We at Sociapa, an influencer marketing agency, encourage brands to rethink their approach to influencer marketing. Brands have improved their campaign techniques as influencer marketing has developed, yet a common method of influencer marketing is limiting the effectiveness of these efforts. Here’s what we think companies should consider when utilizing influencer marketing for their brands.
Most influencer marketing strategies begin with a straightforward objective - getting well-known, polished individuals to support a brand in order for the brand to become more well-known. The objectives and Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, that they will monitor during the campaign to gauge its success, are then narrowed down by brand marketers. These brand objectives could be anything from accomplishing a specific sales target to raising brand awareness and presenting the brand to new consumers. Setting goals is a logical first step in developing a campaign strategy since it clarifies the "why" behind your campaign and why it was created in the first place.
The next stage of developing a strategy is where many marketers get stuck. Marketers will choose the social media platforms on which they wish to activate, keeping the campaign's goals in mind as they choose the content mediums they wish to use. When building out a list of influencers to work with, marketers often take into account the influencers' following sizes, engagement rates, and the categories they cover in their content in order to secure the best influencer partners for the campaign. From there, marketers set benchmarks of expected data results that will serve as the means to measure their KPIs.
An influencer marketing campaign's effectiveness is significantly restricted by setting criteria and choosing platforms and content categories before recruiting influencers. While planning campaigns, marketers frequently undervalue the "influencer" component of influencer marketing by emphasising numbers while downplaying the significance of specific influencers. It is simple to reduce influencers to their quantitative attributes, such as their following size, engagement rates, and costs, as the sector has expanded and marketers need to scale up their efforts to meet demand. This makes it possible for marketers to quickly choose a sizable group of influencers who, on paper, seem like they would be good and affordable fits for the campaign.
When choosing influencers, numerical data is crucial to consider, but doing so solely will only give you a surface-level understanding of the influencer, ignoring qualitative factors like brand affinity, content quality, comment sentiment or relationship to their followers, storytelling prowess, and expertise.
The unique qualities of each influencer are flattened to fit the mould of the campaign, rather than marketers utilizing the individual strengths of each influencer to their full potential. This happens when benchmarks are set and the creative strategy is established before influencer selection, including what platforms to activate on and what content types the brand is expecting.
Because of this, advertisements end up feeling out of character with the influencer's content in terms of talking points and creative ideas, and the connection ends up feeling transactional rather than collaborative. These days, audiences are aware of brand collaborations and quick to pick up on the appearance of a forced advertising campaign, which can lower engagement and prevent branded influencer content from meeting the standards the brand originally set out to achieve.
Instead of starting with benchmark metrics, adopting an influencer-first strategy will enable your brand to better focus on the "why" behind your campaign by identifying and collaborating with the key influencer partners who have been chosen for their original content and their capacity to speak in an authentic manner to your brand's target audience. This strategy is likewise platform-neutral, with the campaign determining where to market depending on each influencer's unique profile.
For instance, a campaign may expand beyond Instagram material to YouTube content if an influencer with a larger following on those platforms can be found. By strategically planning a campaign, your company will have the chance to market on several social media platforms, reach a wide range of people, and track multiple KPIs across all of the different social channels.
Aligning influencer and brand values is crucial when using an influencer-first strategy. This entails finding and collaborating with influencers that produce content in the same category as your brand, whose audience demographics align with the target market for the business, and whose persona and beliefs on social media channels align with the brand's voice.
When evaluating influencers, metrics like following size and engagement rates should still be taken into account. However, these figures should be compared to the influencers' qualitative qualities, since metrics like following size and engagement rates are meaningless if the influencer's content does not reflect your brand's identity or speak to your target audience. Therefore, genuine influence or purchasing power is not necessarily directly correlated with a sizable following or even a high engagement rate. Although audiences may connect with an influencer's material and follow them if they are someone they admire, they might not necessarily purchase the things they are promoting. Due to the fact that the numbers do not provide a whole picture, it is crucial to examine the facts as well as go further into their meaning.
The key advantage of using an influencer-first marketing strategy is that the campaign plan will be determined by the unique qualities of the influencers you have chosen. As a brand, you will have campaign objectives in mind and have key talking points prepared based on the item or project you are marketing. But, your creative brief should allow for the influencers' customisation and personalization.
Be careful not to be overly prescriptive when bombarding influencers with demands that leave little opportunity for creativity. Robotic content is the result of repetitive scripts and a long list of posting requirements. Consumers are aware of this type of branded material, perceive it as inauthentic, and usually ignore it as they browse through their feeds. The influencer perceives these micro-managed connections as transactional rather than genuine partnerships, and the brand is frequently dissatisfied with the lack of interaction and general underperformance of such material. Brands should believe that the influencer has the best understanding of their audience.
Instead, provide influencers flexibility in the talking points for creative licence so they can repurpose campaign ideas. When reviewing submitted content, keep an open mind and keep in mind that one of the biggest benefits of working with influencers is that they are intimately familiar with their audiences and therefore are aware of the kinds of content that they will and will not engage with. Establish an approval process that will enable the brand to offer some feedback and remove any content that is truly not in line with the brand's vision for the campaign.
Remember that you hired an influencer for their skill in producing content, so know when to let loose and welcome original content - even if it deviates from the script. The best performing branded content frequently originates from unexpected sources in a world where original concepts are required to stand out in an overcrowded advertising landscape.
Cooperation is essential. Collaborate with your influencer partners to determine the platforms they will use to engage with their audiences and the content kinds they believe will best serve your brand's objectives. Instead of trying to squeeze all your casted influencers into a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter approach, this will lead to a personalised creative strategy that enables for authentic-feeling content that fits naturally within the influencer's specific channels.
Setting benchmark expectations for your campaigns should happen after you have chosen your influencers and collaborated with them to complete the creative approach, including a breakdown of the many types of content they will be producing and the locations where they will be active. S, why do we advise doing this at this point in the game?
Once your cast and strategy are established, you can set benchmarks for your brand that are reasonable, supported by actual historical data, and guided by influencer data from the past. When brands set benchmarks at the beginning of planning a campaign, those numerical goals frequently lack specificity and are based on industry-wide expectations rather than accurate data. As a result, the brand is disappointed with the campaign's actual performance, even though their benchmarks were not initially based on accurate data.
Campaign analytics are crucial for understanding how content performs, but marketers sometimes overstate their importance in judging a campaign's or an influencer's performance's success or failure. Influencer marketing's ultimate objective is to convert social media users into brand customers, however, this is the conclusion rather than the beginning of the marketing funnel. Companies may fall victim to the misconception that influencer marketing shortens the sales consideration process and that consumer purchase paths are made easier by easily available linkages to retailers.
To be told, influencer marketing, like all other forms of marketing, is really all about playing the long game and building a solid relationship between the consumer and the business, with the influencer acting as a bridge. Customers rarely make purchases the first time they encounter a brand or product, but by establishing the influencer as the spokesman and building brand recognition, audiences will eventually be more likely to make purchases on their own. Speaking of using celebrities as spokespersons,
As previously noted, collaborating with influencers on the creative and developing unique tactics with them will turn the campaign into a true partnership, with influencer and brand marketers cooperating to create the strongest possible branded content and forge a cooperative relationship. This prepares the ground for long-term campaigns with numerous posting elements or pulse points, where an influencer ambassador can promote your business and its benefits over the course of months or even years. Having influencers represent your business as ambassadors boosts your chances of converting their audience into paying customers since repetition increases brand recognition and collaboration makes the company an integral part of the influencer's life rather than merely a source of revenue.
Another advantage of the influencer-first campaign strategy is that you may use the influencer-created material on brand-owned channels after hiring influencers whose content complements your brand. You must achieve this by including usage rights and conditions, such as where and how long content may be utilized, in the influencer's campaign contract. In order to maximise the use of influencer-generated content and showcase it on brand-owned channels in addition to the influencer channels, we strongly advise you to pay for usage as part of your overall campaign budget.
As a strategy to supplement internal social media material, some organisations even hire influencers to create content that will only be shared on brand-owned channels. Companies are aware that viewers interact with influencer-generated content more frequently than brand-generated material.
Using paid amplification in your influencer initiatives is another way to increase the value of content provided by influencers. Although influencers frequently demand an additional fee if their content is included in an advertisement, there are many advantages to promoting influencer content.
Since amplification enables businesses to target particular groups and customise calls-to-action to meet particular marketing objectives, it also enables brands to combine the creativity and attraction of influencer-created content with more conventional KPIs.
Also, the material can be amplified to reach audiences outside of the following of a particular influencer or brand. If the content is compelling and appeals to these viewers, they may discover a new influencer to follow in addition to becoming new brand followers, which is advantageous for both parties.
Influencer marketing has established itself as a mainstay of digital marketing, and as long as brands emphasise the collaborative nature of influencer campaigns, everyone will gain from them and the ensuing campaigns will be more effective. This is why the next phase of social media marketing calls for collaboration with an agency like Sociapa which can help build and maintain the relationship between a brand and an influencer.