Why Influencer Marketing needs to adapt
The purpose of influencer marketing was founded on being able to connect brands to their target audiences through the use of people (or creators) their audience is already engaged with, with influencers acting as ambassadors for the brand.
Too quickly that turned into brands treating influencers like commodities rather than partners, where influencers can be “bought” into the brand rather than forming meaningful connections. That doesn’t help anyone. Brands don’t see the results they expect to, influencers don’t care about the brands they are promoting, and end consumers don’t see the relevance of the products or services being promoted to them.
According to Stevie Johnson, Managing Director of Disrupt and former Made in Chelsea star and influencer, “The market is still saturated with agencies that are too focused on vanity metrics over helping clients to establish longer term loyalty with a responsive and engaged customer base”. The industry needs to adapt to focus on establishing ambassadorial partnerships that serve everyone – brands, influencers, and most importantly the end consumers.
Without a focus on building lasting relationships between brands and the influencers they engage, consumers are going to start losing faith in the brands by increasingly questioning the relevance and sincerity of what they are seeing from influencers.
Instead, we need to be focusing on how we collaboratively approach influencer campaigns, from choosing the right partners through to the creative execution. This shifts the focus from vanity metrics like increasing followers and engagements to what is going to provide the most impressions, clicks, and, ultimately, sales for the brands – looking much harder at the true ROI that influencer marketing can provide rather than just acting as another channel to throw into the mix.
The brands who will “win” here are those who stand for something, can show action around it and are culturally relevant. There is little worse for a brand than appearing tone-deaf to their audience, and with a focus on just driving more followers and engagement you’ve got much more chance of that being a reality than an approach that fully encompasses what, and how, your audience wants to interact with and see from you.
Influencer marketing should never be considered a one-time addition to a brand’s strategy. It is about building partnerships with people your audience listen to. If you work with the wrong influencer, or don’t take cultural shifts into account, or only do one-off campaigns with different influencers continuously, your audience isn’t going to understand the relevance of your brand to them and ultimately won’t give you the results you’re looking for.