Written by Vincent Juarez
Influencers are the ultimate form of people-powered, word-of-mouth marketing. An influencer’s ability to create and share brand stories, engage audiences, provide recommendations and ultimately motivate purchase decisions has redefined traditional marketing and created new channels for content.
In order to drive the most value from influencer based storytelling, brands must learn to go beyond the one-off approach that has dominated the industry. Ideally, brands take the best practices from “CRM” (customer relationship management) tools, and instead invest in an “IRM,” (influencer relationship management) where the emphasis is on the relationship, not the transaction. Those long-term relationships provide the content required to maintain visibility and motivate action.
The relationship-based approach, however, has many challenges. It requires a skilled team of experts to manage the people and personalities behind the audience and engagement. It also requires an advanced toolset to discover influencers who are an authentic representation of a brand and are excited about long-term relationships.
As technology continues to evolve and provide marketing teams with a better understanding of their social audiences, it remains clear that leveraging data and insights are key components to launching initiatives that can establish emotional connections with large audiences. That combination of human expertise and social science allows brands to find their “influencer soulmates”.
Using Personality Clues To Find The Right Influencers
Technology, and specifically, artificial intelligence platforms are helping marketing teams review, digest and act on informed insights in ways previously impossible. Such technology is adding another dimension by helping savvy marketers look well beyond the standard demographics, reach and engagement of an influencer. By using AI to ‘read’ the social speech within a creator’s social feed, the process is further humanized and an influencer’s true character is revealed.
Unlike other solutions that apply a generic approach to consumer intelligence, marketing science platforms like a.network’s Soulmates.AI are built to specifically understand, filter and recommend influencers based on expressed social speech. Widely accepted as a key indicator of persistent personality, understanding expressed speech can provide clear windows into the influencer’s motivations and interests. Soulmates.AI also uses a Knowledge Graph to provide context and minimize ambiguity for a better understanding of what influencers and their audiences are actually talking about. By seeking to understand an influencer’s personality, marketers will not only discover potential partners that will provide safe and valuable content, but could get to know them on a human level; creating a relationship as if the brand and influencers were soulmates from the start.
Cultivating Long-Term, Exclusive Relationships
Once brands have invested in humanizing influencer discovery and can see beyond the transactional nature of followers and reach, they’ll be able to engage in long-term influencer relationships. A ‘man and machine’ approach enables brands to feel the heart behind a story and the use the brains of data to fuel business decisions. With an understanding of both important elements, brands can nurture loyal audiences by securing persistent visibility alongside that influencer.
Building Always-On Influencer Campaigns
Regardless of budgets, brands should look beyond quick initiatives and consider campaigns that build a narrative that provides product visibility over a course of months or even years. Ideally, marketers engage with a partner whose expertise is in building custom, multi-tiered influencer channel networks for a scaled, ‘always on’ content marketing strategy. In an ideal situation, the tiered structure includes hundreds of influencers that range from emerging micro to upper tiered “social celebrity-grade” talent.
While the “one and done” approach to influencer marketing can be effective, it often lacks the impact and authenticity of a longer term, relationship-based engagement. Consider Tinder vs eHarmony and the type of relationships that typically result from each.
Creating The Ideal Content Ecosystem
The most effective large-scale campaigns are built on a tiered approach of “Hero, Hub and Hygiene” content across multiple video and social platforms. While influencer content can effectively breakthrough ad clutter, the reality is that their audiences are distracted and inundated with brand messaging. The “always on” approach is the foundation for overcoming ad clutter and reinforcing authenticity. The next step is to determine the ideal mix of “Hero” premium, “go-big” agency-produced content starring influencers, “Hub” custom, brand-sponsored content or “Hygiene” native, grassroots type content. Once the ideal mix is determined, the content can be syndicated and even amplified through all relevant social platforms.
Calibrating Campaign With Actionable Insights
Data and insights are key to upfront discovery and backend campaign optimization. While standard view, impressions and engagement metrics are important, it’s key to take a multi-dimensional approach to evaluating the health of a campaign. Additional metrics are based on a combination of Natural Language Processing and human insights to gauge sentiment and Earned Media Value (EMV). EMV helps brands understand the dollar value of the content’s exposure based on views and all measurable engagements. Since EMV is grounded in actual media costs, it provides tangible, verifiable ROI estimates to quantify the true value of a campaign.
Conclusion And Takeaways
The digital, influencer and content marketing landscape are constantly evolving. The rules of engagement constantly change and competition for consumer mindshare is at an all-time high. While the thirst for constant stories has required data-driven insights, marketing science and technology, the ideal approach combines these tools with a high degree of human interaction and expertise.
After all, persistently engaging audiences will always require a good storyteller.
About Vincent Juarez
As a partner at a.network, one of California’s largest independent advertising collectives, Vincent is an expert communication executive who leads social and influencer campaigns for ION, the network’s social media agency. Most recently, he helped deploy an international influencer campaign for Intel Corporation, drove a social activation with Netflix and is leveraging powerful partnerships with top gaming creators to introduce Facebook’s virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift to mainstream audiences.