The influencer marketing train is powering along, with more and more brands jumping onboard trying their luck in this exponentially growing space. Their levels of success vary enormously.
For some passengers, the trip is an easy and exhilarating one with the wins coming thick and fast, and minimal blips along the way. For others, it’s an arduous, frustrating experience with challenges at every twist of the track.
Our business, The Remarkables Group, started life as an influencer talent agency, a model which operated with success for four-and-a-half years. In October 2016 I made the decision to resign all of our talent as I didn’t feel our model was addressing the expanding needs that marketers had within the influencer space.
Since changing the model, we have had conversations with dozens of brands in order to understand what their biggest issues are when it comes to engaging influencers as part of their digital, comms or marketing plans.
On the back of this we've identified these major pitfalls that brands are experiencing with influencers.
They’re taking too short-term an approach
Let’s compare influencer marketing to online dating for a moment. You can hit up Tinder and have a series of casual dates with a broad range of potential matches, however neither side is likely to be overly invested in making a success of it.
Alternatively, you can sign up to eHarmony and take a more strategic approach to finding your perfect match, such as getting clear about your ideal partner, investing time in connecting with those who are selected as potentials and going the extra mile to select a great venue for your dates.
Many brands are taking a “dip in and dip out” approach to influencers by focusing on piecemeal campaigns. This may mean they’re in market with influencers for two months of the year, and for the remaining 10 months – tumbleweed. The result is a lack of continuity, abundant opportunity for competitors to get a foothold with influencers and a general lack of brand direction.
Successful influencer marketing requires a long-term view. This doesn’t necessarily mean embarking on long-term partnerships with specific influencers, but rather mapping out a 12-month strategy that encompasses not just the new news/campaigns, but also the long-term focus for where the brand is trying to get to. This results in a more streamlined approach that not only ticks short-term goals but also sets the brand up for long-term success.
There are a handful of brands doing this successfully in the Australian market, so there is ample opportunity for your brand to make its mark.
They’re not collaborating with the right influencers
When it comes to an influencer campaign surpassing all expectations or dropping like a dead duck, the deciding factor will always be how well the influencer fits with the brand.
There is a tendency for brands to gravitate towards high-reach influencers in the belief that the bigger the audience, the greater the bang for buck. This is not always a good approach.
Ensuring an authentic fit between an influencer and what the brand stands for is more important than delivering scale. Establishing genuine brand love before embarking on a partnership with an influencer is essential.
The easiest way to do that? Ask them what they think of your brand.
Influencers who lead the field on successful brand collaborations say 'no' a lot more than they say 'yes' to potential partnerships.
In our former model, the influencers we represented declined approximately $400,000 of work between them each year. Quality influencers have built significant trust capital with their audience and it’s simply not worth their while to partner with the wrong brand and put that trust capital at risk.
They’re going into activity with no idea of what success looks like
This is probably the biggest mistake we see brands making. How can you tell if activity was successful if you don’t know what success looks like?
I get that influencer marketing is still a new space for many brands and, as with any emerging channel, it’s difficult to measure success if you don’t have something to benchmark it against. However, there are brands investing six figure sums in an influencer strategy with no KPIs aligned to that activity, which is a pretty big risk to be taking with their budget.
We have the benefit of five years of activity that we can analyse to form benchmarks, which I appreciate is not going to be available to brands and agencies. That said, a rough goal is better than no goal at all.
Set KPIs as best you can and ensure that the correct metrics are being collected throughout the activity. That way you have a baseline from which to measure future campaigns.
Don’t be afraid to jump back onboard the train, even if efforts to date have left you feeling deflated. A truly effective influencer strategy is a longer, sustained journey that engages the right engine parts and has a clear destination in mind.
Lorraine Murphy is the group managing director of The Remarkables Group.