This article is published in tandem with How to Maximise Your Influencer Strategy, BoF’s new Playbook containing actionable insights and practical tools to enable success in influencer marketing. Become a BoF Professional annual member to access.
NEW YORK — The concept of an "influencer" existed long before it was a paying occupation. (Consider Marie Antoinette.) What's new, however, is that smartphones and social networks have given everyone the power to share their opinion, and thus the potential to influence others.
To complement the recent launch of BoF Education's playbook "How to Maximise Your Influencer Strategy," Lauren Sherman, BoF's chief correspondent, New York, recently held a live conversation with Delphine Del Val, founder of Pool Creatives talent agency, and Linz Shelton, director of global social media at Michael Kors. Together, they break down the ins and outs of influencer marketing for both big-budget brands and bootstrapping start-ups.
From Macro to Micro: Choose Your Influencer(s) Carefully
- A macro influencer may get millions of eyeballs on their posts, but an influencer with a smaller following typically has a far more engaged audience.
- Macro influencers are the best option if your goal is to create awareness over conversion. Sometimes, however, it's better to partner with an influencer who has a smaller — but more specific — audience. Especially if you're looking to drive sales. It doesn't always make sense to invest in more than one macro influencer at a time because their audiences often overlap a considerable amount.
- When it comes to finding the new and interesting influencers, it's good to track whom the people in the fashion industry — and macro-influencers themselves — are following.
- Rather than thinking in terms of the influencer you want, start by asking yourself, "Who is the customer I want?" advises Del Val. Then target influencers reaching that customer.
How Much Should You Spend on Influencers?
- If Instagram is like a mega-magazine, then influencers are its celebrity editors.
- Del Val argues that brands should allocate as much advertising and marketing budget toward influencers as they would to print magazines a decade ago. "This is for penetration of the market, not just return on investment," she says.
- But in order to see a good ROI, you must focus on creating a credible, long-term partnerships with influencers, Shelton says.
- It's also important to consider whether the content will focus more on the products themselves or provide behind-the-scenes access to exclusive events and experiences, because the deliverables will be different.
Balancing Creative Control
- The distinction between influencer and content creator is murky at best, so it's important to set out terms for a brand partnership that benefits both parties.
- At Del Val's talent agency Pool Creatives, her roster of image-makers, stylists and makeup artists are not referred to as influencers because "first and foremost they are talents," she says. However, it's their ability to both create and communicate that helps them win influencer campaigns.
- No matter the terms, any influencer partnership is a transaction, says Shelton. The nature of the partnership can — and should — vary depending on the type of influencer. At Michael Kors, those creating content for the brand will be given more guidelines. Those creating content for their own editorial will be given more freedom.
- For Del Val, it's important that both brands stick to their narrative without overriding the other. Too much imbalance indicates that the partnership is not a good fit.
Keeping Tabs on Your Influencers
- Influencer marketing is a primarily qualitative game because it's so difficult to calculate ROI. However, there are useful tools for auditing and tracking influencers.
- A customer relationship management (CRM) system, such as Salesforce, provides a scalable "little black book" of contacts, gifting history and agent details.
- Data analytics services calculate key metrics of campaign efficacy, such as the quality of follower engagement and the incremental benefits — or diminishing returns — of adding another influencer to your campaign.
- There are a number of technology suites born out of the influencer economy that cover these areas — either jointly or as specialised services. However, says Shelton, recording and capturing this data "shouldn't be scary for a one-person show with limited resources; you can accomplish all of it using Excel."
Take these insights to the next level and find out how to apply them to your influencer marketing with BoF’s Playbook How to Maximise Your Influencer Strategy.
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