Influence Marketing Puts Brands First

By Kat Gates

The power of influencers combined with a great idea can help grow brands. When done right, influence marketing can create work that stops thumbs and drives business objectives and deeper relationships with consumers.

Consumers welcome your ads into their newsfeed, via influencers, because they are more likely to trust an influencer than a brand. Influencer marketing also opens up a whole new creative palette to bring ideas to life because influencers can say things that brands can’t.

As we do it here at WHOSAY, influence marketing is much more than just creating entertaining, engaging content. Our job as marketers includes finding authentic ways to create compelling content that builds on brand stories by putting the brand first and finding the right influencer of any level whose message best aligns with the brand’s objectives and whose followers have a high affinity for the brand. From celebrities to micro-influencers, we work with them all.

According to creative strategist and social marketing expert Christine Osborne Gill, “starting with the brand and then finding the influencer who aligns with your message has always resulted in content that delivers better results.” When you put brands first, you get content that builds brands and turns influencer marketing from “nice-to-have” to “must-have.”

And it’s a two-way street. For influence marketing to work there has to be an ongoing relationship between talent and brand based on mutual trust and respect. Just like consumers, truly professional and reliable creators do care about what your brand stands for and will consider that before deciding to work with you. Marketing consultant Simon Sinek’s quote, “people don’t buy what you sell, they buy what your brand stands for,” rings truer than ever in the influence marketing era.

Broadcast journalist and television Host, Tamron Hall, put it best in a recent interview during Social Media Week in Chicago. She told WHOSAY’s Paul Kontonis that she needs to know a brand’s story and what it stands for before deciding to work with them. “[It needs to be] in line with my beliefs. I want to look at my social media profile and say this [content] represents who I am,” she explained.

Putting brands first in influence marketing also leads to content that is authentic, engaging and that cuts through the clutter to achieve results. Gone are the days when it was enough to pay a popular YouTuber to take a photo with your product and ask her fans for a click. It kind of worked for a while but the fact that influencers are not marketers focused on the advertiser’s business goals has rendered this strategy useless.

There are of course other pitfalls to an outdated approach to influence marketing. Aside from the issues of brand safety, as evidenced by the recent scandal involving (in) famous YouTuber Logan Paul, ever-changing algorithms have diminished organic reach. Without a strategy to target the right audience and distribute at scale, most of your content won’t see the light of day.

In many ways, the old way of doing influencer marketing reminds one of where social media was about five years ago. Brands knew they needed to spend some of their ad dollars on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but they weren’t sure how effective it was or if they were measuring the right metrics. This way of approaching branded content has been a lot of “one-offs” where celebrities with massive followings were given free-reign with little to no accountability. It’s been influencer first, brand second. And it doesn’t work anymore.

The best influence marketing is made the same way as all great advertising: digging for insights and creating ideas that ladder up to a brand’s message and then building executions that use the right creators in interesting and entertaining ways. Add a killer creative, and a well-crafted and executed distribution strategy, and you have all the ingredients to make influence marketing that builds your brand up for the long run. Now more than ever, better ads deliver better results.

Kat Gates is Sr. Creative Director, Creative Services at WHOSAY