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Thinking differently about Influencer Marketing

Behind every influencer lies a creator

When we think of influencer marketing, we tend to think of a marketing channel; a means of distribution. How many people will our collaboration reach? How many sales will it generate? Although there is logic to such thinking, it does not fully utilize the influencer’s potential.

What if we were to treat these influencers as part of our brand’s creative process? Let me explain.

Creating high-quality visuals routinely is hard. I have worked with clients running paid media at scale, and content creation is a common problem. The pain is deep. Every organization needs imaginative content which will help the brand stand out. But how?

To make our jobs even harder, we know that User-Generated Content (UGC) outperforms studio-quality content.

But why? It’s more relatable? It’s different? Who knows.

We become blind to ads as consumers, making UGC centric advertising a logical approach. Your brand needs a way to produce UGC on a regular basis.

For the rest, let us think of influencers as creators. Forgo engagement, followers, subscribers or whichever quantitative metric you use. Creativity and aesthetics are our only benchmarks. This is the turn we took for our clients and it has changed our business completely.

What’s the Problem?

Your marketing department is worn out. Your ads are more of the same. You’ve hired professional creators to spice-up your advertising, but the results don’t stick. You continuously try to spark novelty across your team, but the everyday grind gets the best of you.

Content creation is a painful process. We ask of our marketing department to be creative, but we contradictorily assign them to operations-driven work (newsletter, website banner, product description, etc.). The execution of such tasks is crucial to a business’s success. However, It becomes hard for any person to be creative while trapped in the usual flow of everyday to-dos.

How can we move past this state of staleness?

Let me frame the question through the lens’ of a marketing executive in this situation: how can we generate high-quality and imaginative content on-demand?

The Answer

Build a business process! Cliché? In a sense. What we need is a scalable (I want more content for the Holiday season) and repeatable (I want new content anytime I need it) solution.

Let’s breakdown the process: Discover new influencers

  1. Pitch and negotiate
  2. Onboard and brief
  3. Gather feedback

In a nutshell, we want to find “outside-the-box thinking” creators, contact and brief them. We also want to get their feedback on our product throughout the process. I will be covering ways of communicating with creators later in this article.

So, how can we get the best results?

  1. Find influencers from different sub-niches. Diversity breeds novelty (a parachute junky will have a different take on your product than a yoga master).
  2. Focus on micro-influencers. Multiple niche creators use social media to share their craft with a small group of like-minded people. Don’t attribute importance to the size of the audience, as it has little relevance in our use-case. Aesthetics and creativity are our guiding light.

Side Note : By framing influencer marketing as a way to crowdsource a part of your creative process, you will need to invest more time on relationships than a typical influencer campaign. A traditional influencer marketing campaign is usually transactional and requires less handling.

How should you communicate with your creators?

Getting The Best Out Of Your Influencers

As marketers, we love Adwords and Facebook ads; what’s better than a plug and play system which gives you instant feedback on your performance?

Treating our process as such is a sure way to fail. We are dealing with people, and like with any relationship, we need to think beyond the transaction. It is your job to empower your army of creative consultants. The more thoughtful you are about this, the better your output.

High-level Guidelines

Within our agency, we give guidelines on the format and the elements of the product we want to be displayed (unique selling proposition, packaging, etc.). It is easy to be too restrictive and drag your fresh-minded creator into your tunnel-visioned worldview. We want outside the box content, not more of the same.

Creative freedom

The niche creator usually bears a specific style and/or craft he’s perfected over time. You want to leverage that. Let them surprise you. The Big Picture Share the bigger picture with your creators. Make them feel as if they are part of the team. Their input should matter to you. Let them know.

Is there a theme to your campaign? Is there a feel you want to create? Don’t hesitate to put together a Pinterest board with your fresh ideas. Ping your internal team and make this a collaborative effort. As mentioned earlier, be careful of restraining your creator’s imagination. Give them high-level guidance, without undermining their art.

Creative Insights

As a bi-product of your content creation system, you now have a set of diversified people with unique worldviews engaging with your brand. You should gather feedback.

Prompt creators to give you their ideas about your product or your marketing. The insight is outside-the-box by default; these creators are not rooted in the everyday grind of your business.

Think of this as a way to crowd-source your brainstorming to an army of creative consultants. Send a form and even call the ones who surprised you. Think of it as an idea generator. Share these insights with your team to build on top of them.

Original ideas from new people will spark your team’s creativity. Who knows, you might find the next thing to implement to marketing or the next product release. A considerable share of the value is hidden in the feedback these creators provide. Make it worth your time!

What’s Next?

By default, influencers tend to be artistic and creative, which is the assumption on which I wrote this article. You can still use influencers as a distribution channel. You can also leverage their reach, while having a creative focus. Remember that a considerable chunk of the value is in content creation.

Harness the relationships you build. You will rapidly have a small group of selected creators to enable your future content creation. This is powerful.

The novelty in your content will empower your paid media, mitigating ad blindness and fatigue. All of your marketing channels will have a fresh relatable feel to it.

Here is a question worth pondering on: What are marketing know-hows we could rethink? We get caught up in marketing best practices, but much of the outsized potential is hidden in plain sight. Best practices are meant to be broken, but breaking them requires thinking differently.

If you have any disruptive marketing ideas or you want to geek out about or you want to work with our network of creators, drop me a line at david@inbeat.co.