Why you should never automate your influencer marketing

As programmatic platforms begin to swallow the ad industry whole, Natalie Giddings, partner at The Remarkables Group, explains why automation isn't the future of good influencer marketing.

Truly great influencer marketing is a remarkable intersection of branded content and leveraging the trusted voices of individuals who have built avid followings. The biggest advantage to influencer marketing – when done well – is the genuine endorsement of a brand by a person who has built significant trust capital with their audience.

Kylie Jenner is HiSmile’s most prominent influencer

The “secret sauce” to a successful influencer strategy is aligning with the right people to co-create content that places a brand in high esteem in the hearts and minds of the people who might want and need that product or service.  

During a recent trip to Content Marketing World in Cleveland, it was clear there was no shortage of influencer platforms promising to automate and make influencer marketing simple. A new platform is launched every week it seems. 

We can see why these platforms are currently in vogue. We’ve met only a handful of Australian businesses who have a dedicated in-house resource to manage influencer activity. These individuals are part of organisations of 300 employees upwards, and as you can imagine their roles are pretty action-packed.  

In addition to this, influencers are still thought of as a bolt-on by many brands, rather than a core element of the overall marketing or communications strategy. As a result, an influencer activity tends to be rushed in at the end of a larger campaign, rather than being baked into the strategy from the outset.

So I can empathise with the temptation to try and condense the time it takes to research, engage and launch an influencer program. The hard truth is that effective influencer activity takes time. And quite a bit of it.

Fully automating a brand’s influencer strategy brings with it a plethora of potential pitfalls, including:

Influencers not fitting the brand/campaign

A large amount of dissection, consideration and negotiation is required to choose the right influencers for the job. Coming up with a winning match between the brand and influencers is a combination of art and science. Several conversations need to be had to draw out the best approach.

Not engaging true advocates

There is no way to identity if somebody is a true advocate for your brand through mass briefing. It does take longer to track down the right people and do the relevant vetting. However, the outcome is always better. Recently we had an experience where on paper an influencer seemed perfect for a brand campaign, and had submitted excellent initial content for the brief. When our team moved on to the next stage of selection, they found a post she had done for a direct competitor’s product only a couple of weeks prior.

Insufficient onboarding

Like any other partners in a marketing ecosystem, influencers need access to the brand representatives to become truly embedded and so the resulting content feels genuinely authentic.

One-way ideation

Crafting the message shouldn’t be robotic, like reading a script. Influencers are co-creators and an effective dialogue is required to build and shape the story to align with their audience, channel or formats.

Lack of consistency

There is risk of not projecting a consistent message. Planning regular, reoccurring reminders of your brand is the very definition of branding. When there are too many messages in too many hands, the power of the brand is lost.  There must be a level of consistency, without putting words in the influencers’ mouths of course.

Brand safety hazards

Background checks need to be done. Brand safety should be considered. Just like you carefully choose where your brand is placed within which magazine covers and websites, shouldn’t you integrate exactly where your brand will land.

There is absolutely a role for automated platforms, and we ourselves weave these platforms into the strategies we create for our clients. However, they’re a tactic that is part of a broader tapestry – that tapestry being the over-arching strategy.

Successful influencer marketing has its own dedicated strategy, which is then brought to life via one or more touchpoints. The risks become real when the brand considers an automated campaign as their entire influencer strategy, believing that if they spend on a campaign with an automated platform, that they have in effect “ticked the box” on influencers.

Like any channel, influencer marketing requires a strategy. There will be occasions when a quick-fire tactical campaign is required, however in order to build true longevity and ROI in the influencer space these should be few and far between.

The old adage “you get back what you put in” has never rung truer.

Natalie Giddings is a partner at The Remarkables Group.


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