Influencer Marketing Works, If You Do It Right

The value and effectiveness of influencer marketing continues to draw the media’s attention as many find influencers such an odd phenomenon. This week’s Wall Street Journal article highlights the struggles brands and companies have engaging influencers and understanding their value.  

First and foremost, it is important to remember that influencer engagement should not be viewed as the one stop shop for driving a brand’s sales.  Much like traditional advertising or any other marketing tactic, reaching consumers requires a multi-faceted approach and a mix of marketing tactics to drive meaningful brand sales.  Too often, influencer marketing seems to be presented as the end-all and be-all for consumer engagement rather than merely one way to engage consumers with your brand. 

That said, working with influencers can be done thoughtfully and strategically to align with a brand or company’s overall goals.  To do well, authenticity is critical, as are access and transparency to influencers’ data and analytics. 

I also want to address a few key points and criticisms brought up in the article. 

Influencers can “buy” their followers:  This underscores the importance of data analytics and having access to influencers’ data, which we require as part of our contracts for clients.  It is also why we look at engagement rates and other metrics beyond followers to make sure we are partnering with authentic real people who believe in the products we represent. 

Compared to traditional advertising, we don’t know how many people are seeing our influencers’ posts.  Today, with the data and Google analytics tools we have access to from our influencers, you CAN see that level of data.  You just have to invest in the tools and ask the right questions.  

Influencers work with any brand.  Some do and you have carefully vet the influencers you work with to ensure that you have as authentic partners as possible. Some brands are just looking at reach not authentic match.  Like any marketing tool, you have to make sure that you are carefully vetting your partners.  

Consumers are jaded and don’t believe in influencer content. This drives back to the authenticity of the influencer to a brand and the content you are looking for them to create. If you ask an influencer to post content that isn’t in line with their own usual content, it’s quite likely that it won’t perform.  A brand has to align its content request to the influencer’s tone, interests and content and not just ask that influencer to push brand messaging.  

Overall, I think the article underscores what we know—which is that any marketing channel when not used properly, won’t work.  Whether the brand is re-targeting a consumer on social 100 times with ads because they searched the topic once, or working with influencers who don’t believe in the brand, the success of any marketing campaign is only as good as the strategy you employ to engage those influencers in the first place.