From Cave(wo)men to Kim Kardashian - a Guide to Influencer Marketing
Today I left the house while it was still dark to attend an event run by the notorious EventHuddle on Influencer Marketing. EventHuddle is a topical monthly forum wherein experts from various walks of life and industries offer their view on the world.
Whether you wear a 3-piece or a tracksuit to the office, Influencer Marketing is food-for-thought. Here's the output of the conversation and my two cents.
We're all Cave(wo)men
A fellow member of the audience was a U.S Politician in a previous life and raised her hand to ask a question of the panel. I forget what was said as after the words "I used to be a U.S. Politician" it all turned in to a bit of a ramble and I'd be lying if I said I was paying attention. However, (I think) the point was that Influencer Marketing isn't new. It's true, it isn't. But that's not the point.
One of the panellists responded with: "Even as cave(wo)men, if one of our tribe said 'that kind of mammoth has the best fur for a coat', I'd be sure to go and hunt that mammoth". Not much is different today. Over time influencers have taken various guises. They have been, and still are, in most cases considered to be 'Brand Ambassadors'. The difference today is that most aren't wedded to one brand.
Take Joe Wicks for example. You know the guy, forever throwing veg in a pan, doing sit-ups and rarely spotted wearing a top. While that's what he's best known for, he's also going to be an ambassador for Oracle. It was news to me, too. But that's the point - in this day-and-age, nobody owes one brand/company anything. Academics would say society is more brand agnostic than ever - the same goes for Influencers.
It's not all about the size
As the adage goes, "it's not about the size, it's what you do with it that counts". Never has that been more true than in Influencer Marketing.
In the days-gone-by, it was enough to have the biggest celebrity to be seen wearing thatdress, or that watch. But times have changed. You've got the same dress as Jennifer Anniston? That's cool. You wear the same watch as James Bond? Great. Times have changed. Consumers (and businesses) have changed. People can't relate to celebrities. There's no connection.
Consumers are now more likely to listen to Rachel. You know Rachel. The fashionista in the office or Bob from the Golf club who has been investing in premium watches. To be successful in Influencer Marketing today - you have to be able to find Rachel and Bob. But that's just the beginning.
Plastic ain't fantastic
Ok, so we've established that Rachel and Bob are more effective influencers than Jennifer Anniston or James Bond. But how do we get them to become influencers for our brand? Well, that's a little trickier. Previously, companies would have contacted Rachel or Bob and thrown some cash at them. Job done. However, like cave(wo)men, consumers have evolved. They are becoming increasingly au fait with the fact that a brand may have given Rachel or Bob a backhander. Maybe even donated their product / service gratis in return for spreading the word to their network.
It's never been more important to be transparent with both influencers and those that they are looking to influence. There are two schools of thought as to whether an influencer / brand should reveal their relationship to the great unwashed. It's true that a certain percentage of consumers turn off when they see #Spon or #Ad, but if Influencer Marketing is to have a future, it's better to be more transparent than tracing paper.
If in doubt, consult the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) guidelines.
It's not a one night stand
We've seen it time and time again. Companies pay a sizeable amount to an influencer in a certain sphere, they get a mention on Twitter, maybe SnapChat or Instagram and that's it. They see an uplift in sales of their widget or an increase in enquiries, but 24hrs passes and interest wanes. The next day, said influencer is doing exactly the same for a competitor and you realise just how fickle the world can be.
One of the panellists today wasn't ashamed of admitting they are 'totes emosh'. What's more, this is the driving force behind the who, what and how they are influenced. Find influencers who not only have a natural fit with your brand, product / service but understand that it's not just a one night stand. Build a relationship with them. Let them know the benefits for both parties. Make it a partnership rather than an exchange.
Finding my future Brother-in-Law
We live in a world where we're all influencers to one degree or another. My future brother-in-law is an Australian running machine. He can run a marathon in circa 2:30:00 - I'd struggle to do that on a push-bike some days. But that's irrelevant. When we visited Australia I noticed he had a few pairs of New Balance trainers in his shoe rack. I happened to be looking for a new pair, so we stopped by the New Balance outlet store and I picked up a pair, as did my Fiancé. He doesn't have 500,000 followers on Twitter and I'm not even sure whether or not he is on 'Insta'. Do I think the trainers are going to get me anywhere near his marathon time? No. Unless I'm wearing them in a car. I do however, trust his judgement in his product choices - he is the expert.
Herein lies a challenge for marketers. How do we find the brother-in-law? I'm afraid there is no magic elixir - but there are options. Look for Marketplaces like Freestak where they have done the hard work for you. They have a whole database of vetted influencers in the world of Endurance athletes - not your Kim Kardashians, but your 'Weekend Warriors', those that genuinely care about helping improve their respective activities.
Spud Guns Vs. Nuclear Weapons
When I started writing this, I made the claim that we are all Cave(wo)men. While there's an element of truth, we're all evolving. The Cave(wo)men in our tribe who gave us the advice on which mammoth to hunt is like a spud-gun. They will be able to influence those in close proximity. Compare the Cave(wo)men who can reach 20 people in their tribe to Kim Kardashian and you're putting a spud gun next to a nuclear weapon, but it's up to you to decide which is more effective.
If you agree/disagree with any of the above, please do let me know in the comments below. If you've found it interesting / entertaining you are most welcome to share this article with your network.