With more than 20 million people tuning in to watch Netflix’s Fyre documentary, not to mention a multitude of influencer fails that have made mainstream news, 2019 really was the year that influencer marketing changed from being the topic of agency boardrooms to being front and centre in the public domain.
Bloggers and influencers were not unheard of and many people were already following their favourite social celebrity to see what they wore, where they ate and how they lived. But Netflix’s Fyre documentary highlighted to the world the power that these influencers possess and how brands can use them to ultimately, in this case, sell a (shattered) dream.
Whether brands are selling dreams, beds or even liquorice the way marketeers are approaching influencer marketing had to change, which is why Smoking Gun created the Out Of The Fyre, Into The Future guide. Consumers are becoming wise to influencers, and because of this an over stylised image shared with thousands of followers just won’t cut it anymore.
As we enter a new decade, the pace of change is growing ever faster. Looking back ten years, Instagram didn’t even exist and now it’s responsible for inspiring some people’s every move, and for brands that means their purchasing habits.
So as we enter the first-ever decade where social media rules most of our lives, Rick Guttridge, MD at Smoking Gun, shares the five questions any marketeer should be asking themselves (or their client/agency) before they delve into the world of influencer marketing.
1. Why are we doing it?
At Smoking Gun we get so many briefs from brands who want to work with influencers, and when you challenge them on the reason why, there can often be an element of ‘everyone else is doing it so shouldn’t we be? We get it, you see a competitor working with one of the latest social celebrities and you start to wonder how you can get a slice of the action. But before any influencer marketing campaign is launched, it is essential that you consider the business challenge. Without a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve, then you’ll never be able to effectively measure the success. Which leads us on to our next question…
2. How are we going to measure success?
Having clear aims and objectives attached to the activity, gives you an indication of how you can measure success. Likes on an image isn’t enough, it’s simply a vanity metric and ultimately it doesn't have business impact. Before any activity is launched the measurement metrics need to be put in place, this allows you to prove success, but also learn how to further improve for future activity. But don’t forget you’re not on your own with the measurement approach, influencers should be willing and able to share their metrics with you to help build a complete picture.
3. Do big numbers mean big impact?
There’s influencers out there whose follower number hit the millions, but this doesn’t mean they’re right for your brand, or your wallet. Our influencer guide explores micro, macro and mega influencers and the different roles they play in terms of communicating a message or building a relationship. Micro-influencers are most effective at directly promoting products, so for example, if you are launching something new, then small is the way forward. Whereas if you’re wanting to build relationships with your customers then macro-influencers, otherwise known as ‘engagers’ would be more suitable.
4. Where does it fit in with our wider marketing plans?
Influencer marketing can be powerful, but combine it with a wider marketing campaign and it can be even more so. A recent example of this is Simply Be’s We Need New Icons campaign, where a flurry of plus-size fashion influencers posted on the same day as the print and TV advertising launched. This joined up approach meant the campaign launched with a bang. That’s not to say that influencer activity can’t exist independently, but there has to be a consistency to shape and maintain a brand tone of voice. No matter the touch point for the audience they need to experience the same messaging, even if the delivery is different.
5. Could it go wrong?
Yes, to put it simply. We all read about examples of influencer marketing going wrong. Look at Fyre festival, and more recently we’ve seen influencer, Clemmie Hooper, going rogue and admitting to online bullying and trolling - not a good person for any brand to be associated with. We live in a new age of brand authenticity so before stretching your brand’s footprint via third party endorsements, you must be crystal clear they are as honest and transparent as you are.
So like any marketing campaign, there needs to be contingency plans in place, and our advice would always be to start small, so you can introduce a test and learn approach to your growth.