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TODD SMITH — Influencer marketing is a great communications tool in today’s world

TODD SMITH

Influencer marketing has experienced explosive growth in recent years. Previous projections had it estimated to become a $15 billion market by 2022, and that was before the rapid rise of TikTok and content creation under quarantine.  

However, alongside this growth have been increasingly bleak headlines: The influencer marketing bubble is set to burst, influence is phony and influencer fraud is costing companies more than $1 billion.

Some influencers, at the knowing or unknowing direction of agencies and brands, are breaking trust with their audience because of collaborations that lack relevance, are fraudulent at times and often have superficial measurement. 

Here are five key tips to harness positive influencer impact, according to Adweek:

  1. Audience size should never be the first proxy

Follower numbers don’t equal actual reach. They don’t give any measure of true influence with an audience and, most importantly, they don’t give any insight into the audience composition.

Given that marketing is about conveying a message to a specific audience, influencer marketing is worthless if it’s not actually speaking to the desired audience, regardless of how niche or broad that audience is.

If you were selling an everyday cooking product, would you advertise in Vogue or Good Housekeeping? If you had a fin-tech product and were trying to reach a Canadian audience, would you work with a very large tech influencer with less than 2% of their audience in Canada? 

Focus on the audience.

  1. Engagement doesn’t equal effectiveness

Engagement rates have become the most common metric by which influencer comparisons are made. However, much like follower numbers, an influencer with the right audience and high engagement can be the wrong influencer.

You have to view influencer marketing as a collaboration between two brands. When brands come together to collaborate, the success is often in large part because of a truly relevant fit. It’s the difference between the wildly cool and successful Louis Vuitton collaboration with Supreme and Lego’s collaboration with Shell (which Lego had to end because of misaligned values). 

The best influencer marketing comes from a data-driven approach to understanding influence with an audience combined with human insights to assess brand alignment and cultural relevance.

Without these, you won’t drive strong results at best, and, at worst, you could see an audience backlash and brand safety problems.

  1. Trust isn’t built in a single post

A collaboration that’s a single post, without any obvious or easily explainable alignment, can end up prompting the audience to question whether the influencer really had a belief in the product. This drives little value for the brand, reduces the audience’s trust with the influencer and brings up the question of authenticity.

Brands leading in influencer marketing are making increasingly longer collaborations a big component of their influencer marketing strategy. It allows the influencer to best understand the brand’s values and marketing needs, enabling the development of a thoughtful strategy to deliver that to their audience over time.

  1. All messages are not equal

Identifying the right influencer based on audience and brand alignment doesn’t mean there isn’t still considerable work to help each other understand shared objectives, values, aesthetics and styles. The strength of the brief is everything.

Importantly, this doesn’t mean handing over total control to the influencer, nor does it mean dictating everything to them. It’s ineffective if the audience has no clue what the brand is trying to convey, and it’s just as bad when the audience doesn’t believe the message is coming from the voice of the influencer. 

When done best, your roster of influencers should be a fully diverse and inclusive representation of your customers. It becomes a partnership, giving you a scalable creative production model that, with good communication, can remain fully on-brand while talking to audiences on a much more one-to-one level.

  1. You can’t invest in what you can’t measure

Follower numbers, engagement and sentiment analysis are no longer the brilliant basics. Paid social also has an ever-growing and almost obligatory role to play – something that brings both deeper reporting, accountability and the opportunity to further scale the reach to relevant audiences for prospecting and retargeting campaigns.

The growth of influencer marketing has stemmed from the incredible value it can deliver when done right. It’s about applying basic rules of advertising to make influencer marketing more trustworthy, more accountable, more measurable and, as a result, more effective.

Consumer Confidence Rebounds in May

Consumer confidence edged higher in May after two months of steep declines as businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic gradually reopened, but the measure still hovers near six-year lows.

The closely watched index of Americans’ outlook rose to 86.6 from 85.7 in April, the Conference Board announced recently, driven by a pickup in expectations for the next six months. That comes after a record plunge last month. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecasted a slightly bigger increase to 87.

All 50 states have begun phased reopenings of their economies after nearly all closed nonessential businesses in March to curtail the spread of the virus. The abrupt shutdowns triggered the worst recession in modern history, with 20.5 million jobs lost in April and as many as 10 million more expected to be shed this month. The U.S. economy is likely to shrink at a staggering 30% to 40% annual rate in the current quarter.

“Following two months of rapid decline, the free fall in confidence stopped in May,” said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s senior director of economic indicators. “Short-term expectations moderately increased as the gradual reopening of the economy helped improve consumer spirits. However, consumers remain concerned about their financial prospects.”

Out-of-this-World Mic: America Returns to Space Travel

In the midst of the crushing coronavirus and combustible racial injustices/police brutality, we finally have news that inspires hope for a broken world!

Elon Musk’s SpaceX and NASA blasted two astronauts into orbit, marking the first human launch from U.S. soil in nearly a decade and a new partnership between industry and government aimed at revitalizing the nation’s space ambitions.

Last Saturday’s successful blastoff – from the same launchpad at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center that sent Apollo crews to the moon during the height of the Cold War – sought to highlight American persistence and scientific know-how even as the U.S. continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and spiraling racial injustice. It also is the first step seeking to establish the trajectory for space tourism, provide momentum for proposed public-private partnerships to explore the moon, and eventually set the stage for longer ventures deeper into space.

The launch was the second attempt after bad weather foiled the originally schedule mission.

Strapped into a reusable capsule called Crew Dragon, veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley embarked on a scheduled 19-hour voyage to the international space station circling the globe 250 miles up, with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence observing the fiery scene in person. The Space Exploration and Technologies Corp. Falcon 9 rocket lifted off, and successfully reached orbit before a pristine docking with the space station. The crew is slated to remain at the international laboratory for at least two months, before returning with the capsule’s parachute landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Now that’s some out-of-this-world news we can all embrace!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» TODD SMITH is co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Deane | Smith, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm – based in Nashville, Tenn. – is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, follow him @spinsurgeon and like the ageny on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deanesmithpartners, and join us on LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/company/deane-smith-&-partners.

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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.