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By 15 May 2017 | Categories: Communications

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Do brands need to understand their influencers? Avtaar Mohanlall, Digital Media Strategist at The MediaShop says "Hell Yes!"

Word of Mouth is probably one of the oldest and most trusted methods of marketing because there’s nothing like a good recommendation of a product from someone you know.

This has evolved over the years and has led to the growth of influencers, brand ambassadors, spokespeople and celebrity endorsers. These are all used by many brands in many different ways in order to increase engagement and gain the age old favourite objective of ‘virality’ on their chosen campaign.

According to Forbes 5 Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2017 more and more brands are increasing their influencer strategies and relying on them to perform more than just an endorsement job, but rather relying on them to be a lot more creative within their own circles.

Despite not having an actual measurement of ROI, this forces influencers to think out of the box in order to get their content to gain traction within their subscription base, however this is where I see brands still lagging behind.

Brands choose specific influencers because of their audience and in order for a piece of content to resonate with the consumer it has to have a sense of who the person they are following is all about, their look and feel, tone of voice etc.…Yet we still find brands sending influencers dictated scripts or stock images and really limiting the creativity that made the influencer attractive to the brand in the first place.

Our personal social media feeds are updated with endless amounts of content. According to Facebook content is updated every couple of seconds so it takes something a little extra special in order to stand out. In my opinion, consumers will be able to see straight through a scripted endorsement and if poorly executed you might find it going viral for all the wrong reasons.

Brands do have a tendency to retrofit influencers into their brand positioning instead of allowing them creative freedom - granted they need to be guided to some extent but not fully controlled. As a media nerd there’s nothing worse than a receiving a message that was written by someone who has no idea why I follow a specific person but still thinks that standard messaging will convince me to use their product.

So I guess my next question is, how far is too far? Brands still have an element of fear when executing influencer marketing. In order to create thumb stopping creative it has to be unique, never seen before and dare I say slightly edgy. Brands tend to stay clear of the ‘edge’ or the slightly controversial in fear of upsetting their followers but staying closer to the middle of the island isn’t always the right strategy.

Looking at 10 Impressive Examples of Influencer Marketing Campaigns by HubSpot the common successes seem to be a series of content that drives the power of storytelling, utilising high quality images and video. Finally, they all allow the influencer to communicate the brand to their subscriber base the way they ordinarily would any other piece of content - by being original and entertaining. We need to give users a reason to engage with our content other than the fact that a popular person is endorsing it.

With marketers predicting an increase in budgets allocated to influencer marketing more thought needs to go into who is selected rather than what they’re saying. The right influencers know exactly what content gets their followers ticking so let’s leave it to the pro’s to unleash their creativity and inject their own flavour of originality into the brand.

To put it into perspective, brands have approximately one second before someone scrolls past your content so you need to catch them quickly! But what makes that thumb stopping content? An interesting headline? A video title? Is it the image?

The bottom line is that brand’s need to know what makes their consumers, and more so their influencers, tick in order to get more products off the shelf.

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