Influencer marketing is all the rage, but there’s not a clear understanding of what constitutes influence.
A few years ago, I participated in an influencer event for a consumer brand. It was an expensive affair put on by the brand’s agency. There were a few dozen “influencers” there, which, it turned out, meant a collection of people with blogs and social media followings. A photographer captured it all as a glitzy brand experience. Some people blogged or shared about the event, some didn’t, and it left me wondering about the return on that investment. From the photos that were posted, it looked like a beautiful bit of marketing. From the actual impact, not so much.
Influencer is a designation with an almost magical glow to it. But not all influencers are created equal. Not everyone with a social media following is an influencer and not every influencer is a good fit for every brand. Brands should also be wary of those who refer to themselves as influencers. There’s a lot of snake oil in influencer marketing.
I like the influencer marketing approach taken by Propercorn, a British popcorn brand. They prioritize deep collaborations with small-scale influencers over shallow plugs by large ones. They recently teamed up with designer Rachel Thomas on an outdoor campaign using the designer’s custom work created for Propercorn. The campaign spanned buildings, buses, phone boxes, and sampling spaces and was a genuine collaboration for both.
Creative director Cassandra Stavrou described the Propercorn influencer marketing approach this way: “Anything we produce with influencers has to offer value and be beautiful to look at. The trick is having a bespoke approach.”
I think every brand working with influencer marketing needs to find their own bespoke approach that ties to what they’re trying to do as a business. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Here’s a related cartoon I drew on influencer marketing a couple years ago.