Influencers are here to stay and have been for a while. No signs of growth stopping with the influencer industry set to grow to $9.7B (approximately) in 2020. What does this mean for brands? Two common problems are emerging:
Cutting through the noise is getting harder
Authenticity, now essential but difficult to showcase
The long and short of it
Building longer term relationships with influencers is a big part of the solution. Cultivating and nurturing long term partnerships is a no-brainer, but it’s harder to justify the investment (both time and money) when the alternative is a simpler campaign based approach.
Research has shown that the more often an influencer posts about the same brand, the more their audience trusts the endorsement. Questioning the authenticity of a brand partnership becomes a lot harder when there’s a clear history of collaboration with the same brands. An influencer can be a valuable source of insight, and working together as partners over a longer period of time can prove to have results beyond an improved ROI. They have a direct connection to their audience and can even pass along valuable feedback on the reception of previous campaigns to feed into the development of new ones.
At its core, influencer marketing is monetising digital word of mouth. It pays to treat working with influencers as a longer term relationship to nurture and grow rather than a transaction. Just like the balance between performance driven activities and longer term brand love uplift campaigns, a nuanced approach that includes both is needed to realise the full potential of influencer marketing.
Transactional approach vs Relationship marketing
Focus on a single outcome
Focus on brand affinity
Little emphasis on audience experience
More emphasis on audience experience
Low audience commitment
Higher audience commitment
Quality is the brand’s concern
Quality is of concern to all stakeholders
The influencer collective
Another key trend that is highlighting the need for building longer-term relationships with influencers is the growth of the influencer collective. Building squads (or teams) of influencers is an integral part of maintaining an always on advocate strategy. A community of influencers, all with their own unique spin, coming together to showcase how a brand aligns with their values – covering a wider range of audiences.
Think of them like the Avengers, and when they collaborate on a post together, it’s like the crossover event their audiences didn’t know they needed. Here at Found we helped build Team Marley, a group of 33 influential musicians and artists on social media. Over the course of our campaign we worked with them on content creation, brought them together IRL for Boardmasters and ended up expanding audiences significantly. Investing the time in building those relationships meant that we could go bigger and bolder every time, go team spirit!
The influencer investor
Some brands are past embracing influencers, offering them investment opportunities with a seat on the table, giving rise to the influencer-investor. If an influencer believes enough in a product to invest in its success, surely that’s a stamp of approval that’s hard to put a price on. The influencer-investor is something that’s gaining in traction for the mutual benefits for both parties. Influencers invested (either in the ongoing relationship or with a stake in business performance) are less likely to phone-in a low effort post. With the social-savvy they bring, they can even have a hand in product development and wider business strategy. We’ve seen this trend with celebrities putting their money where their mouth is when promoting products, and it looks like the trend will trickle down to influencers.
With celebrities trying their hand at building online empires, it only makes sense that influencers will follow suit and more and more of them will be making brand relationships ‘facebook official’ and sign on the dotted line to become truly invested in a brand’s success.