As marketers look to reach and engage various micro-communities in social media, influencer marketing is quickly becoming a pillar of brands’ content efforts. Influencers offer a unique, credible way to reach millennial and Gen Z audiences. Knowing this – it’s important to be mindful of how brands and marketers play in the space.
I had the pleasure of discussing the progression of influencer marketing at Massive, The Entertainment Marketing Summit presented by Variety. We discussed how the space is shifting, both from a consumer and a creator perspective. Here are three key trends identified during the summit:
1. “Influencer” is becoming a dirty word.
The term “influencer” implies that brands are trying to use someone to influence their audience. In reality those once everyday people who have assembled massive followings, didn’t set out to sell ad space on their social channels. They started to create and express their own views and passions to an audience of like-minded individuals.
Marketers use the word “influencer” because it helps them perceive these people as an outlet or a channel, like TV or radio. However, if you want to effectively reach and engage their micro-communities, you need to partner with these people, not as “influencers,” but as “creators.” Creators are true partners who can help your brand reach an audience in a meaningful way.
2. Passion is important.
When asked for the key criteria for selecting creators for a program, there was one common theme across all of the answers – shared passion. If a creator is not passionate about your brand or cause, then the odds of their audience caring and engaging with the message is equally unlikely. More and more, affinity for a brand, product or show is becoming an essential criterion for working with a creator – as it leads to more meaningful content and builds a more authentic connection between the brand, creator and audience.
3. The “pay per post” model is ineffective.
With the rise of influencer platforms and multi-channel networks, we’ve seen the creator space shift from a model built on relationships to one built on transactions. Rather than collaborating with creators and building trust with them and their audience – we’ve been likening their channels to a media buy, attempting to drive the most effective CPM. Ultimately this approach creates a disconnect between the brand and the creator – often resulting in a slapped-on message versus relevant content that’s meaningful to the consumer.
To combat this disconnect – some brands have started shifting toward long term agreements with creators. As they regularly work together, the creators become embedded in the brand’s marketing and gain a deeper understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish. Likewise, their audience recognizes this relationship over time, and begins to view it as a partnership rather than the creator “selling out” with a paid post.