Creativity and Paid Media Will Deliver Superior Results Every Time in Influencer Marketing
“Whatever size your audience is, you’re going to have a hard time reaching more than 7% of your Facebook and 25% of your Instagram followers organically,” said WHOSAY CEO Steve Ellis while opening up discussion on paid media in influencer marketing at Viacom in New York City.
A potential solution? Engaging content plus optimized paid distribution. “You can’t depend on organic reach, but you can make engaging creative,” said Ellis. “The content makes the difference. It will optimize every other part of what you do, including paid distribution,” he explained, adding that no one should be trying to reach just the fans of the influencer but also whoever else you need. “The benefits of these platforms is their ability to target who you want.”
Joined by Alysha Yuille, Director of Content at Carat, Adam Puchalsky, Managing Director at UM Studios and Casey De Palma, Director of Digital Engagement and Public Relations at Unilever, Ellis added that no longer being able to count on organic reach alone, the combination of a good idea, an excellent piece of creative and paid distribution will deliver superior performance.
"I think the issue around reach in the influencer space has to do with the fact that we put more emphasis on reach as we value and sell campaigns,” said De Palma. She added that by doing so, we’re perpetuating a cycle of catch up with influencers who are trying to increase their followings.
Inserting your idea into the zeitgeist can also be useful, as Puchalsky mentioned. The Managing Director at UM Studios shared the case of one of his campaigns that coincided with Cinco de Mayo. One of the ideas revolved around watermelon as a treat for the holiday. As it turns out, one of the most viral videos at the time also involved a watermelon, which created additional buzz and business opportunities for their advertising client.
“Ultimately, it comes down to what the objective of the program is and making the sure that the content your produce is authentic to the influencer,” added Yuille. The Director of Content at Carat explained that the brands shouldn’t force the influencer to do something that is out of character. She shared her work with a famous cookie brand, in which influencers such as Aly Raisman created their dream flavor. “We pressed it organically, and then we retargeted people in media who hadn’t finished watching the video to make sure that we drove that engagement.”
“From an ideation perspective, I think it’s essential that we stop thinking platform first and we think about what the idea is first,” said De Palma, adding that brands often come to her with platform-specific requests when it should be about figuring out what the best format is for that particular idea. She added that good content is good content whether it comes from influencers or someone else, so the opportunities to leverage that content through other channels, such as e-commerce are still untapped. “We are not thinking as far in the process as we should be.”
Yuille added that, from the media perspective, we need to make sure we keep audience first, talent second. “And, ultimately, make sure that the talent resonates with the content that speaks to the audience that we’re trying to reach,” she explained. “Attention is not given, it’s earned. So we need to make sure that the content and the storytelling are relevant enough that when we’re going to distribute it wider, it still resonates with the wider fan base.”
Diversifying your pool of talent, even looking into more traditional marketing approaches, could also help according to De Palma. “If we were to take a step back when we think about influencer marketing the idea of endorsing is not new, she said, explaining that influencer strategy should be about building a network of just not social influencers but also other types of advocates. “You’ve got to think about that holistic network.”
“And what about measurement?” Ellis asked the panel.
“This is at the heart of the transparency issue,” continued De Palma. She explained that the transparency issue is twofold, with one side dealing with the actual fraud in the space and the other dealing with the ability to measure impact. “We’re always trying to get more access to analytics, including the influencers’ analytics, so we can have a real measure of not only paid media but organic as well.”
Another missing piece in the space? Standardized measurement, according to Yuille. “Even though we have access to real-time metrics, that standardization across the marketplace in influencer marketing is missing,” she said, adding that, at this point, it’s still kind of the Wild Wild West: chaotic and moving at a very fast pace. “The other thing missing is ROI measurement, not from a brand lift perspective but actual sales.”
For Puchalsky, there is hope, however. “You can have an open dialogue with the influencer and tell her, ‘the goal of this campaign is to have people walk into our store downtown,’” he said, adding that companies like WHOSAY can guide brands to what works best for their specific needs. “There’s a ton of power there. Brand lift, recall, and sales are all critical, but the key is being able to partner with those that do deliver on the vision that you need.”