Buckle up and get ready for the latest episode of the LSB Marketing Toddcast hosted by Todd LaBeau!
Our guest this time is Amy Rohn, SVP and Director of Public Relations here at LSB. She and Todd will dig into the best—and worst—of influencer marketing.
What you’ll find in the episode
Influencer Marketing—The Basics
The first thing we should debunk is this notion that influencer marketing is new. People who work in PR have been borrowing equity from influencers and celebrities since the dawn of PR. Editors, celebrities, reporters, bloggers, YouTubers … it’s the same thing. All you’re doing is borrowing the equity, popularity and influence of someone to get your message out.
They key is finding people who have influence over an audience that fits the target audience your brand is trying to reach.
Why Does Influencer Marketing Matter?
When you’re trying to influence a certain target audience, it’s not always best for that message to come from a marketer. Maybe your audience is cynical and doesn’t believe messaging from marketers, but they will consider a product endorsed by their favorite athlete.
They key is to remember that influencer marketing is part of a modern campaign, but it doesn’t stand alone.
The Range of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing can run the gamut from huge, expensive campaigns, to smaller, more affordable activities. At the top are celebrity influencer campaigns. These are big names—the type of people who will send out a tweet for $40,000 endorsing your product. Not everyone has the need or budget for that.
On a smaller scale, an influencer campaign could be a collaboration with a blogger who has the right audience for your brand. The audience might be small, but perfectly targeted. The fact is, the topic and audience matters a great deal. If you’re talking about healthcare, it’s very different than if you’re a shoe marketer trying to reach kids in a skate park.
The question that should remain at the center of your plans is this: Are you reaching the right people?
Paid Influencers vs. Non-Paid Influencers
While paid is increasingly the name of the game, even for bloggers, not every single influencer expects a check in order to work with your brand.
Some work in exchange for product or promotion from your brand—they may simply want to be associated with your brand. Sometimes, influencers just want to host a giveaway for their readers, to provide that value directly to their audience.
Amplification is Key
The amplification component of a campaign is critical to success, and that’s why marketers must include amplification into budgets.
What does that amplification look like?
The influencer will first create the content that advocates for the product, then they should amplify that content on their own social channels. But there’s also a critical next step that marketers sometimes miss: The brand (or the agency, on behalf of the brand) must also support that content through their own social and paid channels. And when they take control of that amplification, they can assure the message gets to exactly the right audience.
Beyond that, the brand can then use the content itself in different formats to gain further traction. For instance, a food-based influencer program might generate photography and recipes that can now be used in earned and paid campaigns as well as future earned outreach to editorial media.
What are the Ways to do Influencer Campaigns Wrong?
The number one way to do influencer campaigns wrong is gratuitous use of celebrities. If they don’t fit your brand, it’s clear, and they won’t care.
Just think about what happened with Scott Disick of Kardashian fame. That’s someone you maybe don’t want working for your brand.
So, what about measurement?
Like any marketing initiative, you have to start with setting strong objectives and goals, and understanding where the influencer campaign fits in with your big picture marketing plan.
But because influencer marketing is digital, there’s opportunity for real-time correction. Constant measurement means you can push the pedal a little more or course correct and go a different direction. Sophisticated influencers will share even the less visible metrics and then you can be sure to maximize the campaign as you go forward.
On Not Controlling the Message
Traditionally, marketers want to control the whole message. That doesn’t work with influencer marketing.
You want an influencer who will work with you and understand your goals, but put their own spin on the content. If they just parrot what you say, their following may not be as authentically engaged.
Think of it as content generation from an outside voice. You can’t dictate everything, but that’s exactly why it works.
When you’re doing outreach, one of the things you look at is historical information from the influencer. If this is a blogger, they should have a media kit, and they’ll likely be able to tell you the type of content they produce, what kind engagement metrics they get, how they amplify on social.
Be Prepared for Anything
It’s also a good idea to prepare for a variety of outcomes. Think through what could happen, and be sure you’re ready for the most likely—or even less likely—ways your campaign could pan out.
What if it goes big like the ice bucket challenge? Are we prepared to parlay big success into even more?
At LSB, we did a beautiful video about a young man in Alabama who runs a nonprofit mowing the lawns of single mothers, disabled people and elderly folks. He had his own social presence, he started promoting the video, then earned media picked it up, free media picked it up … and 83 million impressions later, it was more than clear we had a hit on our hands.
It was phenomenal, and fortunately we were prepared to push it even more once we saw how much traction it was getting. We were able to identify those opportunities very quickly and put paid support against the earned media coverage.
We were ready to capitalize, but that’s not always the case. Many companies don’t plan well, then a campaign catches them flat-footed, with everything from a lack of resources to support a campaign’s success to supply issues.