Don’t just throw money at hot influencers – get a strategy

There's an art to successful influencer marketing, argues Social Squad's Kee Reece. The days of mindlessly throwing money at ex-reality TV stars are over, and you need a strategy.

Brands can no longer afford to keep rolling their eyes and hoping the influencer bubble bursts. The phenomenon is here to stay. With 85% of consumers likely to purchase from a trusted recommendation, it’s no surprise that the industry is projected to exceed $8bn globally by 2020.

But the days of paying to lob a product into the hands of a hot person on Instagram and hoping for the best are all but over. In 2019, influencer marketing is nothing without strategy. Getting it right can pay off big time and send significant numbers of new customers into your sales funnel. Getting it wrong, though, can damage a brand and waste precious marketing resources. So what does a successful influencer strategy look like?

As social platforms have matured and become more sophisticated, so too have consumers and the way in which they want to be marketed to. With this maturity comes the need for marketeers to treat influencer activity as a legitimate tool, one that requires a clear strategy.

Gone are the days where brands can throw the minuscule off-cuts of their marketing budgets at bikini-wearing ex-reality TV stars to create Instagram content, and see a direct uplift in sales. Or website traffic. Brand affinity, even. The brands that are going to win this newly-matured influencer marketing consumer are the ones who take a strategic approach and create meaningful relationships. And there’s an art to doing this effectively.

You need an integrated strategy and execution

Without integration, brands run the risk of message fragmentation, which can reduce the overall effect of branding and, ultimately, brand equity.

Considering influencer activity in the early stages of your strategic planning allows you to be holistic.

By integrating the strategy early, brands are afforded the time to optimise cross-channel initiatives and leverage the big spend activity with influencers.

Timing is everything

As you launch campaigns across various mediums, it’s crucial for your influencer marketing to echo these ideas to form succinct communications. When planning the framework, consider the timing, order and way cross-channel activity is executed.

These initiatives go on to form various consumer touch points through which the brand or product story are told and consumed. Through this recognition, consumers begin to trust and act on these recommendations. Consumers don’t mind being marketed to and appreciate meaningful messaging, which is key to success.

Meaningful relationships equal trusted recommendations

The move towards long term advocacy in the form of ambassadors is one that has been widely reported as a trend for 2019. But with instant gratification a key mechanic of social media, isn’t playing a long game with influencers counterintuitive?

Surprisingly, no.

Growing sentiment around authenticity means that one-off collaborations often fail to provide meaningful impact and ultimately have a negative effect on the perception of both the brand and talent. Pick and stick is a smarter approach for everyone.

We’re more equipped than ever with the tools and insights to determine alignment, legitimacy and brand safety of an influencer, but great talent alone is not enough. The trust between the brand, influencer and audience needs to be cultivated. Find talent who share the same values and see the benefits of building a lasting relationship and invest in them. Together, you will grow brand affinity through the consistency of brand messaging from familiar voices.

Influence needs to be measured

What is the objective and key measurement of success? Defining these elements ultimately determines the strategy for influencer activity.

Consider the impact of a macro influencer versus a micro influencer. Brand awareness versus sales, and the way in which paid promotion or trackable links can facilitate in meeting and exceeding those targets. From there, the objective is clear to all involved. Influencer marketing also affords brands the luxury of learning in real time.

Start at the end. Plan your strategy around what success looks like, then establish who, what and how influencer activity will get you there.

Kee Reece is the brand and influencer manager for Social Squad, Mamamia’s in-house social media agency


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