Influencer marketing has been a hot topic recently, with a lot of conversations being dominated by influencer fraud — we’re currently working in an environment that not only makes it easy for influencers to fake their way to success, but also rewards it.
It’s never been easier to garner fake followers and something that we’re seeing a lot of recently are accounts following and unfollowing hundreds of people at a time in order to bolster their own audience. And this leaves us pondering, do these people really hold any influence over anyone who follows them, or did everyone just follow them back to be polite?
The emergence of influencer platforms that let you fire out a brief and receive branded content within a few days is obviously an attractive concept, but will a single post have any impact? Do their followers care about the caption or the brand messaging, or did they just give them a quick double-tap whilst scrolling through their feed?
There are few brands that can benefit from short term sales success via influencers, fashion is an industry where, aesthetic alignment of product and model sells. Brands in this space can also look forward to shoppable instagram which, will enable them to directly prove sales — making instagram stars prove their ROI beyond vanity metrics.
Where more complex buyer cycles exist, behavioural psychology tells us that syndication is not enough to convert. As consumers we have too many questions, for them to be answered in a single post; an assessment of authenticity, rationalisation of the promotion, evaluation of how our purchase will be understood by our peers. Using influencers as a new type of media play is short-sighted and simply not addressing these fundamentals — brands are briefly renting audiences (albeit from talented creators) and forgetting to build their own.
However there are brands that are flipping the industry on its head, their process brings the influencer into the fold before the brief has even been written. Brands such as Marks & Spencer and Converse are fostering an environment of co-creation and creativity that involves influencers from the very beginning of the marketing process, writing the brief and agreeing on key deliverables and messaging together — after all, who knows what will work in an influencer’s feed more than the influencer themselves?
So what will this achieve? Making your influencers work harder and immersing them into your brand will ensure that your influencers are genuinely aligned with your brand and your values — no more paying people to pretend to use your stuff.
Co-creation and collaboration is where new-thinking comes together. Brands need to take control of the relationship between their creators, who ideally are legitimate fans of the brand and side step any agency or platform offering a simple and seamless solution. Building great relationships is often complex and takes time and transparency.
The end result with also be a whole lot more authentic, rather than brands dictating a one dimensional brief that influencers shoehorn themselves into, influencers are able to bring knowledge of their audiences to the table to deliver realistic content, with a genuine tone of voice.
These kinds of long term partnerships also deliver greater return on investment, since the average user consumes 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision, why would you expect a conversion from a single post?
The approach of creating a people-first experience when delivering content ensures that any assets evoke a sense of inspiration rather than aspiration — real life content that people can actually relate to will allow you to create meaningful connections with your audience, rather than posting unattainable overly-polished content that leaves us feeling like we’ve not got our shit together.
If we’ve piqued your interest and you want to have a chat about content marketing or social media, feel free to get in touch; firstname.lastname@example.org.