How do you use Influencers to Reach Gen Y & Gen Z?

CNBC recently published an article on influencer marketing to reach younger generations. Seeing as how I run an influencer marketing service, I decided my opinions may be worth something to someone. Here ya go! :)

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Question 1: Why are online influencers the best way to reach millennials & Gen Z?

Influencers are trusted (by consumers), timely, cost effective & speak the right (consumer) language. These younger generations have grown up in a time that has caused them to doubt the traditional systems, they don’t trust mass media, and they have technology that puts all answers at their fingertips. Therefore, they value real-time, real talk information from trusted sources — influential tastemakers singing a brand’s praises online (and providing links to purchase) hits the proverbial nail on the head and actually leads to purchase instead of old school metrics such as “brand awareness”.

Question 2: How is the kind of creative they come up with unique compared to traditional ad campaigns?

Letting trusted peers speak to people in a real way yields unique creative that actually resonates with consumers, as opposed to ads that simply incorporate the buzzwords most mentioned in focus groups.

A current example of a brand that “gets it” → Heineken recently supported The Subway Symphony, an initiative to turn (annoying) NYC subway sounds into music, as part of their overarching effort to connect better with younger generations. Based on their research on these generations, they knew to let James Murphy lead the initiative (with their budget) since he was the influencer with the idea, instead of just putting all that money toward ads on the walls or trains.

Here’s a more detailed logic (as I see it) on the difference between agency-created and influencer marketing-created campaigns:

  • Traditional: Agency creative involves focus groups with target consumers, followed ~3 creative iterations, based on feedback from ~7 professionals (~3 of which are in target demo), driven by their 70+ years of (partially irrelevant) combined experience. This yields creative that takes all this experience into consideration to build an award-winning ad (not necessarily revenue yielding) that David Ogilvy himself would be proud of. The problem is this takes a lot of time, money and isn’t necessarily relevant to the target.
  • Using Influencers: An influencer campaign involves people (influential tastemakers) that are relevant to the target consumer being briefed on the brand and the campaign goals — then they do the things they do every day, that reach and influencer millions of (relevant) fans, and put out creative that leads to engagement and purchase.

As always, take my recommendations at your own risk, as there is much more to it than what I’ve written here. Ask any questions in the comments or email me at for FREE HELP on your own initiative! #PeopleHelpinPeople


“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been” -Wayne Gretzky

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