The Anatomy of an Effective Influencer Agency
Influencer marketing is the wave of the future, born of a generation of digital natives who interact with brands and products in ways we’ve never seen before. The numbers are there to back it up: as the Millennials come into their own, with $200 billion in potential purchasing powers, study after study demonstrate that influencer marketing and its close cousin word of mouth marketing are the best ways to reach the fickle digital young adults of today. Of course, any powerful tool comes with the potential for disaster. If you want to leverage the power of blogger influence to grow your brand, the secret is in finding the right influencer.
What Makes a Good Influencer?
There’s an art to choosing the right influencer. While it’s tempting to break them down into metrics, follower count, clicks per minute, and so on, you also need to think about the bigger picture: why so many people connect with the content they create. Expert marketing blog Convince and Convert sets out these five areas to research before you hitch your horse to a potential partner:
- Relevance.A relevant influencer will produce content that’s a good match for your brand’s message and marketing story. You need to establish relevance before you dive into Google analytics and start calculating return visitors per month: make sure your potential influencer reaches a niche you want introduced to your brand.
- Engagement is a great measure of how a blogger influencer’s audience interacts with their content. The rate of shares, comments, and general responses can give you an idea of the impact that influencer’s posts and content have on their audience.
- Reach, in its simplest form, is the number of unique visitors a post reaches. However, simple follower count isn’t necessarily the best measure of reach. Who your influencer reaches matters far more than how many.
- Frequency. Any content creator competing for the attention of the online masses knows that consistency is important: creating lots of content on a set schedule helps build loyalty and bring back return visitors. By the same token, it’s important that influencers maintain a careful ratio of sponsored and personal content. As marketing expert and Forbes contributor Mark Schaefer joked, “I don’t think I’d like my own blog if it started to look like a NASCAR jacket.” Bloggers quickly lose integrity if all they post is sponsored content.
- Authenticity. It’s important to remember that using influencers is, by definition, niche marketing. Your influencer has power because they connect with a small, specific group – but those connections are loyal and long-running. The authenticity of content goes hand in hand with frequency. Nothing drives away a Millennial audience away faster than a “fake” or a “sellout:” a blogger influencer’s audience is much more responsive to genuine experience or personal anecdotes than a sponsored product review.
Sometimes marketers confuse influencer marketing with manipulation, bribing or worse. Influence is something you deserve by being relevant for others. The support of an influencer needs to be deserved by marketers as well. Indeed, by being relevant.
J-P De Clerck
What Makes an Influencer Authoritative?
Forbes proposed that Influence is a function of audience reach (number of followers) x brand affinity (expertise and credibility) x strength of relationship with followers. But what gives an influencer authority and credibility? It’s a question must be answered in a marketing environment where 95 percent of consumers trust word of mouth – even the word of a stranger – over brand marketing. An influencer’s authority comes from their own experience, apart from your brand’s messaging: influence campaigns are most effective when the influencer is a genuine advocate, rather than an actor spouting the company line. Remember, you’re presenting to an audience that is incredibly savvy to marketing techniques and “advertiser speak” (thanks, Mad Men) and they’ll spot sponsored content that isn’t genuine a mile away.
For a perfect example of bloggers with authority from an unexpected source, take a look at the Abbie Agency’s blogger influence campaign for Lake Tahoe. They made the savvy decision to target the people behind the planning of most of the world’s vacations: moms. And whose word will a mom trust above all others? Other moms, of course. Lake Tahoe and the Abbie Agency partnered with a number of established mom bloggers, who knew exactly what questions a vacation-planning parent will ask about a potential vacation spot. “Bloggers speak very well to different audience segments,” explained Constance Aguilar of the Abbie Agency. They are trusted sources, and they know more than we do on what a mom would look for in terms of traveling. They have the authority to convert like no one else.”
A Few Final Words
A blogger’s authority means more than education or impact factor, just like their reach means more than their follower count. Picking the right influencer for your brand requires a detailed understanding of both your own target audience and the niche a blogger or content creator has the potential to reach. If you do the right homework and enter a partnership with the right influencer, however, nothing will give you a better return on your investment than influencer marketing.