From Traditional To Influencer Marketing

From Traditional To Influencer Marketing


My transition from a traditional marketing background to an influencer marketing agency was challenging. Having focused on corporate messaging, I could draft technical articles and press releases easily. However, I soon realized that there was an enormous difference in the type of content creation required for both environments. But why?

Here’s my guess: before authentic influencer content creation, marketers clung tightly to the rules, dictated by generic corporate print marketing requirements. With the rise of digital content, the rules have become infinitely more flexible. Original influencer content creation is well-received by social audiences, but it’s still foreign to many within a traditional corporate marketing environment.

Conventional vs. Influencer Marketing

I’ve discovered that the biggest difference between conventional marketing and Influencer Marketing is that conventional marketing offers one generic corporate campaign message broadcast to a static target audience (the message is delivered by the brand or creative agency, and everyone within the target audience may see the same message), where Influencer Marketing enables social influencers who are content creators to endorse brands in their own way and style, in their own words. It’s personalised and it’s people talking to people. This means that extended audiences in the same target market may see completely unique, relevant content and messaging on the same campaign, dependent on the influencer/s that they’re following (meaning that the content is original and tailored to the influencer’s audience, and it’s not generic).

When I scroll my social media, I know I don’t want to read meaningless propaganda, and I don’t want to be exposed to the same message broadcast in the same way, across multiple platforms. However, when people I trust talk about their experiences with brands? Ahhh, then I have all the time in the world.

We are living in an era where people don’t pay attention to advertising. I hear it constantly: “I’m bombarded by adverts everywhere I go“, or “I’m tired of hearing about NEW and IMPROVED”, or even “I don’t even notice the adverts anymore – it’s all background noise”.

Conventional marketing as a stand-alone strategy just doesn’t work as well as it used to. Adobe managing director Australia and New Zealand Paul Robson has said: “the preference consumers have towards traditional advertising has more to do with digital. The reason consumers don't see the value is that it's not personalised or relevant. That relevancy creates an affinity.” What does that really mean for you? Well, the marketing landscape has changed, and the most productive way (with the highest expected ROI) to continue having relevance with your audience is adapting your approach to influencer marketing.

I read through a 2017 survey looking at the state of Influencer Marketing, which asked 170 marketers from the Consumer Packaged Goods, Food & Beverage, Media, Retail and agency verticals how they viewed the future of this burgeoning arena. 87% of respondents said that “Influencer Marketing’s top benefits entail creating authentic content about their brand.” Authentic content? Your audience can spot false advertising a mile away. You’re speaking to a tech savvy, media literate audience. This is an age where we are all consumers, and we’ve educated ourselves online before we buy anything of importance to us.

“...when working with influencers, brands have to let go and allow influencers control of the narrative to preserve the authenticity of what is being communicated.” Priyanka Dayal, content marketing manager at Centaur Media PLC, also emphasizes “today’s consumer can tell the difference between an advert, a personal recommendation, and an advert masked under a personal recommendation. For influencer marketing to sustain, authenticity and credibility is key.”

What Priyanka says dictates a change in how you approach Influencer Marketing from a strategic perspective. Although conventional marketing and Influencer Marketing are complementary, each should be managed very differently.

Communicating your authenticity as a brand via influencer marketing should only be managed internally when you have the right skillsets in place. I’ve found that a frequent occurrence in marketing departments is the view that influencers can be managed in-house where the right expertise is not available. This often leads to influencers following a script, and delivering a non-authentic message, reducing the impact and lessening the value of an influencer marketing campaign.

While it is possible for you to run effective campaigns in this way, it requires that you:

  • define the Influencer Marketing strategy
  • select the perfect influencers for a specific message or brand (based on a deep understanding of your target audience, and not on a headline or bio)
  • translate your Influencer Marketing strategy to influencers clearly and concisely, ensuring that your agency / brand integrity and reputation is increased
  • manage your campaign/s (and the influencers’ content) from inception to completion.

When the strategy isn’t conveyed correctly, the process can lead to your influencers lacking authenticity, and brands losing credibility with audiences. As an example, Microsoft were convinced they had the ultimate in an Influencer Marketing campaign, by contracting Oprah Winfrey. The irony? Oprah’s tweet extolling the virtues of the new Microsoft Surface were sent from Twitter for iPad.

You cannot ignore the technical expertise of a dedicated Influencer Marketing agency, to ensure you have access to cutting-edge market innovations.

So what I’m really saying is that great Influencer Marketing campaigns don’t look like advertising. They’re the stories around brands that your influencers share organically. Amanda Duncan, Senior Communications Officer at Microsoft, says that you should “focus on a long-term approach rooted in a two-way dialogue. It’s often the phases between campaigns and events that allow you to have in-depth conversations, get valuable feedback and really gain a deeper understanding around what matters to your influencers. Investing this time and valuable resources builds credibility. This credibility and trust with an influencer is key to ongoing success.” And they would know.

In upcoming articles, my colleagues and I will demonstrate how a kickass Influencer Marketing campaign should be run. You can look forward to learning about the importance of having a dedicated influencer marketing strategy translated from your brand and marketing strategy, how to effectively match the influencer’s audience with your target audience, how to manage your influencer relationship in order to protect and increase your brand equity, and finally, what’s required when your Influencer Marketing campaign is live. These articles (and more) will be released weekly. If you’re dying to know more now and you’d like expert assistance with creating and managing your Influencer Marketing campaigns, you can contact me on michelle@r2digital.co.za and follow us on LinkedIn

Michelle Marais

Michelle Marais

Michelle Marais is an experienced Head of Digital Services with R- Squared Digital.

She has over twenty years’ strategic and operational experience in the marketing and advertising sectors, having made the shift from traditional to digital marketing.

She’s inspired by content creators who have created spheres of influence across multiple social media platforms, transforming online campaigns into real life experiences for their audiences. Call her at (021) 276 0265 or send her an email.

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