Brands are hyping up the chatter about working with social media influencers now, however Lewis Shields from comms agency N2N and Fuel Communications, argues in this opinion piece brands need to say bye bye to those who buy followers and only care about their name, and start investing in true influencers.
The label ‘influencer’ has been attached to a whole range of social media personas with varying levels of actual influence. From social natives who have organically bred a digital community around their coming of age, to models who have bought 50,000 followers in an attempt to make them relevant – brands increasingly need to negotiate the true value of influencers they look to engage.
However, the big fat brushstroke that is ‘influencer’ is making it harder for brands to manoeuvre these relationships because there aren’t consistent and aligned expectations of what the value of influence should be.
In my experience the most valuable influencers are those who are interested in collaborating long-term with a brand, have a genuine and organic relationship with it and are invested in developing a mutually beneficial relationship. They recognise that, ultimately, when they are working with brands they’re providing a service – audience insights, creative ideation, content development, publishing and reporting.
Working with these influencers creates something impactful, honest and with advocacy that will create the type of WOM that changes businesses.
It’s the other type of influencer that we need to lose – the ‘social talent’. Social talent is often treated as digital celebrities rather than content partners.
What they sell is their name rather than their skills, generally aren’t accountable to meaningful metrics, and will only engage with their brand partners through their agent – who are often responsible for breeding this mentality (note – I do collaborate with some fantastic influencer agencies).
Social talent may have a significant digital audience and they may create beautiful content – but they don’t care about your relationship with your audiences, and they don’t care about demonstrating meaningful value.
Influencer marketing is a two-way street, and a well-executed campaign will allow the brand and influencer to exchange more than just money. There must be a mutual exchange of audiences, equity and value.
So, personally, I’m saying so long to social talent. Their audiences aren’t going to be swayed by their inauthenticity, their equity is diluted and, most importantly, their value is questionable.