Influencers are a well-versed, oft-discussed group and are incredibly useful in brand communication. Brands love to enlist the help of bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers, as they know how to fire up that young target market of consumers who avoid traditional media and are not easily convinced by traditional marketing means. There is ample proof that influencer marketing works: from sold-out mascara to video game waiting lists – it even works for products that were not meant to be taken seriously. The group undoubtedly has an influence, but it is a double-edged sword: influencer cooperation can just as well work against a brand. Finding the right match for your company is key. How to go about it?
To measure is to know
As influencer marketing gains standing, the selection process becomes an increasingly hot topic. The problem lies in the fact that the more influencer marketing is being used, the more the data gets fudged; followers are bought and engagement data is either published incorrectly or not at all. The industry is therefore more and more concerned about quantifiability.
The articles that are written on the subject all emphasise data. To measure is to know. Complicated algorithms are computed to select the highest scoring influencers in terms of reach, online behaviour, interaction ratio and the like. Professionalising and accepting influencer marketing as a serious marketing tool is a step in the right direction. But if that is all there is to it, how come there are still marketing campaigns we all take issue with?
The backlash following an influencer-brand mismatch can be brutal and is illustrative of the scepticism that influencer marketing still faces. Why do we find certain campaigns unacceptable yet run to spend our money on thousands of other products that are marketed in a very similar fashion? It can’t be the data; those campaigns were created by experts in their field. Despite a larger reach than is common in the Netherlands and equally high engagement rates, somehow the message gets lost in translation.
This is where the human factor comes into play. An unquantifiable aspect that algorithms can’t quite capture influences campaign outcomes: the match. That sounds utterly logic, but it is more than the right combination of influencer and brand; emotional insight is required. Unmeasurable insight, that is.
To effect a change in consumer mentality and behaviour, a match needs to be realised between the three most important influencer marketing factors: the brand, the influencer and the target audience. It is critical that these factors stay balanced throughout the process.
When in doubt, don’t.
Campaign fails are often the result of one of these factors being left out of the equation, namely the target audience. Prime considerations are often ‘do the brand and the influencer think they are a match?’ and ‘can the influencer reach the target audience?’. The target audience, however, may well find that that perfect match is not so perfect after all. When there is a perceived disconnect between brand and influencer, it causes unrest in the target audience. Not because the influencer gets paid to promote the brand, but because something just isn’t right.
In short: if the target audience is not comfortable with the match, they will doubt the legitimacy and authenticity of the campaign, the brand and the influencer. The result is an undelivered message and a lot of critical content.
More than data
Influencer marketing can be an effective tool to reach specific target audiences–especially millennials. Balance is key though. Influencer, brand and target audience are all on the same tightrope; if one group moves out of sync, the entire choreography falls to pieces. It is important to have a clear understanding of the needs and wants of your target audience and to realise they are not just numbers. It is the emotional aspect that wins people over, not the simple image of a celebrity showing off a product. So, learn how to walk a tightrope and find that balance. That pole that helps you keep that balance? That’s the Match.
At Glasnost, we have a 3M approach to generate positive traction for brands: Message, Moments and Means. We ask ourselves: what is the Message we want to convey, what is the best Moment and manner to do that and which financial Means do we employ to get the message across with resounding impact? In Native Advertising, a fourth M is indispensable: the Match.