In this guest post, Pulse Communications head of digital advocacy, Erin Murphy (pictured below), reveals the value of brands who find and work alongside the right influencer…
We’ve all been there, scrolling through our Instagram feed and landing on an overtly branded piece of content, usually an influencer holding a product with all key brand messages not-so-subtly articulated in the copy and a multitude of hashtags. The problem is today’s consumers are savvier than ever before and see right through it and as a result brands risk losing credibility when influencers are clearly bought at mass scale.
Relationships matter more than metrics
Successful marketers would agree that no advertisement is more powerful than an authentic influencer endorsement. So, how do we cultivate the stories they can tell for us? Quite simply – through human design.
Our influencer approach is all about treating influencers as an extension of a brand – a member of the team, a creative expert. We leverage our relationships to unite brands with the right influencers, opening the doors to craft relevant, creative content designed specifically to resonate with the target audience and drive true reach with the audiences that matter. Of course, data literacy is important, but naturally, no one knows their audience better than the influencer themselves.
Compelling content is designed by humans, for humans
We’re living in a rapidly evolving, automation-obsessed world. But fundamentally our human behaviour hasn’t changed. People will still turn to other humans to navigate the world.
To nurture meaningful relationships, it’s always important to identify our audience – who influencers them, who is already advocating the brand. A significant number of influencers (49 per cent) said they post organically about brands before eventually engaging in paid partnerships with them. My advice: identify existing brand advocates. Genuine influencers are probably already influencing for you and already love your brand. So, it’s important to design with them, not for them.
The most successful campaigns are the brain-child of our brands’ existing advocates. For example, we identified the biggest foodie-inspired egg enthusiasts in Australia to become our recipe masterminds for Australian Eggs. Bespoke Insta-worthy dishes resulted in a 63 per cent increase in engagement on Australian Eggs content, and a 70 per cent higher click-through rate to the recipes on the brand website. To add to this success, Australia’s foodie media were hungry for new and innovative recipes and we secured 500 pieces of coverage as a result.
The best results come from influencers flexing their creative muscles
When asked how brands work with them, only 29 per cent of influencers said brands asked their opinions on content for a campaign. Most brands are clearly missing out on the key to successful influencer marketing: giving the influencer the keys.
Our best performing piece of Ford Australia content was the result of giving Jordan of How To Dad the keys (literally) to the Ford Everest. He was able to take the vehicle viral with his comedic style video ‘How to Wash a Car with a Baby’ achieving more than 4.5 million views. YouTube, Reddit, Sunrise and The Project all featured the video on their homepages. The key to Ford Australia’s social success is co-creating with influencers, giving them creative flexibility to produce content in their own native style. Designed specifically for their audience. Our authentic influencer led content strategy has helped crown Ford Australia ‘The most loved auto brand on social’.
It’s all about the business of getting personal
It’s all about relationships. Relationships drive resonance. The relationships you create, relationships you foster, relationships you leverage to design, relationships that are long lasting.
Influencers are becoming equally savvy to new ways of working, with most credible talent only engaging in ongoing partnerships. I recently attended a Vogue Codes panel discussion and heard Amanda Shadforth of Oracle Fox declare just that: if a brand approaches her for a one-off engagement, she declines it on the basis it’s not a true and authentic partnership.
I think of an influencer partnership like a marriage. To find your way in it’s about understanding their (dating) profile and getting to know them on a personal level. Who they are and what they share is personal.
Next time you have influencer marketing budget, think about not just using influencers to achieve numbers at mass scale. Instead, consider cultivating authentic relationships and designing content with influencers that drives resonance, not just reach.
It will take your campaign further than you think.