Help, I need an influencer!

News that YouTuber Joe Sugg will star on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, and that contestants on Love Island will earn more than £1.1million in […]

News that YouTuber Joe Sugg will star on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, and that contestants on Love Island will earn more than £1.1million in sponsorship deals vs Oxbridge undergrads who can expect a meagre £815,0001, can leave few in doubt about the on-going power of influencer marketing… even if the Love Island headline was a little depressing for those with higher academic hopes for their offspring.

With time being more and more precious, getting the attention of your audience and then engaging them remains the biggest marketing challenge. Trust in establishments and news formats remains low, so people are continuing to curate their own news feeds, making influencer marketing more and more coveted in the marketing mix. It is no longer the preserve of brands, corporates are now engaging influencers too.

Influencer marketing is growing exponentially – three-quarters of US advertisers2 now use influencer marketing because research shows that it delivers three times higher click-through rates than paid social3. It’s hardly surprising then that we are all grappling for a piece of it, when it offers huge opportunity for brands and corporates to integrate their messages directly and authentically into the content their audience is seeking out.

The challenge is that there is no one size fits all for influencer engagement, but if you want to go beyond paid for celebrity endorsement, authenticity and credibility remain the two most important words.

Don’t get me wrong, Rihanna may have done wonders for the launch of Vita Coco Water, just as Kim K will do for her latest Yeezy campaign, but Jack Wills’ campaign recruiting Seasonaires – university students – and Adidas going straight to the grassroots of football were a more authentic way for them to engage their audiences, and the results were impressive because of it. Just as if you are selling insurance, a money-saving expert like Martin Lewis may be a more credible name to engage an audience with financial messaging, rather than Iggy Pop.

Good influencer marketing is about focussing on the right mix of influential people for your brand and audience. From Youtubers, celebrities, to the academic, expert and the personal-brand, which is right for you boils down to what motivates your end audience and whether you are looking for reach, engagement, credibility or authority.

The reality is that whether you are looking to engage chefs, the chairman, middle-management, employees or beauty technicians, peoples’ field of reference is quite narrow and rooted more in accessible influencers or people we can actually relate to.

It all starts with the 3Rs – Reach (audience size), Resonance (engagement power with your target audience) and Relevance (contextual fit). In doing so you will find relevance with the right group and the right value exchange which will transform a brand – from awareness to advocacy.

So, if you are about to embark on your first campaign, or want to correct the issues with a previous foray, as with all excellent campaigns think about the brief and ask yourself some simple, but key questions.

  1. What’s the story you want to tell and what is your goal? Are you looking for awareness, engagement, referrals or sales? Who you engage will alter dependent on what the success metric is. Celebrities and macro-influencers (fulltime social media celebrities like Joe Suggs) will deliver awareness but the authenticity of the engagement will be lessened as they work with so many brands in a purely transactional way. If you want engagement, an independent expert to add credibility, micro-influencers or brand fans may be more relevant.
  2. Who is your target audience? Dependent on your target audience, think about the best channels to reach them. If you are targeting a young millennial, Instagram is the channel du jour, but for business leaders Twitter or LinkedIn are more suited, so ensure the influencer you are engaging is active on the right channels for your messaging. Just because Adidas Glitch and Glossier rocked Instagram for their launches, doesn’t make Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Snapchat any less relevant to your needs if that is where your audience is.
  3. What is your offer to them? Good influencer engagement is about forging a relationship, yet 67% of influencers say they are approached by organisations who never offer them something in exchange for their advocacy. Not all want money, so what exclusive content or experience could you provide? Could you give them training? Could you boost their posts by amplifying through your PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) channels?
  4. Be clear on what would you like them to do. Influencer engagement is about relinquishing control to a more authentic and credible voice, but you should be clear in your expectations to help the influencer to deliver against them. The ask could range from a sponsored post, tweet from your event, product reviews, content creation, live chat or a channel takeover. Just make the value exchange clear and remember to engage in their posts if they have made the effort to share content to their network.

While Kim K, Rihanna and the new power couple Jack & Dani may get your campaign ‘eyeballs’, think if they are sending out the right message for your brand in a way that your target audience will engage and believe in it?



1. Frontier Economics study
2. 2017 study by Association of National Advertisers
3. MullenLowe research