So You Do What, Again?
Dec 3, 2015
The holidays are a time of reflection, giving and spending time with the people that mean the most to you. During this time, you may eat indulgent foods, go to special events, see people you don’t normally see and be asked to explain what it is that you do on a daily basis for work.
Raise a digital hand if you’ve had this conversation at least once over the holidays. See me raising mine too? With so much of what we do as marketers being “behind the scenes,” I think it’s very understandable that sometimes it’s just not that easy to explain. I’ve definitely said “Well yes, I know that’s not my name you see on the author line but I helped write it!” or “Yes, I know it looks like I’m just browsing the Internet, but I am actually finding opportunities for engagement!”
In this post, I answer some questions about influencer marketing from my super awesome, super smart and super supportive Dad – Thomas Kotary. After all, he deserves to know that private school education is being put to good use.
Thomas Kotary (Dad): Okay from the top, what does influencer marketing mean?
Influencer Relations Specialist (Daughter – Brittany Kotary): Influencer marketing is how a brand amplifies their message or content through…well, for lack of a better word, influencers. Influencers can be anyone – celebrities, media reporters, business analysts, classic car gurus, CEOs, professors or a Starbucks barista who has a huge following on Instagram because he belts T-Swift remixes when making drinks. (Dad, T-Swift is Taylor Swift.)
Dad: (Brittany, I know who Taylor Swift is do you think I live under a rock?? Geesh, haters gonna hate.)
B: Okay, okay – just checking! I like to think of influencer marketing at the beginning and end of a marketing circle. When a brand has a message or product they want to communicate to their audience, they first need to think of how or who can help them reach that audience in an authentic and positive way. If the answer to that is through working with an influencer, it is really important that the brand take this consideration when creating a content marketing strategy—things like messaging, collateral, campaigns, etc.—so that it is received as authentic to both the influencer and the audience they are trying to reach. A piece of content or message from a brand is more likely to reach an intended audience when it is viewed as a recommendation or referral from an influencer – someone your audience relates to and trusts, like a neighbor.
You’ll find I use the word “authenticity” a lot (what was that – already the third time?), as it is absolutely the most important element to a successful brand and influencer relationship and engagement.
Dad: Got it. It seems like you are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter a LOT. How do you use social media to connect with influencers?
B: Using social media to connect with anyone—whether that is your college roommate or an influencer—is about building relationships. It’s about creating a place and community for conversation and content sharing. Influencers don’t really exist without social media – rather, they are created and sustained by the networks and people who actively choose to pay attention to them.
When a brand finds an influencer they want to approach to work with, they need to begin by following and engaging with them and their content on social media. And not just an hour before you want to pitch them; the longer in advance the better. It seems basic but it goes a long way to show the influencer that this brand is paying attention to them and what types of things they typically post on social channels.
Dad: So it can’t just be when the brand needs something from the influencer.
B: Exactly! It has to be authentic and mutually beneficial for the influencer as well as the brand. If it is a forced endorsement or engagement, the influencer’s followers will be able to tell immediately – resulting in the possibility of a negative perception.
As a consumer, I can totally tell when a brand has just “found someone cool” to push their product or service. Is Kim Kardashian the right person to recommend the latest set of golf clubs just because she has forty-nine million followers on Instagram? Probably not. Caitlyn Jenner maybe! It’s imperative for brands to really do their homework to know which influencers actually make (or don’t make) sense to approach and engage with.
Dad: Makes total sense that it needs to make sense. How can brands actually put this into practice?
B: I’d start with an in-depth analysis of where and to whom their audience goes for information. Find out which influencers are most influential in those areas. Then, find the answers to a lot of questions. What are they saying on all channels – not just the big three social networks. Have they engaged with brands before? If so, what was the reaction from their audience? Was it positive? Negative? Did they disclose they were in a paid partnership? It could be as simple as asking them – sending an email or commenting on an Instagram photo “Hey, we over here at XYZbrand love your stuff. Would you be interested in possibly partnering up on some things?”
Remember, influencers are human too – not every communication with them needs to be calculated or stiff. Check out their Twitter feed, maybe they were also enjoying Shondaland and #TGIT last week and you can connect over your mutually shared continued grieving of McDreamy’s death on Grey’s Anatomy. I like to keep a few key things in mind when working with influencers – be smart, short, informative, human and realistic.
Dad: Didn’t it used to be #TGIF? Kids these days. Are there any brands or industries doing this influencer thing well in your opinion?
B: I think lifestyle consumer brands do an especially good job engaging with “beauty gurus” on YouTube. This video from Eleventh Gorgeous for example was done in partnership with Jergens. Because they have built a following (over 1 million subscribers on YouTube) that chooses to consume and trust their opinions and content, it doesn’t come off as overly promotional to their audience (who also happens to be a pretty perfect target market for a new Jergens product). An authentic and mutually beneficial engagement for both Jergens (the brand) and Eleventh Gorgeous (the influencer). At Centerline, we are really proud to have been involved in some recent influencer work with Lowe’s Home Improvement for their Blogger vs. Builder Grade Bath Campaign and Elegant Baby for their Princess Mousie and Into the Woods campaigns.
What other questions do you have about influencer marketing? Do you have a “so you do, what?” story to share? What is your favorite holiday tradition or treat? Share them with me!
A lifelong northerner, I began my career in agency public relations in Rochester, New York, later moving to New York City, working with a variety of technology and consumer brands from Xerox and IBM to Blackberry and KAYAK. I loved the fast-paced and entrepreneurial environment and learned so much about myself, client and people management, media relations and how to properly mail merge. Now a relocated northerner and wannabe southerner, I still love the pace, people and spirit of agency life in Raleigh. As Centerline’s Communications Manager, I get to help amplify the amazing content that we produce as an agency and thought leaders through events, media placement, relationships with influencers and social media.