In 2022, global spending on influencer marketing is expected to grow to a whopping $16.4 billion industry, up from $9.7B in 2020. Influencer marketing’s increasing value to brands is apparent in the industry’s year-over-year growth — not to mention the number of sponsorships and promotions in our social media feeds.
This ongoing shift from traditional advertising to brand/creator partnerships can be a real challenge for creatives and agencies alike. As more and more brands turn to social media influencers to spread the word, perceived downsides often run rampant among agencies.
What about adhering to the overall campaign? What about control over the message? For all the creative strategy that went into the brand guidelines, why is everything being left to some random Instagram personality?
For professional creatives, influencer marketing may seem a little bit like throwing things at the digital wall to see what sticks.
Rethinking the Influencer Paradigm
The truth is, with the right approach, influencers are a strong complement to agency work, rather than a distraction (or a branding dilution). Influencers can build upon agency work and use their own personal brand to enrich campaign message and styling.
Influencers offer the unique ability to execute a ‘campaign within a campaign,’ sharing their own personal perspectives on larger outreach efforts. Creator partnerships allow brands to supplement overarching campaign themes with the personalised, curated content today’s consumers are looking for.
Don’t Be Precious with Your Brand
In the past, a brand was what businesses told their customers it was. Today, modern brand success hinges on a far more customer-centric approach, which involves giving up some measure of brand control. Influencer marketing not only diversifies and personalises campaign messaging — it invites audiences to contribute to the brand itself.
Consider how influential creators can help shape, guide and influence people’s perceptions in a variety of ways (on a variety of platforms!) that help drive awareness and even affinity.
Let’s look at a broad example: a fast-casual restaurant chain with an agency-created campaign focused on regional audiences. Potential influencer strategies to bolster the campaign:
- Parenting influencers sharing via Instagram Stories how the restaurant fits into their busy lifestyles, showing in-the-moment quick clips that demonstrate relatable scenarios like fuelling up after sports practices or ordering in for a weeknight dinner.
- Young Millennial/Gen Z influencers sharing their authentic brand love via TikTok, leaning into high-impact visuals and music that highlight cult favourite drinks and ‘secret menu’ hacks.
- Geotargeted influencers driving specific interest through a local’s lens, connecting with like-minded audiences on Facebook while highlighting local/regional favourite menu items and sharing their own favourites.
Influencers are able to strengthen agency-created campaigns with diverse, genuine perspectives on the platforms where consumers are already spending their time. These creators know how to deliver the entertaining, relevant content their audiences have come to expect — and best of all, they invite consumers to become willing, active brand participants.
Tap Influencers to Fine-Tune Agency Creative
Influencers can help shape brand identity and overall associations, and they can also encourage specific kinds of consumer feedback. From likes and comments to direct messages and saves, platform engagement metrics help clarify campaign performance in real time.
As brands across the globe continue to deal with repercussions from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure ad campaigns are accurately reflecting consumer sentiments and business realities.
For instance, is a promoted product currently hard to find in certain areas because of supply chain issues? Is in-store shopping being advertised in a city that’s back under an indoor mask mandate due to rising Covid-19 rates?
Influencer marketing lets brands turn on a dime with their outreach, targeting, and messaging. It’s also a way for agencies to quickly analyse campaign feedback and make strategic adjustments on the fly.
The Final Word
Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a necessary evil for agencies to contend with. Let influencers lead the way to customers becoming part of a brand’s experience, creation, and representation. In the end, customers and brands alike will benefit — and agency-created campaigns will hold more sway.