In the News
Why influencer marketing agencies are the key to unlocking growth in the Creator Economy
VP, Veritas/Meat & Produce
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This piece is part of series on Social Commerce, Influencer Marketing, and the Creator Economy.
A decade ago, brands looked to influencer agencies to connect with the ‘who’s who’; today, they come to us to wield the transformative power of social influence through their entire marketing stack. As part of the agency that felt so strongly about the term “influencing the influencers” that we trademarked it, I am keenly aware that influencer marketing long predates the current hype that social media has generated around the industry. When we look at the prioritization of influencer marketing in today’s marketing mix, it’s no longer considered a nice to have but rather a core component of brand planning.
It wasn’t always this way, though. This has provided a fascinating opportunity to watch the shift in the marketplace from a client service perspective. In today’s creator-centric economy, brands require influencer marketing agency partners to keep apace the transformation in this space.
From Impressions to Engagement
In the days of blogs and burgeoning social media channels, the most significant opportunity influencers afforded was the chance to reach new audiences. The focus was almost exclusively on maximizing the number of impressions from influencer content. Guaranteed organic reach and high blog readership provided cost-effective ways for brands to reach audiences that otherwise may never have interacted with them. The deep relationships that influencer marketing agencies held with influencers were critical to obtaining the best earned and paid opportunities for our brand partners and allowed for agility in influencer placements.
As social channels moved into the spotlight, accounting for more media hours consumed across generations, the focus shifted to engagement. The goal was to measure the attention content could generate through authentic connection with audiences in an increasingly competitive digital world. With this, we saw the rise of micro and nano influencers who built strong relationships through two-way communication with their audiences, maintaining consistently high engagement. Trusted recommendations from the right influencers could bring your brand into the consideration set for your target audience. Dedicated audiences of nano influencers also provided an opportunity to access niche consumer segments that otherwise would be challenging for brands to find. Our key to success was pairing the right influencers with our brands, ensuring alignment on values and demographics.
The Creator Economy
Today, getting the right message to the right person at the right time has never been more critical – or more difficult as the consumer ecosystem becomes increasingly sophisticated. New channels and content formats provide evermore opportunities to attract and engage new and existing audiences with relevant content. Moving influencer marketing from a single tactic to a full-funnel approach creates a new world of opportunity for brands, while at the same time raising countless new considerations. With all these factors to contend with, the role influencer marketing agencies take on has never been more critical. Today’s influencer marketing agency partners must help clients navigate this ever-changing world by:
- Going beyond the numbers: As data-driven marketers, it can be attractive to make decisions based solely on the immense data we now have at our fingertips. While these are fundamental parts of our discovery and vetting processes, we believe it’s equally important to review the qualitative elements of an influencer agreement: alignment with brand values, the types of social conversations creators drive among their followings, and, importantly, any content or connections that may increase brand risk.
- Capitalizing on available technology: Today’s digital tools provide capabilities that aid every step of the process: diving deep into audience demographics, reviewing years of content to ensure brand safety, authenticating audiences to remove bot traffic, and analyzing results. The available options can also be overwhelming. Here, the right mix of talent (agency experts with a deep understanding of the landscape) with technology (digital SaaS and DaaS tools) can supercharge campaign results.
- Keeping human connection at the center: True influence is built on strong connections between agencies and influencers and influencers and their audiences. Authentic connection is essential, from the relationships we build to the content we create.
- Letting creators be creative: Our influencers are partners in the creative process, not simply another outlet or a channel to distribute brand messages. Influencers know their audiences better than anyone. Leaning into their insights and creativity will lead to more authentic content and experiences that resonate. True partnerships with influencers allow for co-creation and collaborations that can excite and convert.
- Researching and reviewing: Due to the steady growth of influencer marketing, we now have a wealth of research to help inform and guide everything from partnership models to accurate approaches for optimizing reach. Every campaign is an opportunity to test, learn, and then review performance to better optimize results in the future.
There has been a tremendous acceleration in influencer marketing growth and investment. When done well, it works. When we examine the transformation of influencer marketing and the creator economy in just a few short years, it becomes clear that more evolution is to come. Leaning on agency partners with deep knowledge of the discipline, facility with the technology tools driving efficiency through the space, and authentic relationships with influencers will help brands get the most out of this fast-moving space.
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