marketing platform company Takumi – a company that’s motto quite literally tells its star-studded roster of micro influencers to post whatever they want.
Top influencer marketing experts including moderator and creative consultant Ian Sanders, MEC Wavemaker senior planner Tom Cornish, OMD UK’s social director Katie Hunter, Shake Shack social media manager Georgia Beaven, Pernod Ricard senior social manager Sunni Peterson and lifestyle influencer Ornella Kolle (@orneiineii).
The focus of the talk was about transparency between influencers and their audiences and trust building between influencers and the brand they work for. Brands and agencies are often at odds with how to craft this relationship that give influencers complete control over their content or micro-manage the results. It’s a fine, bespoke balance between strategizing the approach and managing the results while letting great content happen in an organic way.
“The key is to treat each campaign on a one time basis. Each one is different. Each one will be different for your brand and it’s important to remember that when looking at your engagement,” says Hunter.
A new method of influencer management.
It’s a more relaxed approach than many marketers are used to let alone ready for. The fight between gut instinct (appeal) and user data is ongoing. As marketers learn that likes, views and shares are sometimes best encouraged by authentic content, the relationship between brands and the influencers they commission continue to change. It’s all about that magic buzzword: authenticity. And really what that means is a new method of influencer management. It’s certainly not without the structure we come to know and rely on (a detailed brief, clear timelines and budgets). It’s more about brands letting go of the creative micro-managing and learning to trust the creatives they’re tapping into.
It reminds me of some of the influencer work that my team at OMD Create, OMD EMEA’s internal creative hub, has worked on with DKNY combining the storytelling and insights to produce social media content on Instagram that’s rooted in cultural trends while at the same time proactive and reactive to consumer interest.
As brands continue to try to be closer to the people they market to, experts encourage them to open their minds to a more human approach to marketing. And while success measuring is important, Katie Hunter suggests that a bespoke approach is key to making sure brands are approaching their campaigns in an intuitive, clever way. Sure, working with influencers can be pricey for brands but there’s also a way to amplify those authentic, influencer voices without having to crack out a big budget.
“The idea of round tables, and one-to-one relationships help you bring in micro-influencers in a cost effective and approachable way,” says Hunter. “You can be clever while at the same time tap into the right audience.”
Clever marketing is all about using the right influencers.
Examples of bad marketing were underlined by celebrity #ad posts by Naomi Campbell and Scott Disick for their wildly viral sponsored posts that went wrong. It’s a warning call for marketers and a reminder that big names don’t equal big ROI. And as a result, micro-influencers is becoming a big buzzword and perhaps the answer to an over saturated influencer marketing pool. The need for brands to work harder and have a more authentic reach and feel to help attract the consumers they are looking for is bigger than ever before.
It was great to get a first-hand influencer perspective as well. Ornella Kolle shared that she tries to make sure that her content makes sense for her, for the brand and especially for her future followers. They appreciate respect for their authentic vision without being told to have overly branded product flatlays: content that’s still artistic and speaks to what the brand wants to give its customers “while still being subtle and beautiful without over the top packaging,” says Kolle.
And isn’t that the basis of artful storytelling?
Here are 5 tips for excellent influencer marketing to take away:
1) Look at customer (discover your brand’s cultural tribes)
2) Employ an always on strategy
3) Look at your amplification plan
4) Trust the influencer and their creativity
5) Understand your audience and appreciate the community your influencer is helping you tap into