What If More Influencer Marketing Isn’t What You Need?
March 28, 2023
This is not another post challenging you to do more marketing via creators (people whose business is creating content as their own brand) or via others with influence like key opinion leaders or celebrities. I’ve been in this space for years and recognize marketing with creators is more complicated than doing it yourself. Creators have to be sourced, vetted, contracted, briefed, reviewed, approved, amplified, measured, and paid. That list doesn’t phase my team - we have CREATOR in our titles - but I can’t fathom all the other tasks begging for your attention every day in marketing and communications.
Instead, this is a post challenging you to ask, “Do I really need to do any more influencer marketing? What is strategically missing from just using an AI service to generate a brand post about baseball, targeting that to baseball fans and shutting my laptop for the day?”
Specificity in an influencer marketing channel strategy is unlocking vastly different creators, different briefs to creators and different results.
1. You need reach
It’s the most popular answer to why a marketer needs influencer marketing so if that’s your answer, welcome to the club. Why then are there 9 more things worth reading? Because when you evaluate the ballpark organic influencer marketing creator cost of $10 per thousand followers and that content might be seen in your market by 30% of those thousand followers, this organic influencer marketing reach could cost 300% more than buying paid media. You’ll likely agree the reason thousands of brands pay that premium is because this reach fills another of your needs below.
2. You need engagement
A runner-up to reach in answer popularity. Partnering with most sizes of creators does have a higher average engagement rate than brand ads.so it’s completely understandable this is what you want from creators that you’re not getting from the AI baseball post. The caveat to discuss is that in influencer marketing studies from Meta, Nielsen Research and others, a 4% engagement rate versus 2% has no correlation to higher awareness or conversion from the other 96% of people. Engagement rate might be best as a proxy metric for one of the other 8 strategic needs creators can fill and not as the sole reason you worked late last night approving next month’s creators.
3. You need insight into diverse communities
You’re not 100% sure how your brand fits into the language and behavior of a unique and increasingly niche community. Someone who leads that community will translate for you into the spaces where that community thrives, some of which you’ve never heard of.
4. You need creativity
You need your communications to have a more memorable idea than competitors and creators can sing, chase trains, paint like a good boy and other creative magic.
5. You need credibility
Often referred to as the more vague authenticity, you need the audience to know someone has credibly vetted your product or service. Credibility can come in the form of expert credentials appropriate for your message or just a believable personality with less skin in the game than your marketing team.
6. You need relatability
Also part of the infamous authenticity of creators. You want the audience to consider your product because they realistically or aspirationally relate to the persona and humanity of the creator.
7. You need efficiency
We produce brand assets for many of our agency’s clients with creators who don’t publish the assets to their followers. They know the platforms, they’re agile, they’re available at different experience levels in all time zones and millions of them are trying to grow their content creation business from a side-hustle to full-time.
8. You need off-page SEO
You need better backlinks from third parties and more mentions of your brand in the spaces your audience is searching. Creators aren’t just posting fun videos dancing on street corners, there are partners who can collaborate on blogs, discords, subreddits, 500 character tweets and other indexable assets to increase your digital footprint.
9. You need web3 innovation
Roblox. Augmented Reality. NFTs. Creators are experimenting and learning every flavor of technology you want to test and learn.
10. You need attention
In a world of skippable digital ads, this might be the need added to reach that gets you the most return from creators. You need to earn the audience’s attention long enough to understand your message. Makes sense to partner with someone to humanize your message who’s trying to make a living by monitoring trends and persuading thousands of people to not scroll past.
11. You need ________
Stare at your audience insights and ROI long enough and you’ll get an 11th need for creators you’re not getting elsewhere. Probably something concerning legal or your boss’s kid wanting to meet a celebrity.
So despite all of the data showing the incremental value of influencer marketing organically and in paid advertising, growth might not be doing more of it. It might start with re-evaluating how it complements that fantastic baseball post. Once you do or if you would like to do so with a team to hit a home run, let’s chat at email@example.com about how we can help.
I did say upfront that creator was in my title how did you think this was going to end 😎
Note: Special thanks to ChatGPT, a language model developed by OpenAI, for providing valuable assistance with some elements of this blog post.
About The Author:
Neil Mohan is the new SVP, Creator Marketing at Citizen Relations. He has held prior roles in creative technology adoption and creator marketing at Meta, Edelman and Ogilvy. Sign up for his upcoming LinkedIn Live here.