The rise of the influencers

How to engage with them and create a successful campaign

It’s hard to know who to blame really. The brands for giving their stuff away. The people who are convinced to buy stuff because a vlogger says it’s good. Or the influencers themselves.

Whichever it is, the fact is that we as marketers have become increasingly reliant on celebrities and powerful figures within industries. We want their seal of approval, their voice and most importantly, their audience.

But it’s really easy to get influencer marketing really wrong (shoutout Listerine). The consequences start at ridicule online and can end with proper brand damage, as both the influencer and the public get narked. So here’s some tips on using influencers well.

  1. Pick the right voice
    Influencers are big news right now. But they’re not necessarily new. Vloggers like Zoella, Instagrammers like Lele Pons and Kardashians like Kim are an update on a marketing trick that’s been going on for decades, if not centuries. Everyone from Marlboro Man to Gary Lineker classes as an influencer. Even the Queen is used as an influencer by the brands that plaster the royal seal across their product.

    It helps to have a decent contact book at your hands. But you can’t rely on any old endorsement. Good influencer engagement rests on finding an authoritative and appropriate voice for your brand. So it’s no use having Little Mix represent your internet security company.

    Think about who you’re working with, what they mean to your audience and how they fit with your brand. If you can tick all three boxes, send them all the free stuff you want.

    We do this by using influencer identification tools – all of which are industry specific. Our aim is to get the brands we work with participating in relevant conversations online, which drives key prospects back to their websites or to relevant content.

    Then we create opportunities for key influencers who’ve engaged on social to continue their relationship with a brand through stuff like guest blog posts, articles for their website, a speaker platform or a product trial. All things that get a great voice that bit more engaged with a great brand.

  2. Do the leg work
    Influencer marketing is rarely as simple as asking for an endorsement and watching the sales figures go up. You’ve got to be strategic about it. And that means doing a lot of background work that goes unseen, but makes campaigns work.

    This ties back to picking the right person. You need them to understand your business and your product and vice versa. You also need to research what kind of thing your audience will respond to and what’s worked in your industry before.

    When that’s done, have a think about what you want to get from your campaign. Most likely it’s brand awareness you’re after with an influencer campaign. So what’s the next step in the buyer journey? You need content set up in the way of eBooks, blogs and webinars for people to engage with. Then it’s a question of how you’re going to nurture the new leads you’re generating.

  3. Stay compliant
    The more influencer marketing becomes a thing, the more cases there are of people getting in a spot of bother by failing to disclose a commercial relationship – even if it’s just forgetting that tiny #ad from a sponsored Instagram post. (Whaddya mean Little Mix were just plugging that IT security company for cash?

    Ensuring compliance is your job, as well as that of the influencers you’re working with. This comes back to a further point about influencer marketing – authenticity. You’ve got to balance a compliant ad, with an authentic ad, with an effective ad. If you can, your influencer campaign will stand a better chance of success.

  4. Measure and manage
    All social platforms provide a way for businesses to analyse the results of their marketing work. But for the most part this will be limited to stuff that’s happened on that platform.

    The point of an influencer campaign is that it begins on one platform and organically reaches others, as people listen, read, watch and share. So it might be the case that you’ll need more analytics tools than the stock kit offered by the various social platforms. Not only will this allow you to learn the impact of the campaign, you can also tweak things as you go.

We’ve been working with influencers across industries for years. Find out how we do it, with our Lloyds Bank and Pindrop case study.