Influencer Marketing is one of those terms we see floating around the internet daily. But how does it work? How do you find an influencer? And is it truly worth all the effort? Recently, I took in a panel discussion with some influencers themselves at a recent marketing conference.
The Marketing Theory
If you’re not entirely sure what Influencer marketing is, allow me to explain. In a nutshell, it’s as simple as a brand hiring someone of influence (typically a celebrity or with a large social media following) to say good things about their products. Back in the days of Don Draper, this was simply referred to as a spokesperson. Sounds too good to be true right? Well, in a way it is but not how you might initially think.
Looking at things from the brand perspective, their marketing goal is to find someone of fame (yep, even internet fame…) and then pay them $XX amount of dollars to represent the brand. Broken down further, this could simply be XX amount of dollars for XX number of words. This would be the goal and once the contracts are signed, the wordsmiths get to work crafting “perfect” 30 second pitches and sound bites. If the two align perfectly, this can actually be a very effective advertising tool.
A Risky Business
Any way you look at it, influencer marketing can be a high risk strategy. Notwithstanding concerns over the individuals current and future behaviour (Subway ahem…) negatively reflecting the brand. Well that’s only one part of the equation! Due diligence on the part of the brand is paramount and indeed, background checks are no light-hearted affair. Often the contract involved is not that dissimilar in some aspects to Hollywood’s legendary “slave contracts” – nice right?
Lost In Translation
The second risk factor revolves around authenticity. Will the public “buy” what the influencer is touting and the way it’s being communicated? What I mean by that is there’s two very different and often unintentional ways of sharing the same experience. Let’s just say your target is tweens and teens, so you hire someone of youtube fame whose audience fits your target. Sounds good so far right? There is no guarantee that particular audience will identify with your product. That audience may like the celeb but that doesn’t necessarily translate into liking your product too. Yes the odds look good but you just never really know.
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Is The Grass Greener ?
So is influencer marketing a magical formula? Well, it’s all in the campaign perception which always differs from one person to the next. Not everyone is your ideal client and not every message will resonate as intended with every viewer, no matter how many times you spin the copy. The real key is to deliver the right message so that it resonates, strongly with the right target audience at the right time.
If someone is simply paid an arbitrary sum to contractually appear at events or tweet about a product, then that person often does exactly that. ie: Hi I’m Joel xx from whatevercompany.com and I love my new sneakers. How genuine is that? Sounds like a corny old commercial apart from the “you might remember me from (enter B-list movie)..” Personally, I’m just hearing the cash register ring. With this approach, would I then go out and buy the product? Nope, honestly speaking, I actually feel kinda sorry for the celeb that “sold out” by doing that ad spot. Really. They must need the money right?
Influencer Marketing – Conclusion
Successful influencer marketing comes from fostering a genuine relationship with the spokesperson who in turn truly likes and actually uses the very products they’re endorsing. When that happens, the results can be truly magical. Let’s face it, if we got someone like Jennifer Lawrence or Ellen Degeneres to talk about a product even for a minute – their authenticity shines right through. Now, if only they weren’t so expensive …
So many brands look at a campaign budget and choose to throw a few bucks at some internet famous person just to tout their wares when in truth, the public – for the most part – sees right through the charade.
Remember when doctors were paid spokespersons for cigarettes? How Mad Men is that one ?
Thanks for reading!
Also published on Medium.