In­flu­encers re­write rule­book

In­flu­encer col­lab­o­ra­tions re­quire a new ap­proach says Carat global chief strat­egy of­fi­cer San­jay Naz­er­ali

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - BETTER BUSINESS -

WORK­ING in strat­egy at one of the world’s largest me­dia agen­cies, I’ve wit­nessed count­less pitches about in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing and the grow­ing power of cre­ators.

With en­gaged au­di­ences in the mil­lions and pas­sion­ate fans hun­gry for con­tent, YouTube cre­ators are al­ready an es­tab­lished chan­nel for brands look­ing to run ads.

But in­creas­ingly, these YouTube in­flu­encers are also be­com­ing at­trac­tive part­ners for deeper col­lab­o­ra­tions.

Clients are ini­tially en­thu­si­as­tic, as­sum­ing this is the dig­i­tal age’s an­swer to celebrity mar­ket­ing and en­dorse­ment. Then thorny busi­ness ques­tions arise, such as:

What’s it ac­tu­ally do­ing for my brand? Should I do an en­dorse­ment or prod­uct place­ment? Isn’t it just for Mil­len­ni­als, beauty brands, and make-up tu­to­ri­als?

These have al­ways been tough ques­tions to an­swer. Even though al­most every­one has been jump­ing on the in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing band­wagon, few un­der­stand what “in­flu­ence” re­ally is or how it works. Un­til now.

To­gether with YouTube and Nielsen, my team an­a­lysed the re­sults of hun­dreds of brand and cre­ator videos in the US and the UK to un­der­stand the im­pact of in­flu­encers for brands.

It’s a crit­i­cal first step in es­tab­lish­ing a busi­ness-led rule­book for this new world – and it’s al­ready chang­ing how I ap­proach my own plans.

1. In­flu­encer mar­ket­ing is not the same as celebrity mar­ket­ing

YouTube in­flu­encers, how­ever vast their reach, are ab­so­lutely not “today’s celebri­ties,” and celebrity mar­ket­ing and in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing of­fer fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent ben­e­fits for brands.

For in­stance, we found that celebri­ties are more ef­fec­tive at driv­ing re­call than cre­ators (84% ver­sus 73%). Where YouTube cre­ators re­ally start to gain the up­per hand is in deeper brand in­volve­ment. Brand fa­mil­iar­ity is a good ex­am­ple. If we want an au­di­ence to re­ally un­der­stand us, our work, our val­ues, or our prod­ucts, then col­lab­o­ra­tions with YouTube cre­ators are four times more ef­fec­tive at driv­ing lift in brand fa­mil­iar­ity than those with celebri­ties.

2. It’s not just a ‘beauty’ thing

Beauty brands were one of the first to team up with in­flu­encers and cre­ators have es­tab­lished a huge pres­ence among the YouTube beauty com­mu­nity. About 86% of the top 200 beauty videos on YouTube were made by cre­ators rather than pro­fes­sion­als or brands.

But what’s in­ter­est­ing about our find­ings is just how far YouTube in­flu­encers stretch be­yond the beauty cat­e­gory.

We tested nine ad­di­tional cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing auto, al­co­hol, snacks, and toys. Across all nine cat­e­gories, work­ing with in­flu­encers leads to lifts in brand met­rics, from fa­mil­iar­ity to affin­ity to rec­om­men­da­tion. In some cat­e­gories, such as snacks and al­co­hol, they can have even more im­pact, driv­ing sig­nif­i­cantly higher than av­er­age pur­chase in­tent. So the idea that in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing is purely for young peo­ple who are look­ing at fash­ion and beauty brands sim­ply isn’t true.

3. The ‘how’ mat­ters as much as the ‘who’

Celebrity mar­ket­ing has his­tor­i­cally fo­cused on en­dorse­ment, spon­sor­ship, and prod­uct place­ment. In­flu­encer mar­ket­ing has de­vel­oped far more op­tions, and it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand which of these work best – and for which mar­ket­ing goals.

Our re­search found that deep the­matic in­te­gra­tions with cre­ators drive the high­est re­sults for brands. These are more in­volved in­te­gra­tions where the in­flu­encer plays a role in cre­at­ing a piece of con­tent – such as a demo – with the brand. They’re far deeper than prod­uct place­ments and they work more ef­fec­tively.

4. Don’t lose sight of why peo­ple love YouTu­bers

We of­ten as­sume that the right YouTube in­flu­encer is ei­ther an as­pi­ra­tional ver­sion of our tar­get au­di­ence or that they’re just like celebri­ties. Nei­ther of these as­sump­tions is cor­rect, and it’s per­haps here that celebrity and in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing dif­fer the most.

Whereas celebri­ties need to be trendy and stylish, con­sumers ex­pect cre­ators to be friendly, funny, and some­times ir­rev­er­ent.

If I take one thing from this study, it’s this: there’s a huge cul­tural shift in the na­ture of celebrity, au­then­tic­ity, and com­mu­nity – all top­ics we as mar­keters care about. And this shift is be­ing driven by a new class of di­verse, au­then­tic voices we call cre­ators.

While this new form of mar­ket­ing can be pow­er­ful, it re­quires a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. If we don’t play by the right rules, we won’t har­ness its full po­ten­tial.

For those will­ing to in­vest, it’s clear that in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing is more than a band­wagon. It’s a pow­er­ful, scaled form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Source: Thinkwith­ – a ver­sion of this per­spec­tive pre­vi­ously ap­peared in Huff­in­g­ton Post and Ad­ver­tis­ing Week 360.

BEAUTY BLOG­GERS: Beauty brands were one of the first to team up with in­flu­encers and cre­ators have es­tab­lished a huge pres­ence among the YouTube beauty com­mu­nity.

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