Most influencer campaigns today are really thinly veiled awareness ad campaigns. Companies are simply renting access to an influencer’s audience on the misguided belief that this access will generate sales by association. But this is a short-sighted and increasingly unsuccessful viewpoint because fame doesn’t equal influence. So, how do you leverage conversations to create a truly successful influencer campaign?
Influencer or Celebrity?
This is an important distinction because recent influencer research confirmed the misguidedness of the sale by association mindset. The research showed that in the eyes of consumers, internet influencers, after they reach a certain level of celebrity, are no more trustworthy a brand advocate than a traditional celebrity.
Which begs the question, when does an influencer become a celebrity? The truth is there is no hard and fast rule. Instead, you have to deep dive into every influencer you’re considering for your campaign. You need to understand how often they’re promoting brands and how strongly they really feel about the brands they promote. The research suggests that to truly be influential and drive a real sale, your influencer has to appear authentically supportive of your brand, product or destination. So go find out how authentic each influencer appears.
Would you rather have a person rent you access to their followers along with a one-time compliment or a person that acts as a Social Agent on your behalf? In the long run, which do you think will produce a better ROI for your influencer marketing program?
In our experience, we’ve found the quickest way to influence the influencers is to talk to them. Engage them at a level that goes deeper than simply financial. Do so with the goal of not just purchasing access but inspiring advocacy. That means when you talk to them, don’t just make it about you, make it about y’all. Great influencer programs create win-win situations for influencer and brand.
In simple terms, think about what you can give before focusing on what you can get. Then hop on a phone (I know… crazy right?) and have a good old fashioned exploratory conversation where you ask them if anything you can offer could help them. They may not want everything or anything you have to offer, but you’ll start a dialogue and from that conversation you can likely find common ground on which you can build a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.
How Advocacy Grows Influence
This is probably the most important point in this entire post. And we feel it’s the key to why influencers eventually lose credibility with their followers.
As the size of an influencer’s following grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the same level of engagement with those followers. This leads to those followers becoming less engaged and thusly less influenced by the influencer. That’s bad for both brands and influencers.
Again, this is where a focus on conversations creates a win-win for both parties. It’s easy for influencers to fall victim to the “grow my following” mantra that has led to reports of fake followers and in some cases, fake influencers.
While it is more time-consuming and more difficult for an influencer to maintain high levels of fan engagement through responding to comments, liking comments from followers, etc., you have to encourage them to do it. To do that, you have to help them understand that your focus on influencer/fan engagement is actually a win-win for both brand an influencer.
These conversations, more than any post, will help the brand by leading to more authentic, and frankly far more believable advocacy. Likewise, the conversations also help the influencer by growing their connectivity to their fans, reinforcing their authentication, and ultimately making them more influential (and more valuable) in the long run.
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