If you’ve checked out my previous blogs, then you’ll find that I’m a big fan of bullet journaling. I often watch videos about bullet journals on YouTube. Besides their drawing style, I also pay close attention to the notebooks and stationery they use. When I need to buy stationery, I often choose the ones that appear in those YouTubers’ videos. The reason is simple — that stationery looks very good in their hands. At the same time, I wondered if I could make myself a nice drawing by using the same stationery.
This is my mindset as a consumer — I trust the YouTubers I follow, so I trust the products they use and recommend. I have always been in the position of consumers to receive information from them, but I rarely thought about how to build brand awareness among more consumers as a marketer through influencers and the huge influence of social media.
I enjoyed the lecture from Ashley Walsh last week. She was invited as a guest speaker to present influencer marketing in our course. Ashley has extensive experience working in social and digital media — she has been doing so for over a decade. She has worked as a social media and influencer lead at North Strategic/Publicis Groupe since 2018. The clients are many big brands such as American Express, Sobeys, and Samsung. In this lecture, she gave us a detailed introduction about the main concepts, workflow, and current trends of influencer marketing.
In this blog, I will share my main takeaways from the talk. There is some content that you may understand from a consumer’s perspective, but don’t understand how it works from a marketer’s perspective, and some content that is an insight into the industry of influencer marketing, so I hope you enjoy this blog.
Influencers and advocates
I found a great nail polish that works well. I wrote a post about the brand, the color, and how I felt about using it and included a photo on Instagram. The brand didn’t pay me to do this, I just thought this polish was worth sharing with you based on my real shopping experience and how I felt about using it. Meanwhile, a makeup blogger with a large number of followers also recommended this nail polish — the brand and color are the same as the one I recommended. She also provided a lot of information about the product and included a photo. But this was a result of her collaboration with the brand — she was tasked with promoting this product. Accordingly, the brand will pay her. In this scenario, I am the advocate, and she is the influencer. Perhaps you can vaguely sense the difference between influencer and advocate, so let me provide you with a clearer explanation from a marketer’s perspective.
Influencers are engaged via contract, with guaranteed minimum posts/approvals. They promote through their influence and the metrics can be measured. But advocates are different. Although advocates also promote the product or brand, they are not sponsored or cooperate with the brand. They would like to promote it because they have a good customer experience from it. They don’t need to comply with any agreement with the brand because they don’t have a contract. They don’t get paid by the brands and the result is hard to measure.
Having the support of advocates is a very good thing for the brand — it proves that the brand is worthy of being believed in by consumers. But to show the brand voice, reach a larger target audience, promote the brand in a more targeted and purposeful way, and also facilitate the measurement of the publicity effect in the future, it is more effective for the brand to cooperate with influencers.
How to ensure success
There is a wide variety of social media platforms and a wide variety of influencers. If a brand wants to achieve marketing success, finding a random influencer to work with will not work and may even hurt the brand. Therefore, it is important to understand the key messages in influencer marketing. A marketer needs to understand what factors will ensure success:
- Contracts Agreements
- Creative Guidelines
- Creative Briefing Considerations
- Disclosure Guidelines
- Brand Approval Process
Can the success of influencer marketing be guaranteed if these processes are completed?
This reminds me of a question we asked during the lecture: What happens when there is a PR crisis in influencer marketing?
The freedom of social media brings with it many factors that are difficult for marketers to control. I did see some failed influencer marketing on social media as well. Ashley told us about her real work experience. This involves a lot of parts. For example, it needs to be considered from the stage of choosing influencers, you should do as much background research as possible, choose influencers who match the brand’s style and values, and understand their image on social media. The contract should be explained in as much detail as possible and checked thoroughly in case of any possible problems. If problems did happen, there should be full communication and coordination with the PR team. Remediation after the fact is not ideal. What a marketer should do is eliminate all hidden problems as much as possible in the preparation process.
Influencer marketing is growing rapidly and on a larger and larger scale. It appears on a wider variety of social platforms. It has also developed many new forms and is not limited to just posts. Nowadays live streaming is a very popular way to attract the audience. People no longer feel that influencer marketing is a distant thing for them (although many may not realize that it is influencer marketing). They prefer to see content that is authentic and close to their lives, rather than being over-polished. This requires marketers to conduct thorough research on their target audience and use content creation techniques. Everyone can participate in social media, so there should be a variety of voices on social media. People want their voices to be represented and heard on social media. Influencer marketers should also have the ability to identify and hear different voices, whether they come from the majority or minority groups.
Influencer marketing is something I want to work on. I love browsing content on social media and learning about a variety of different lifestyles and values from social media. So this lecture brought me a lot of inspiration about the factors I need to consider in my work as a marketer, the workflow, the fascination, and the challenges in this work. Ashley has been working in the industry for over ten years, which I am very envious of, and I wish very much that I could be so lucky to be in a field that I love. She has always had a strong passion for advertising and pop culture, and she would like to explore various content. You need to have the ability to work in influencer marketing and it is important to show the agencies that you can do it. You need to actively seek out information about the industry and agencies and actively connect with them.
I think maybe I need to start thinking seriously about how I should use social media from today. Should I be checking social media content every day to pass the time? Or can I view the content and think about what’s behind it. I can think of many things: why does this influencer have the credentials to work with this brand? What story-telling approach did they choose? Who might their target audience be? What are the key messages this campaign is trying to convey? I’m not just a consumer anymore, I’m a future marketer and I should have more perspectives to think about.
I would like to thank Ashley Walsh for presenting the lecture and Professor Wendy Greenwood for providing this opportunity. Such an opportunity is very valuable to me. It allows me to know more and be well prepared before I become a real marketer.