Brands are starting to realize that influencer marketing is more effective when they work with ‘middle-class’ social media creators. Industry experts agreed on that point during a Vidcon 2016 panel titled “Working with Hundreds – Or Even Thousands – Of Digital Influencers at Scale.”
Moderated by Tubefilter founder Joshua Cohen, the Industry track panel featured longtime influencer marketing experts with extensive experience working on campaigns featuring social media influencers. The panel was quick to note that up to 90 percent of views related to products in a variety of industries come from earned media content rather than branded content. The panel also noted that those views don’t just come from top-tier influencers like PewDiePie, Michelle Phan and Connor Franta. Panel members said that brands are usually better off finding creators that have smaller, more passionate followings and deeper engagement with their community.
Most vocal of the bunch was Ricky Ray Butler, senior vice present of digital at Branded Entertainment Network, who warned about the dangers of working with creators if they are unfocused and lack clear instructions. Understanding your brand’s goals and KPIs first is key, Butler added. Then, brands can focus on getting value from the content created by providing detailed guidance to the influencers.
Dane Golden, a YouTube influencer consultant, noted the value of working with ‘micro influencers’ who have stronger relationships with their community. The panel pointed out that engagement numbers (actual interactions from likes, favorites, comments) are more important than having the largest number of followers or subscribers. Engagement is the source of earned media value and much of the true ROI for influencer marketing campaigns.
Tonie Shin, creator of the Nyx awards and a longtime voice in the world of beauty industry influencers, agreed with this idea. Shin said working with a cross-section of ‘middle-class’ influencers provides both a variety of voices and the deeper engagement they tend to get. She noted that many influencers help her identify other likeminded members of their community who end up working on the same campaign.
Butler said that when a brand finds the ideal influencers for its products, it is easier to reach what he called a ‘consensus circle’ of product messaging and influencer goals. That is important to guide creators in production of influencer content that delights users instead of driving them away with an advertising feel. Without the right systems in place, Butler warned, communities surrounding your influencer could launch a backlash.
In contrast, Shin was careful to note that too many systems can restrict freedom. She said that the best, most compelling content is created when influencers are given freedom to speak as they choose. She endorsed the idea of supporting and building community among influencers. Shin’s had success setting up opportunities for influencer education. Through mentoring and classes, creators learn to support both the brand’s and their own engagement and growth goals. “If they understand best practices, they are more likely to stick to them,” Shin said.
The panel counseled the Vidcon 2016 audience on a few key points as it answered questions:
- Influencer marketing isn’t a sideline. This is a full-time effort to produce and distribute content with social media creators that take an interest in your company.
- Ensure your own tracking. Make sure you have a way to get information about the clicks and engagement. Do not rely on influencers for accurate reporting.
- Don’t treat influencers as employees, but as clients. Pay them in a timely manner and respect the fact that they can help you deliver on your goals. The best influencers will be back for the next campaign and will learn what works best for both your brand’s and their own success.
- If an influencer isn’t a good match for your brand, don’t pursue them. Only work with creators who have an affinity for your products and services.
For more information on how Vidcon has become a must-attend event for brands, influencers and fans alike, check out this video from alistdaily: