Our Co-Founder, James Street, on why everyone should rethink their attitude to influencer marketing.
Everyone at home - usually around Christmas time - gets asked the question... "so what is it you do now?" And I am sure we all have a set answer locked and ready.
Mine, which I have honed from speaking to friends who work in banking, will start with 'we connect brands to influencers...'
If I get a look like 'what the hell is an influencer?' I will follow up with 'influencers are the cool kids on Instagram.'
Further blank looks? I plough on with...
'If Nike wanted to launch a new shoe, our company finds influencers to wear that shoe and feature it on their accounts which will be seen by all of their followers'
That is about as condensed an explanation as I have managed to muster, before changing the topic to the weather.
Influencer marketing, at least I find, is quite difficult to explain quickly to someone who knows nothing about it - especially if they are not on Instagram all day. But even for the people in marketing it can mean so many different things. Some people or brands will only have experience working with influencers on Youtube which is very different to working with people on Snap or Instagram etc.
From our experience at Whalar, which predominantly does campaigns on Instagram, there is a huge part of the industry which often gets overlooked: Influencer marketing as a source of content production.
Breaking down the Terminology
Marketing is obviously the operative word in ‘influencer marketing’ but we should be calling it ‘influencer content production services...and marketing’. We don't actually call our influencers, ‘influencers’, (and usually, they don’t want to be referred to as an influencer). We call them creators with influence, or just creators. We don't care if they have 1000 followers or 10,000,000. If they create cool content, we want them on board.
So let's ignore the other stuff for a moment and focus purely on the content production side of influencer marketing. I am going to attempt to answer some of the burning questions you might have with examples below.
1) Is it as good as what I produce in-house or with an agency?
A big worry of course is - can an influencer rise to the challenge and produce content which is as good or as creative as an agency? It can be as creative or as generic as you would like it to be. The trick is choosing the right influencers to create the right content and crafting the brief accordingly.
@willamazing | 149k followers | 10,012 likes | Dior
@tonimahfud| 3.5m followers | 326,453 likes | Dubai Tourism
@qmike | 103k followers | 6,144 likes | Paul Smith
@sieraa*_*prescott | 56k followers | | Joe and the Juice
2) These are great images but what about video? Gifs? Cinemagraphs?
There are creators out there who can produce any form of content you need. The trick is finding the right format. Here are a few different results from contrasting medias.
3) I need creative shot around the world and I need it done by someone who understands my brand.
You can get anything shot anywhere in the world, and not only that, you can get it done quickly. We did one campaign with Leesa Sleep which involved taking an image in every state in the U.S. and we were able to do it within 30 days. Try doing that with an agency.
@taraherron_photography | 84.5k followers | 2,800k likes | Leesa
Also if you own a French handbag brand wouldn’t you rather a video taken by a French girl in Paris with an audience over a guy in London in a studio? That is what leveraging influencers allows you to do.
@alinakolot | 146.7k followers | 6,000k likes | Starbucks
@tonimafuhd | 3.5m followers | 303,000 likes | Dubai Tourism
4) Will it work for my brand? A lot of brands don’t consider influencer marketing because they think it only works for fashion and beauty brands.
If you are an 'unsexy’ brand don’t feel left out - you can still leverage the content side of influencer marketing. In many cases we will work on campaigns that are content only. Many influencers are reluctant to post about mundane products, but they will only be too happy to create content for it. Not only that, but it is significantly cheaper if the influencer is not posting to their own accounts. Influencers manage to make mattresses... toothbrushes… hoovers... creative, cool and in some cases *sexy*.
@mrsjessicaroberts | 138k followers | 18,000 likes | Beko
@allthatisshe | 554k followers | 38,900 likes | Dyson
5) The key question on everyone’s lips... What does it cost?
Every influencer has a get out of bed price and it depends on a hundred different factors. As a general rule of thumb, and somewhat obviously, the more influence a creator has the more they charge but take a look at some of the images below. None of these assets cost more than $1000 dollars to create AND the images went out to a combined audience of over 300,000 people (I know we aren’t talking about the reach now but I couldn’t help myself). If you think about it, an influencer has no over heads, no fancy offices to pay for, they are the camera operator, make up artist, model, creative director, strategy and post production all rolled into one and as we always say technology has unlocked creativity and all of this opportunity.
You can create all of this stuff using a camera, laptop, a phone and lots and lots of Youtube tutorials.
@shelleyannem | 38.2k followers | 850 likes | Volvic
@vanessamckeown | 86.5k followers | 1,550 likes | Gousto
@buburayamracer | 180k followers | 17,569 likes | Converse
6) The Rights
So many CMOs just see influencers as a marketing tool that is notoriously difficult to put an ROI on. How about you use influencers to create awesome, geographically relevant content that you can then put into your FB ads which you can then 'properly measure'? I guarantee you it performs better than the content you have just created on that expensive shoot 3 months ago which you are now repackaging for all your social channels and geographies.
Everyone needs to rethink the way they think about influencer marketing. I am going to stick with my set spiel for the bankers out there but, more brands and marketeers need to understand and unlock its full potential.
P.S. we have a printed coffee table book of the awesome images we have taken for brands so if you would like a free copy sent to you - drop us an email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.P.S. any questions unanswered? Let me know via email: email@example.com
Additional content in banner from @cestmaria, @sangwo0 and @eslee