Fewer than 6% of millennials believe online ads are credible. In the digital marketing world, that’s a tough pill to swallow. Consumers are skeptical about brands and the stories they tell, that much is known. That’s why the money spent on influencers has gone up so much in recent years. Traditional influencers told their friends and family about great products and services over the dinner table or at gatherings. The digital equivalent of that is an influencer having a robust social following for whatever reason, whether it be she is good at taking pictures, he has a unique flair for food prep, or she just happens to be a social butterfly. These influencers are the ones you want on your side because they help elevate conversion rates 3x-10x. But, it isn’t easy. Liz Hawks of FleishmanHillard and Amy Merchant of Hallmark went through some tips for engaging influencers at a recent American Marketing Association Kansas City lunch.
Find a Good Fit
When thinking about using influencers, you have to work to find a good fit. For Hallmark, they were focusing specifically on their Signature brand. The goal for using an influencer was to get people to think about buying a Hallmark card, not just a greeting card in general. To do this, the actual personality of the influencer mattered according to Merchant. The influencer’s preferred social networks also had to make sense for Hallmark. Merchant and Hawks made sure to look past the blog, looking at whether consumers were interacting with the sponsored and branded content that influencer posted on social as well. Looking at an influencer’s following across multiple platforms will help determine how robust the content strategy can be.
Contracts are important. Before working agreeing to work with an influencer, Merchant & Hawks made sure to lay out the requirements necessary for the partnership. They outlined the content the influencer was required to deliver, all disclosure language required, any exclusivity needed, and how the influencer would be compensated. Making sure to apply learnings as they went, Merchant and Hawks continued to drive success with influencers through increased awareness and engagement benchmarks and extended partnerships past their original campaign. Hawks also mentioned making sure the product provided isn’t just a prop for the influencer, but a catalyst for a story that resonates with followers. While some content can be utilitarian, some can be emotional.
Knowing ahead of time what types of metrics the influencer campaigns should achieve is essential. For Hallmark, they measured their success in exposure (impressions), engagement, influence (comment sentiment), and action (click through rate). They also saw that the use of #ad or #sponsored, which is required by the FCC for influencer marketing, didn’t dilute the message the influencer delivered. Followers still interacted and engaged, even though they knew the influencer was paid to post the content. Hawks believed this showed the followers’ trust in that influencer.
5 Things to Remember
- Create a mutual exchange
- Strive for collaboration, let go of the reins and let the influencer create
- Identify passion-fueled advocates
- Find the right fit, a person who can represent the brand in the right way
- Plan long term
Influencer marketing through digital channels continues to help brands and organizations cut through the messaging consumers are being bombarded with daily. Taking into account the advice from Hallmark and FleishmanHillard, even independent retailers may be able to apply this method to their own marketing mix.