Influencers – Micro to macro and all that’s between
2017, in an article published by Forbes, was dubbed “the year of the influencer”. A year which would supposedly focus on micro influencers, macro influencers and all those who fall in between. But buzzwords aside, the emerging market of influencer campaigns is growing even more this year, along with a greater need to implement innovative strategies and focus on measuring more accurately.
Here at MG OMD we have worked with influencers or ‘talent’ as some prefer to be called for a range of our clients on an array of campaigns – spanning from guest posts to product reviews, video creation to attending and covering events. Whether it’s an SEO driven initiative to increase visibility of our clients in the SERPs or a social led campaign to drive awareness of a particular product, working with influencers is something we will only do more. So #MGInfluencerDay was born. A roadshow designed to dive into the world of all things influencer: from supplier networks showcasing why working with influencers (of every level) is essential in this day and age, to hearing directly from the likes of the best talent in the UK such as Tanya Burr and Alfie Deyes. We may not have agreed on what the industry calls said ‘influencers’ (content creators, partners…pick whichever takes your fancy), but we all agree that working with the country’s top talent on campaigns for our clients is the best way to quickly reach new, loyal audiences; meaning the folks at Forbes can now put their crystal balls away and breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Here’s what we learned:
Authenticity is key
The first of our Q&A sessions featuring YouTube stars Tanya Burr and Alfie Deyes reinforced the strategic thinking we already adopt when working on influencer campaigns: authenticity is key. With a combined following of over 9 million subscribers on YouTube alone, audience is the most important thing to talent whose career depends on it. With a loyal following to the influencer comes a reciprocated loyalty from the influencer to their fans, followers, subscribers and community. They’re a trusted source within a particular space and they’re followed for a reason – to be authentic and genuine. This is something that was echoed by both Clemmie Telford (Mother of all Lists) and Anna Whitehouse (Mother Pukka) – two of our parenting bloggers and writers in their own right who joined us for our ‘Art of Storytelling’ panel later on in the day.
And the loyalty of their audiences is just one of the reasons why we like working with influencers on exciting campaigns to reach new audiences. Because when it is a good fit for the influencer and brand, it’s a good fit for their audience. It’s transparent, genuine, relevant and appreciated content that gets people talking about the brand in a positive and proactive way.
Storytelling is changing
Storytelling has always been present in marketing. It’s the messaging in PR campaigns, the metadata on search results, the copy on products, the ‘about us’ on a client’s website. Storytelling is not new but the way in which it is facilitated, is. And that is where influencers come in.
It’s not all about macro influencers
When we think about influencer marketing it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘big = best’. High following equates to high potential reach but it does not guarantee high relevance. Tailoring campaigns to work with the best influencer to fit the campaign and through vertical, relevance and echoed brand values is a stronger approach than just aiming highest for a content creator whose audience the campaign might not resonate with.
For Takumi, the app that lets influencers on their platform pick the campaigns they’re interested in, micro influencers are their shining beacons. The beauty of working with micro influencers? Clemmie Telford stated the key to her content resonating with her audience is due to her relatable, sustainable content which comes from the fact that she’s a normal person just living her life and as her friend and fellow blogger Anna Whitehouse said “I write for people who just happen to be parents.” Emphasising that once again, relatability is fundamental to their relationship with their audience.
More trust is needed
Off the back of working with influencers, micro or macro, the key thing that came out of the panel is that brands need to be more trusting. When we work with influencers we are choosing to work with creators who know their art and platforms better than anyone. Through working with influencers, we are able to reach new audiences and raise awareness of our brands and their products, in the most captivating and interesting way possible.
But we do need an element of control. As marketers how do we ensure that the content created by the influencers we work with is in line with the brand values of the clients we’re representing? For Whalar, it’s all in the briefing process. By being as thorough and detailed up front when commissioning influencers, we’re able to ensure that all loose ends are tied before the campaign even begins. This is a good way to balance giving freedom to the content creators without stifling their creativity but also making sure that it is still on-brand and will do the client proud. Which can help prevent any uncomfortable conversations later down the line should the content be ‘out of touch’ with what the campaign and brand desired.
We’ve got a duty to the audience too
Just as it is the influencer’s job to ensure their content is authentic and the brands they work on are going to be of interest to their dedicated audience, we as marketers have a duty to their audience too.
How do we do that? By ensuring and insisting that we adhere to ASA guidelines and ensure #ad is always present – or a means of disclosurethat means the audience are under no false pretence as to what type of content it is they’re consuming. Whether it’s a social post or a sponsored blog post – the influencer needs to be transparent with their audience and we need them to be transparent with their audience just as much. This was something that forms the basis of how our two final panellists work with talent by platform; Gord Ray – Brand Development Lead at Instagram and Andrea Donovan – YouTube Content Solutions Lead UKI.
Amid all the discussions and changing landscape of working with influencers, one thing is for sure. We still can’t agree on what we call content creators, influencers, talent, partners and ‘influencer marketing’ but we do agree that it is now a core component of a successful brand and media strategy and a way of reaching new, loyal audiences.