Think About Influencers as “Strategic Consultants”
Influencer marketing has evolved over the past 10 years – from being transactional and impersonal to being built on relationships and content people can trust. With this evolution, marketers have realized that deeper partnerships with influencers give their brands significant opportunities for driving more value as well as achieving growth and differentiation in their category. From strategy and planning, ideation and concept testing, to optimization and amplification, creators can help strengthen a brand’s “big ideas” and every small decision in between.
The question then becomes how do we enable brand marketers to shift their perspective, tap into deeper influencer potential, and begin to leverage influencers beyond content creation alone?
It’s simple. We get internal stakeholders to see the value of integrating influencers into every facet of the marketing processes: research, planning and strategy, ideation and concept testing, content creation, and lastly, distribution and amplification. With influencer touchpoints at each of these marketing stages, a brand is influencer-proofing their digital campaigns start to finish, long before they are launched.
When creators expand their value and deliver results that impact a brand’s bottom line, brand perception, and creative output, influencers jump off the Instagram feed and into the boardrooms, brainstorming meetings, and strategy sessions with enterprise brand marketers. Influencers become more than just content creators – they become valuable strategic consultants to brands.
Tailor Your Research Methods and Categories
Within each stage of the marketing process, there are various categories in which influencers can provide valuable feedback and serve as strategic consultants for your brand. These categories include:
- Brand: Research into an influencer’s audience and their brand perception, affinity, and loyalty
- Product: Research into an influencer’s audience and their product experiences, product dislikes, product wants, and product needs
- Competition: Identification of a brand’s competitors who are top of mind (unaided), preferred from a given competitor list (aided), and reasons why
- Category: Trend identification in a brand’s category – shopping preferences, new channels, content, or behaviors
- Culture: Emerging trends influencers are observing or experiencing in sub and mainstream culture, thus creating content around
- Platform: New platform features marketers may not have access to yet, as well as emerging platform trends
- Consumer: Trends influencers identify through their audience – brands, content preferences and formats, content styles, behaviors
- Influencer: Trends influencers are seeing among their peers – preferred brands, content preferences and formats, language, aesthetics
Uncovering insights from these categories can be achieved through three major research methods: written, group, or individual research. These methods vary in scale and effort, with written research being the most scalable and lowest lift versus individual research being the least scalable and highest lift. Depending on the topic, impact, and priority of the research opportunity, brand marketers can tailor their research methods accordingly to achieve maximum efficiencies. Read here for more best practices around influencer research.
Influencers Want To Be More Than Just Creators
Major enterprise brands, like Clorox, are already seeing the value of working with influencers beyond just content creation. By establishing an influencer advisory board with a group of curated creators, Clorox was able to leverage their expertise as valuable consultants to inform their advertising strategies.
“The goal of the new council of social media influencers will be to make sure that its YouTube content, as well as its content in general, is “more human, more authentic and less obvious in our approach towards driving demand,” said Magnus Jonsson, U.S. VP of the Clorox Company’s cleaning division.
In a survey with over 170 influencers across various platforms, industries, and demographics, Mavrck asked influencers about their experience working with brands outside of strictly content creation campaigns. While 52 percent of influencers said they have worked with brands in a consultancy-like fashion, 76 percent of influencers do not believe brands are leveraging influencer insight, experience, or expertise as effectively as they could be.1 Additionally, 100 percent of influencers said they believe creators can add value to more stages of a brand’s marketing process.1 Furthermore, 98 percent said they would be interested in consulting for a brand, whether that be providing insights on campaign ideation or product feedback, or participating in focus groups.1
In a Mavrck interview with Mavrck Copilot, Jenn Haskins, the influencer behind the popular blog and Instagram account @HelloRigby, Jenn authentically highlights the value of working with creators as consultants, simply stating, “It is a smart business move to hire content creators and social media influencers as consultants when planning a digital media campaign.”
As a content creator and strategic consultant herself, Jenn also adds that, “Content creators often have many years of experience in the industry already, and can help you identify trends, key marketing strategies, and influencers that match your demographic. They can also offer their experience from the campaign start to finish, not only in the research phase but also in outreach, execution, managing deliverables, and reporting.”
Jenn drives her point home by touching on what all marketers care most about: resources, time, and ROI. “Most of all, social media influencers and content creators can offer insights to brands that can help them from putting time, energy, and money into the wrong places.”
Take Your Ambassador Program Up A Notch
Brands who are currently running influencer ambassador programs, establishing strong influencer relationships with their core creators, are the best candidates for leveraging influencers as strategic consultants. Tapping into these ambassadors for deeper insights at various stages of your digital marketing planning process will level up your program.
Simply put, marketers can produce influencer-proofed big ideas, campaign concepts, product launches, rebrands, social impact initiatives, and customer experiences, when they choose to think about influencers as more than just content creators, but also as strategic consultants.
Invite influencers to your meetings and allow them to prove their value through written, group, or individual methods across various categories of research for your brand. Go straight to the experts and use research to influencer-proof your decisions, improve cost efficiencies, and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
For more info on how to leverage your creators as consultants, reach out to us to chat.
Footnote: 1) Influencer Value Framework Survey; Jul 26, 2020; 174 Responses.