Why the future of influencer marketing is community
Influencer marketing has evolved over the years, from a novelty to a marketing tactic entrenched within modern businesses. This evolution has meant that the way we run influencer marketing campaigns has changed too.
The image below is a visual representation of the traditional influencer-brand funnel and the process influencers and brands undertake during the campaign process.
What this shows
The fact that both influencers and brands follow the same funnel can be considered a good thing. They’re on the same page and seem to be working with the same structure. This is probably largely due to an increased understanding of how the industry works. One-off campaigns are also not categorically bad. For some brands, it does make sense to run a one-off campaign, especially if marketing budgets are heavily weighted towards a different marketing tactic.
However, there’s another way brands and influencers can work together for better results.
Turning the funnel into a cycle
The funnel approach to influencer marketing is a byproduct of the industry maturing. Brands and influencers are on the same page in regards to how a campaign should work.
Is this the most effective model, though? If influencer marketing is to become fully automated within your business the funnel approach is not the best system for long-term growth. Instead, consider turning the funnel into a cycle. This creates a shift towards advocacy and retention which ultimately leads to success.
Working with influencers on a long-term community basis offers brands a wealth of benefits they would struggle to achieve using other methods.
First, achieving sustained growth from influencer marketing through added Earned Media Value (EMV). These metrics can be used to highlight direct ROI for a business.
For brands, ongoing outreach and tracking of influencers is tough. By limiting the number of influencers a brand works with, they get to know them better and build a stronger relationship with them. As influencers stay with brands for extended periods of time, they’ll naturally recruit or attract other influencers just like them to join the ‘brand family’. This creates an automated influencer/brand ambassador process that allows segmentation of influencers based on their affinity. Brands will be able to run campaign/product/event launches effectively – making the biggest impact with fewer resources. It also measures longterm loyalty by seeing which influencers regularly talk about a brand. This data could be used to reward the super fans and try to re-nurture influencers at risk of churn.
Solidify messaging by making partnerships more authentic and sustainable overall. Working with influencers on a long term basis means, over time, they hone in on the messaging a brand would accept as well as the messaging their followers expect to see. It also leads to improved authenticity. Trying a product once is great PR, but having an influencer proudly representing a brand over and over, shows true loyalty and brand advocacy
Beyond that, long term relationships inevitably lead to increased brand safety. Knowing influencers as well as the type of content they post for themselves and brands makes collaborations faster – influencers no longer need to be ‘coached’. Instead, trust enables them to automatically adapt their content creation style so that it works for their audience as well as the brand.
Challenges with creating an influencer creator community
Although the benefits of working with influencers on a long term basis outweigh working with them on one-off campaigns, there are still some factors to be aware of. Firstly, a community involves maintenance and management. Can a brand dedicate the time to effectively manage the community and nurture the influencers within it so they become brand ambassadors and true advocates?
Working with influencers on a long term basis is all well and good, but only if selection, verification, communication and tracking processes are all strong. Failure to do so could result in long term immeasurable results.
Before working with a brand ambassador, make sure the selection process is right. Using a signup questionnaire and asking the right questions will help validate whether they’d be a good fit.