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Why influencer marketing is about moments, not impressions

Influencer marketing is a young industry, and as many other young industries, it is surrounded with people who are opinionated, rather than informed. In this series "Misunderstandings about Influencer Marketing", we cover some of the most dangerous opinions and misunderstandings facing the influencer marketing industry. In this first section, we cover one of the fundamental differences between traditional marketing and influencer marketing.

Myth: “Influencer marketing is about buying impressions”

Through most marketing mediums, you aim to buy reach and impressions. You aim to spread your marketing message to your target audience. Influencer marketing emerged a few years ago, and most people look at it the same way as they look at other mediums - it's a way of buying impressions.

This is wrong. Influencer marketing is different to the other mediums for two major reasons:

a) Influencer marketing is based on a relationship between the influencer and her/his following;

b) Influencer marketing is about showing the audience what they want to see, rather than what you want to show them.

Let me show you why.

One of Zlatan' Ibrahimovic's four goals against England 2012...

 
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I've followed Zlatan Ibrahimovic for over a decade. I've watched most of his games, spent hours watching interviews, reading articles and engaging in his social media posts. During this time, I've not only become a fan, but I've got to know him. I at least feel that I know what drives him, what he stands for and how he behaves. We've spent moments like the above together. The Zlatan that I've got to know over the last decade, is someone who would rather go unsponsored, than to wear a brand that doesn't share his values. On his social media accounts, the content was made to inspire and entertain the audience. Until one day....

Zlatan's instagram
 
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About six months ago, Zlatan posted this sponsored post. It's a sponsored post for teeth whitening. There is no background story to this partnership. There is no intention to entertain his followers. Neither is there any indication of any respect for the relationship he has with his followers. It is posted to make money. In a few seconds I had lost much of the respect that I had gained over the last decade.

Now, here is another, better way of doing it. In 2016 Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest against the unfair treatment of minorities by law enforcement. It was hugely controversial. In fact, it was so controversial, Colin hasn't played a game since.

A while later, Nike released their now classic one-sheet ad featuring a close-up of Kaepernick's face with the caption: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."

They signed Colin up as one of their ambassadors. They bought into his values. And he became a part of their values. He became an extension of their voice, and they became an extension of his.

Colin's sponsored post.
Colin's sponsored posts for Nike.
 
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Colin then started to share the announcement on his social media accounts. He started to explain what it means believing in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. Which is what Nike have always been about. He started to share other incredible stories of people who had gone through similar journeys. Videos that his audience loved, resonated and engaged with. They shared a moment together. All in partnership with Nike.

Colin Kaepernick on instagram
 
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When Colin then started to share products that you could buy, as a part of this partnership, it was completely different to what we had seen from Zlatan. This time, we knew exactly why Colin and Nike had established a relationship. We knew that they shared the same values as Colin, and most likely as most of his fans. So the followers allowed Nike to become a part of their relationship with Colin. Together, Colin, his followers, and Nike formed a meaningful relationship, that in the end will drive sales.

And then - SOLD OUT!

Colin K post
 
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There are two learnings to make from the above example:

1. You need to respect that this is a relationship that has been built over months, years or even decades. These followers know their influencer or celebrity. They know what they stand for, what they like and how they communicate. Anything that doesn’t look authentic will get noticed, and can harm or even destroy that relationship.

2. The content needs to be of value to the influencer, rather than the marketing message. It needs to entertain, inspire and engage the audience.

Influencer marketing is not about receiving a marketing message on your screen. Influencer marketing is about becoming a part of a special, strong relationship, and utilising the voice of the influencer to inspire, entertain and engage their loyal audience.

If you do it right - you will create moments, not impressions.

Fredrik Martini Andersson is client service director and co-founder of Tailify

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