THE REAL INFLUENCER MARKETING MODEL

Psh! I’m gonna tell you a secret – give you a little piece of information that hopefully will help you navigate through the wild-wild-west of influencer marketing.

If you’re not familiar with my piece on why the smash & grab approach is turning infuencer marketing into a straight up shit show, I urge you to read it!

Anyway – let’s get this show on the road. Below image (sorry, I suck at creating images) to me, shows how most – not all of you, please don’t be insulted! – perceive and approach influencer marketing. And I’m here to tell you that influencer marketing has so much more to offer.

Using influencer marketing to primarily generate sales / downloads / traffic etc is absolutely acceptable and is brilliant…BUT

My four years in the industry has taught me that influencer marketing has so much more to offer. The first thing I’ve learned is that everyone chooses outreach over existing brand advocates – and the second one is that often brand advocates are generated off the back of a successful influencer marketing campaign, but most would consider this as a ROI that’s irrelevant.

I’ve actually learned first-hand that brand advocates and micro – influencers have the potential to recruit long-term brand advocates into your brand, which (surprise-surprise) is much more powerful than generating a one-off sale.

Just think of what Adidas has done around their Glitch boots – an invitation style product purchase mechanic. Every sale they make is has the potential to turn into a brand advocate and is part of a small, tight-knit community. They have built an extremely powerful, influential and loyal user-base, that they communicate with via dark social. Brilliant stuff.

Anyway – the inspiration for the my home-made chart below comes in the form of an article by Rand Fishkin (CEO of Mozrank) from 2014, talking about how content marketing is being approached the wrong way. My favourite part of this article is the quote below.

’’ They essentially grow this memory about your brand, about what you do, and they build up kind of what I’d call a positive bank account with you. But that bank account, there are not coins and money in there. There are experiences and touches with your brand. Those content touches, and those social media touches, and those touches that come through performing a search and seeing you listed there, those build up the capital in the account.’’

Here is the gold you’ve been looking for – the real thing you need to know about influencer marketing.

First – let me emphasise that for this model, my input is micro-influencers & existing brand advocates.

Consistent Great Content.

I say consistent because I think smash & grab is bullshit. You need to implement a long-term strategy that utilises influencers (for paid content) and brand advocates (for UGC – remember, influencers create paid-for content, not UGC.) Have them create authentic (sorry, I had to use this word.) content around your brand for at least 6 to 12 months. Take into account the quote above, followers come back – and they need to see consistent pieces of great content that they can relate to. We have to bear in mind that it’s naive to think that one piece of content will generate a myriad of sales- and what to think of trust? Having an influencer create a piece of content for your brand with a #sp or #ad mention – after which the brand disappears completely from the influencers timeline indefinitely, I argue it can – and should – be much more effective.

Another point here (that’s not in the model) is engagement. Well done for creating a good piece of content, but if you’re broadcasting it to an audience that’s not listening and not engaging – you will not see brand consideration go up. This is why it’s important to focus on smaller communities / influencers with stronger ties and more influence. When they create content – their audience is more likely to engage with it – and actually remember it.

Consistent great product / brand experiences

There’s a good reason I didn’t put the ‘relationship’ in here. We all know that Influencer Relationship Management is a buzzword within influencer marketing at the moment – and whilst I agree with the notion, I’m not the biggest fan of it – why? Because it’s built on the principle of common-goddamn-sense. We’re almost treating an influencer as an ”account” within account management, where the task is to have a great relationship with an influencer to have them ”on tap” for any opportunities that arise. Obviously the relationship aspect is an important part of influencer marketing – but it’s not the practice itself.

What’s more important to me however is providing the influencers with a great product/brand experience, which goes beyond content & relationships and even beyond influencer marketing. Providing your influencers with consistent great brand experiences should be a no-brainer, but it’s not. Make sure your customers have the best possible experience, offline and online. Don’t be like United Airlines.

However, this also applies to influencer marketing campaigns – I know of big brands that send out product to influencers in plain, unpersonalised boxes. Here’s the product – create the content, thank you very much. There’s no aim for a long-term relationship, there’s no input required from the content creator who knows exactly what their audience loves – there’s no input as to what the influencer thinks about the brand. The influencer doesn’t even get a chance to fall in love with the brand. Brands need to think ”shared-value” more – where brands build a strategy around influencers where both brand and influencer can grow together. Here’s a must-read Lululemon example.

I’ve a few examples from working at Come Round where paid-influencers have fallen in love with the brand off the back of our immersive campaigns, which I’m happy to share in person. Just send me a message!

Brand Consideration.

A crucial part of the ”sales funnel” that you don’t hear a lot of within influencer marketing – perhaps because we’re all content with the existing advertising norm that ” content generate sales ” ?

Consistent content increases brand consideration – because it’s built on the premise of memory structures. When a consumer consistently engages with content created by a micro-influencer – this taps into memory structures. (that’s a whole different topic!) what’s important to note here, is that when a brand keeps conveying a different message, it’s tricky to be consistent, and this affects memory structures, and in turn brand consideration.

As Rand explained – every time a consumer sees a piece of content they like (and preferably engage with) or have a great brand experience – they deposit an imaginary pound/dollar/euro into their brand account (ha!). More great and engaged content and more great experiences lead to the consideration – purchase gap being bridged.

Also bear in mind that recommendations from friends & family – and genuine online reviews contribute greatly to brand consideration – even more so than content does (another part of influencer marketing that is grossly under-valued – I’ve left them out of the image, to keep things simple – I don’t want to give too much away here!)

Brand Advocacy.

Here’s the true long-term effect influencer marketing has to offer. Brand advocacy provides a ROI that has the potential to keep on giving. I know from experience (yes, actual influencer marketing experience) that brand advocates are somewhat to fairly like to recruit additional brand advocates based on existing advocacy levels and the influence they have over their first-tier connections. This provides a ripple effect that is often not measured – but is incredibly effective.

Not only have I experienced this from campaigns I’ve worked on, I also do it myself. Below is not an ad, it’s my actual opinion. You can consider it a powerful example, and I’m sure you feel the same about brands that you love! I’ve been using Monzo for a while and have recommended it to 5 people I thought would benefit from it. I know that all 5 of them are now using the app, and I know that all 5 of them have gone on to tell their friends about it, too. I’m quite vocal about my support for the app – but I doubt they are actively scoping out existing brand advocates – potentially opting for outreach instead?

The point I’m trying to make is – there needs to be a strategy in place to harness this. I’m much cheaper than a micro-influencer (F.O.C.) and I’m driving ROI based on an excellent product experience, not content.

This is a part of influencer marketing that many don’t have an infrastructure for – and as such are missing out on incredible value.

Sales

Influencer Marketing has the potential to generate sales – but with the right infrastructure in place, you can find out who is generating sales – and in addition – how to leverage the influence of those who are buying your product. Smash & Grab is not effective enough. There needs to be a long-term strategy in place that will use the above model and will generate sales & brand advocates automatically. Remember; an influencer marketing campaign doesn’t stop once the sales target has been reached – it goes beyond that.

What you need to know!

There are a few important key takeaways here, the first one being that influencer marketing goes beyond content- and that a great influencer marketing campaign never relies on smash & grab tactics. The most important takeaway though is the fact that influencer marketing has the power to generate brand advocacy, a ROI I never read about.

ComeRound has been building great influencer marketing campaigns with brand advocacy of the heart of them since 2009 – and we’re still here in 2017. I wonder how many sales-generating influencer marketing agencies will be around in 8 years time.

If you apply this model effectively – you can build up an incredible cost-effective marketing platform that doesn’t require endless amounts of money to be spent on new advertising campaigns and continuous outreach efforts.

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