Trust Series | Be Real & Relatable with Influencer Marketing
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- The Trust Series reviews the first half of 2020 and shares how brands can use earned media practices to build trust, confidence and empathy with their audiences amidst uncertain times.
- Catching up? Click here to check out our first post in the series analyzing the current state of consumer trust in brands and media. Then, click here to read our second post on PR and here to read our third post on social media.
- Today’s fourth and final post explores how brands can use influencer marketing to reach their audiences in new ways through real, relatable and honest narratives.
Influencer marketing is a powerful strategy for brands to drive awareness, credibility and trust with their audiences. And, while modern influencer marketing may have its roots in over-the-top production, the trend towards more authentic content began a few years ago and continues to be the foundation of today’s most impactful campaigns.
This transition brought a shift from dream-like content to aspirational content — something audiences could not only identify with but also achieve. Suddenly we were invited into lived-in kitchens, filter-free family photos and conversations about the messy parts of life. The past six months have only accelerated this evolution and proved that real, relatable and honest narratives are here to stay.
With consumers now spending up to 50% more time on social media (Source: Harris) than they did pre-pandemic, influencer marketing has proven to be an essential — and resilient — marketing strategy. Beyond selling a product or service, it’s a powerful way for brands to show empathy, provide value and meet audiences right where they are. Better yet, it works:
- Trusted: 92% of consumers trust influencer marketing over traditional advertising (Source: Nielsen Consumer Trust Index).
- Relevant: A survey of 1,000 Instagram influencers reported a 67% average increase in likes and a 50% increase in comments since the pandemic (Source: A&E).
- Adaptable: Influencers can produce reactive, relevant and emphatic multi-channel content within a matter of weeks as opposed to the months it can sometimes take traditional content to be developed.
While highly effective, all influencer partnerships are under heightened scrutiny, with demands for brands and content creators to use their platforms to not only share the latest trends, but also inspire, educate and speak out on societal issues. So, whether you’re looking to promote a product or spark a movement, there are several things your brand should consider before engaging in influencer marketing efforts. Here’s a round-up of our top tips:
Listen: Get to Know Your Audience and Influencer Partners on a Human Level
- Meet your audience where they are: Keep a pulse on your audience’s needs, behaviors, and emotional state to inform messaging and ensure your partners are a true reflection of the type of people they want to engage with right now. Especially during uncertain times, people are less concerned with traditional product attributes and instead crave a sense of normalcy, assurance, inspiration — and even humor — as a form of guidance and escapism.
- Look beyond vanity metrics: Use a mix of marketing software, social listening and human insights to identify influencers that not only make amazing content but also drive great results. Carefully analyze their posts for consistency, authenticity and quality of engagements. And, even if you’re not partnering with them on a cause marketing effort, make sure your brand aligns with their take — and tone — on social issues.
- Choose influencers that reflect your values: One of the most important aspects of influencer marketing is selecting partners that align with your brand’s core values. This will ensure authentic narratives, quality engagement and true partnerships that can extend beyond one-dimensional tactics and blossom into multi-dimensional partnerships.
Speak: Embrace the Power of People Appealing to Other People
- Collaborate as true partners: Now, more than ever, it’s important to talk with your influencer partner about how your brand, product or messaging fits within the context of their content. Remember, influencers spent years developing their communities and have an intimate knowledge of how, when and where to communicate with their audiences based on region, age and socioeconomics.
- Be helpful: According to a Kantar study, 92% of people are happy for brands to continue to advertise during the pandemic, but 77% expect them to do it in a helpful way. That said, encourage your influencer partner to provide value beyond your branded messaging and product or service offering. What can they offer that no one else can? Harness the power of their unique voice and experiences to provide credibility and offer a fresh perspective.
- Be open to changing course: If we’ve learned anything from these past few months it’s that people are holding brands and influencers to a higher standard regarding social awareness. Amidst disruptive or historic events understand your carefully timed campaign may need to wait. Collaborate with your influence partner to assess the cultural climate and determine thresholds for when their audience will be most receptive to your content.
Engage: Take an Active Role Every Step of the Way
- Define relevant objectives: Depending on your campaign goal, results could be traditional like conversions or revenue. Or, they could be non-traditional such as raising money for a cause or a measure of sentiment surrounding an open dialogue about race and parenting.
- Stay connected: Influencer marketing shouldn’t be a “set it and forget it” mentality. During the campaign, be prepared to engage in authentic dialogue with the influencer’s followers. And after the campaign, regularly check in on the influencer, the conversations they’re having with their audience and the overall sentiment around a particular topic or issue. Remember, influencer partners have a valuable audience you are trying to reach, so it’s important to stay connected to gauge future efforts.
- Give them a seat at the table: Use the insights from your most trusted influencer partners to fuel future campaigns, product development and creative ideation. These partners are not only a reflection of your audience, but they are also skilled content producers, creative directors and marketing masters in their own right — a goldmine for any brand team.
There’s never been a better time to drive impact and produce relatable narratives with influencer marketing. Are you interested in creating an influencer strategy that will help your brand thoughtfully enter the conversation and build trust? Let’s chat. Contact Sarah Schmidt at [email protected] and Lauren Murray at [email protected].