In this opinion piece, Patrick Whitnall (pictured below), Publicis Media’s head of content for Australia and New Zealand, shares four key questions marketers need to ask themselves to assess their influencer marketing approach.
In early 2014, Pamela Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty Images, said the media industry was “rebounding from perfection fatigue.” This trend has continued as people demand authenticity from brands and influencers. It started with the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign and has continued with brands like ASOS featuring untouched photos of swimwear models on its website. But do we really care about authenticity, or are we too far down the ‘quest for perfection’ rabbit hole?
From a marketing perspective, authentic and genuine connections are everything. The internet and social networks have given people a voice to share their likes and dislikes when it comes to brand experiences, and they often share them at lightning speed and high volume. So, how can brands make sure they retain true authenticity when connecting with audiences online? Here are some key questions they need to ask themselves:
Are you influential?
Influencers know their audience better than brands do. This is how they built their following and engagement, and it’s what makes them a prospect in which brands want to invest. The true goal of influence is persuasion. If we trust someone, we can be persuaded by them to buy a product or service. Through influencers, brands have the opportunity to build trusted relationships with potential customers and engender loyalty. When selecting an influencer, brands need to be careful not to pick just a big name for the sake of celebrity – they also need to think about who would be a true advocate for the brand and happily endorse their products because they love them.
Is your work Instagram-worthy?
Instagram recently reached 800 million active monthly users and has nearly two million advertisers on its platform. For this reason, it remains a key channel to watch for content development, innovation and impact on ROI. This platform is easy to consume because it’s visual, impactful and a powerful storytelling mechanism. However, brands often rush into using Instagram without determining if they have a story to tell and authentic visual content that showcases their personality. Brands that use Instagram to its best potential, create a dialogue with customers, inviting them to contribute to the brand’s content. If brands do this well, their content appears in people’s news feeds and becomes part of their daily media habits. First impressions are also critical on platforms such as Instagram (to prevent unfollows).
How are you breaking through the star-studded clutter?
YouTube, Instagram and other social platforms have led to the explosion of a new and diverse talent pool. Brands need to choose channels that not only reach the right audience, but also tune in with influencers to whom their customers relate. In the new era of social media celebrity, this could just as equally mean a video blogger as a traditional TV or film celebrity. One example is our work with haircare brand Schwarzkopf and Carissa Walford, who began life as a TV host and is now a leading style icon, voice and trendsetter in Australia. Having her as an influencer has enabled the brand to authentically connect to the fashion industry via her engaged followers.
Does your planning and purpose drive authenticity?
It’s important not to lose sight of the big idea or strategy needed to meet brand objectives. This can still come from a big, shiny TV commercial or an influencer/social-led creative thinking. The real challenge for marketers is how they inspire and work with all agencies together to deliver an integrated campaign that delivers content bespoke for each channel, works to enhance the consumer journey, and ultimately closes the loop to purchase. What will never run out of steam is innovation, and agencies working with clients as true business partners.
So, when you are planning an influencer marketing effort for your brand, it’s important to choose your influencer wisely. Box office appeal doesn’t always translate to a success for your brand, and make sure you have a holistic strategy guiding your path forward. Ultimately, if marketers champion creativity and innovation and have a clear purpose and plan for their brand, influence and authenticity will feed in where and when necessary.