Influencer Marketing Is A Content And Distribution Two-For-One
As 2017 approaches, keep an eye on brands tapping micro- and mid-tier-influencers to create real, meaningful brand content at a massive scale. Influencer marketing has long been considered “content marketing,” but for some reason, it’s still being forced into a box fit for media and distribution. As the CEO of a Los Angeles-based influencer marketing agency, I’m regularly confronted with this misclassification.
With key performance indicators (KPIs) that generally revolve around reach, impressions or views, click-throughs, cost per engagement (CPE), cost per view (CPV) and other quantitative measurements, one of the last measures of success is often the value of the actual content being generated.
Ask any brand marketer how much time and money goes into producing content that is uniquely suited for the platform on which it will live; the answer will be “a lot.” So much, in fact, that many brands’ social media content suffers immensely, either in volume or quality – usually both. But brands that want to compete on social media today need to be creating a lot of content.
Whether they’re micro, mid-tier or celebrity in stature, influencers can help you reach important targeted eyeballs. But first and foremost, influencers are content creators. They are photographers, videographers and writers who are subject matter experts and people experts. It’s time to start thinking of them as an extension of your one- or two-person content team; influencers are a creative and distribution two-for-one.
Connect To And Drive Culture
People-first content is the only content that matters. Gone are the days of crafting creative ideas around your C-Suite-approved marketing objectives. Today we are marketing to people on their terms and we must think creatively with their wants and needs front and center. The most experienced and trusted influencers are champions of this – they’ve built entire communities around being informative, entertaining or empowering, and the best ones are highly selective of the brands with which they partner.
By approaching your influencer and overall content strategy with a people-first mentality, you focus on benefits over features. You focus on story over messaging. And while it may sound counterintuitive to set your fourth quarter sales goal to the side, you are far more likely to achieve it when it’s out of sight and mind.
What are the top trends affecting and/or connecting with your audience today? Are they binge watching “Stranger Things,” suddenly adoring all things nostalgic? Are they creating their own music videos on Musical.ly or connecting with other early-adopter gamers on Twitch? Perhaps they are among the millions addicted to Buzzfeed’s Tasty-style recipe videos (or Nifty, Goodly, etc.). Are they driven by empathy and inclusion or corporate responsibility?
Digital culture moves fast. One of the best ways to keep up is by identifying a diverse group of creators who value your brand and can bring it along for the ride.
Size Doesn’t Matter
There’s a time and place for every size influencer, but if content is your end game, it’s all about scale. Micro-influencers (with a total reach of less than 10,000) and mid-tier influencers (250,000-500,000) are the difference between an entire campaign budget going to one piece of content or 100. Just because someone has a micro audience doesn’t mean they’re lacking in quality or influence. Quite the opposite, in fact. Bonus: You can double down on authenticity by partnering with real people who are real fans of your brand. You can’t measure that kind of value with any Excel formula.
Dig Deep When Choosing Your Influencers
Brands or agencies frequently select specific influencers because the talent fits the persona of the brand, but when you’re investing heavily in influencer content creation, it’s imperative that the content resonates with the audience. Therefore, the better question to ask is: Do the followers of the influencers fit the brand? There are a handful of incredible analytics tools that aggregate and measure consumer activity across the social web to provide deep demographic, psychographic and behavioral data on followers. For example, we found a female health and fitness instructor who seemed to be a perfect match for our nutrition client, only to discover through further analysis that the vast majority of her 2 million followers were young male gamers who were more likely to talk about League of Legends than bananas.
So often we see brands investing in influencer programs only to see the content get lost in the shuffle between departments, never to see the light of day on a brand’s own channels. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that no single department or discipline really “owns” influencer marketing, and many brands’ content teams are still siloed between digital, PR and social. Every team is on a tight budget and every team needs content, but rarely is there true coordination and collaboration to maximize ROI. If brand teams can plan ahead and sync up, they can get real mileage – and cohesion – out of these programs.
Protect Your Ownership Rights
While there are some exceptions, brands should do as much as possible upfront to protect usage rights over any content created through an influencer partnership. The best way to do this is to agree to shared ownership – the influencer still owns their content, but the brand has rights to use the content on its own channels in perpetuity. When working through an agency, make sure its interests align with your own. In some cases, especially with creator networks, their allegiance is to the talent and licensing, therefore, will likely be an additional cost even for limited usage.
In a world where content is king, you need to have a robust influencer marketing strategy in place. 2017 won’t be kind to brands that don’t.
Article Written by John Bohan of Forbes