With a number of high-profile failures behind us (Kendall Jenner & Pepsi quickly springs to mind), many have begun to suggest we have reached saturation point on influencer marketing. Consumers are wiser and more sceptical than they were when the trend first began, and both brands and influencers have been punished when they’ve behaved badly. But to write-off influencers altogether would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Addressing the purchase barrier
As it stands, the benefits outweigh the costs. Influencer marketing at its most powerful allows brands to engage with consumers in a more approachable and engaging way. Rather than creepy ads following consumers around digital platforms, it means brands can feature within content consumers they have actively decided to follow, meaning they won’t be ad-blocked or resented.
Here at Threefold, we have recommended the use of influencers as a strategic solution to certain campaigns, but we certainly don’t think it is a box for all brands to tick. Let me give you some examples where we believe it has worked well. Last year, we supported the launch of the Samsung S9 at Very with a vlog from Emily Canham, a leading beauty, fashion and lifestyle guru in the UK. Working with Emily for this particular launch really made sense because she was able to highlight the features that would be most important to our target audience, showing them how the product was relevant to her life, and theirs by extension. In other words, her perspective was much more valuable to potential shoppers at Very than the tech lingo they might otherwise have to decode. View the case study here.
The Influencer must have a genuine credible connection to the product
Moreover, we have learnt to keep the (potential) shopper at the heart of the design, and the medium in mind. Smart use of social media means adapting content to each channel knowing they are used differently. For example, we know Facebook viewers will likely lose interest and leave if a video is longer than two minutes where as You Tube can house much longer content.
But in order for it to work well, brands need to choose influencers who have a genuine, credible connection to their products. The match must feel authentic, and influencers must be honest with their audiences – disclosing relationships with brands up front. For example, Nike always partner with inspiring athletes such as Katarina Johnson-Thompson in-line with their brand mission ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world’. Nike are a great example of a brand that have a through-the-line approach, leveraging their influencers to help drive brand growth in specific retailers whose shoppers they know the influencer will resonate well with.
Prioritising engagement over views
When selecting influencers, it is far better to focus on engagement than followers. CampaignDeus’ recent survey found that influencers with fewer than 100,000 followers achieve on average 60% higher engagement than those with six-figure fandoms, which should come as no surprise. Depth of interaction is always going to be of higher value because influencer marketing is about so much more than just reach.
Rather than viewing influencers as a one-off deal, it makes sense for brands to build long-term relationships with specific influencers who are a right fit for them. The content will be all the better for it, feeling more genuine and less transactional, and allowing consumers the time to really buy into it. Treating the content as a collaboration and ensuring the influencer is involved from beginning to end will help it feel more organic and natural. Their value is in their voice, so why not let them use it?
Whatever the doomsdayers may say, the brands that will reap the benefits of influencer marketing will be those that view it as a strategic partnership, and not a means to an end.