NYME2017: Should We Even Call It ‘Influencer Marketing’?

Let’s face it: some people just hate the word “influencer.”

“That’s why, at WHOSAY, we like to call it ‘influence marketing’ because it involves much more than just the influencer,” WHOSAY CMO Paul Kontonis said at New York Media Festival 2017’s “How to Effectively Use Influencer Marketing” panel.


Kontonis was joined by Rebecca Duke, Senior Brand Manager, Mars Wrigley Confectionery; Marc Hustvedt, CEO, Above Average; Will Lee, Group Digital Director, Sports and Entertainment, Time Inc.; Phil Ranta, COO, Studio71, and Maureen Polo, General Manager, Fullscreen.


Polo agreed with the premise, explaining that, when it comes to the audience, they don’t see so-call “influencers” as such but as content creators who deliver the sort of entertainment they’re expecting when they follow them in the first place. “There’s a level of trust in traditional media that is diminishing,” she said, while also mentioning the increasingly pervasive use of ad blockers.


Ranta, who moderated the panel, added that, when it comes to influencer marketing, “there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen,” referring to the explosive growth of offerings from the selfie-style product-placements to more sophisticated operations—which led the group to discuss the very first steps marketers and brands ought to take before even starting a sponsored campaign.


“Figure out the objectives and purpose of the campaign first,” Lee said as most of his co-panelists nodded in agreement. “You gotta make sure you ask all the questions,” Polo intervened, referring to issues such as technology (do they have proprietary technology? If so, how does it work?) and talent (do they have direct access to the talent or do they book her through a third party?). “It’s a mix of art and science,” she said.


“Influencer marketing can sway sentiment, but it’s gotta be done right and it’s gotta be measured,” Kontonis said, emphasizing WHOSAY’s  “influencers are good, influence is better” motto that relies on setting campaign objectives, targeting the audience, casting the right influencer talent, developing the best creative, distributing at scale and measuring as media to execute influencer marketing campaigns that work.


Lastly, the top marketers were asked to share their advice with someone who’s about to approach influencer marketing for the first time. “Make sure you trust the influencer, keep it authentic and don’t try to over-control the message,” said Polo. “Learn and respect the influencers’ ‘superpowers,’” Hustvedt said, referring to the fact that some influencers are better at certain formats than others. “[Don’t forget about] paid media, it’s a huge part of it,” said Kontonis, reminding the audience that the days of viral organic reach are long gone. Last but not least, Ranta reminded everyone to “have fun!”