For pretty much every moment of 2017, we’ve been working on amazing campaigns with all sorts of incredible brands and content creators. What’s more, because our lovely account managers work just like an influencer agency would and are serious in gathering feedback for each campaign, we’ve learned some priceless lessons about what works in influencer marketing. Besides that, the brands who are managing their influencer marketing themselves by using our platform also learned a lesson or two. And, seeing as it’s the time for giving and all that, we thought we’d share those lessons with you.
Influencer marketing is a remarkably flexible friend when it comes to helping brands achieve their goals.
But if you’re just throwing your budget at influencer marketing without a clear objective, then you might as well be advertising your brand by dropping fliers out of a helicopter.
Whether it’s building your brand reputation, enhancing your social media presence or driving good old fashioned sales, influencer marketing can play an important role in achieving these ambitions – but only if you’ve planned your campaign and recruited your content creator with that goal in mind.
For example, when we worked on a campaign with Napapijri last year, where the aim was to drive brand awareness, we took a more inspiring, image-led approach.
But when we worked on a campaign with Dorothy Perkins, where our aim was to drive sales, we had to think about how we could push people from the social content into the website.
And, by having a clear objective, both brands were able to create campaigns that were focussed on delivering a specific result – with Napapijri receiving strong engagement, and Dorothy Perkins seeing an astonishing 63% increase in sales season-on-season.
If you believe all the myths about influencer marketing you probably think a brand can instantly transform their marketing performance by chucking free goodies at a well-subscribed You Tuber. This is, we’re glad to say, nonsense.
It’s true that more and more brands are beginning to recognise the impact of influencer marketing – but these are usually the brands that are making a commitment to build relationships in a new way.
Influencer marketing is, as we say in this blog pretty much every single week, all about the long term plan – and developing a strategy that works towards a more substantial goal than, say, adding 1000 new followers to your account.
And, at the heart of this is the relationships brands build with content creators. This year, we are seeing that brands, like our friends at Eastpak, are sharing their time, knowledge and passion with the content creators they work with – helping them become true believers in the brand’s mission, as well as becoming powerful advocates for their products and services.
And of course, while a return on investment for influencer marketing will continue to be the niggling question at budget meetings around the world, the smart brands are the ones who aren’t simply ‘making it up’ post-by-post.
If there’s one thing that has made us want to back-flip across the office with joy this year, it is that we’re seeing more brands give their content creator partners the freedom to, well, create.
In the not-too-distant past, it would be all-too-typical for brands to treat a content creator like a paid mouthpiece for their carefully (and corporately) crafted messages.
Nowadays, so many brands we see are working alongside their content creators to find the best ideas to get an audience excited.
More brands, of all shapes and sizes, seem to recognize that they’re not paying a content creator for their follower-count, they’re paying them because they are experts in what gets their audience interested, excited and ready to act.
Ok, so this isn’t something we, or you, or anyone involved in influencer marketing should only have been learning this year.
Authenticity is at the heart of why influencer marketing has become such a mainstream, and successful, part of the marketing mix.
In a world that was fast becoming immune, or outright hostile, to traditional marketing approaches, influencer marketing harnessed the power of real people who were earning real trust on social media.
And that trust is anchored in the genuine voice and behaviour of a content creator so that, if they are telling their followers how amazing your brand is in their own words and style, it has a deeper impact.
As Matt Hay from Bulbshare recently wrote: ‘People no longer respond to being told what to buy. They want to be involved, to feel that they are part of the process – to shape the way in which the brands they invest in behave.’
And that involvement starts with an audience who are able to discover, learn about and fall in love with your brand through someone whose opinion matters to them.
That’s why the brands (and content creators) we’ve seen succeed this year are the ones who recognise and respect that this is a place where the story must always come first.
(And, if all is right with the world of influencer marketing, we’ll be saying exactly the same thing about the importance of authenticity this time next year too!)