Why Your Influencer Strategies Shouldn't Be Managed By Your Media Team

Social influence democratized the age-old “influencer status” by devaluing the idea of influence entirely. It turned everyone into an influencer, and in the process, it turned a strategy like influence into another media metric.

As CPG marketers, we then began to look solely at the number of impressions that influencer campaigns added to our plans rather than what having someone use and demo our product meant to begin with. We went back to a rudimentary measure like reach to measure the effects that peer-to-peer recommendations can have over decision-making power. It’s as if somewhere along the line we needed another media tactic to add to campaigns.

One of the questions we get all too frequently in the efficiency-based world of CPG is “why should I spend time and money on an influencer strategy when I can just buy a reach campaign instead?” It’s definitely a relevant question when the only KPI you’ve setup is the equivalent of someone counting foot traffic with a tally-clicker. Not to say reach is a bad objective, but here are a few other reasons you might want to re-evaluate that influencer campaign your agencies are talking about:

  • They help drive awareness and promote choice by putting everyday products into the hands of trusted sources, or having benefits be presented in authentic ways to audiences you strive to reach.
  • They drive relationships with key cultural figures, and help grant access to information that those figures could use to a mutually beneficial advantage.
  • They help build longer-term recognition of your product’s partnerships via strong presences within specific niches.

One of the biggest things missing from this equation (especially in the world of CPG) is time. Put differently, we need to stop looking at influencer strategies as one-time investments for a unique sku or product benefit. A proper influencer strategy is one that gets better with time, evolving with frequency and growing alongside your brand’s overall product innovations (not just that one benefit you added to the mix). The fact that you chose a list of influencers, bloggers, or celebrities to interact with and talk about your new product is great, but they’re only seeing you once, and are probably comparing your product to a preconceived notion they had to begin with.

Why not “annversarize” that partnership, go to them over a few product launches and show them how you’ve evolved your brand’s offering? Have them make the relevant connections of what you’ve done in their own voice, and have them judge improvements and changes for themselves. On one hand, you’ll get the reach you’ve been buying, on the other, you’ll get a frequency and impact play you wouldn’t have had before: an understanding that blogger XYZ is familiar with your product and has been chosen on more than one occasion, a sense of history, which is ownable and unique. 

To borrow from the world of broadcast, it’s a similar situation to what happened with Oprah, Dr. Oz, and Rachel Ray. Oz and Ray appeared on Oprah’s show so many times beforehand that the Oprah demographic couldn’t help but begin to trust these secondary personalities. When the day came for them to break out onto their own shows, audiences followed. Oprah was the trusted source, and her stamp of approval was all over Oz and Ray — at high frequencies — to the point where they became synonymous with one another.

Overall, we need to bring back longer-form metrics like association and recognition to the world of CPG and influence. Work-in strategies that pay off in both the immediate and the longer-term, especially in industries like ours when autopilot and refill purchasing can be so hard to break into through reach alone, strategies like influence in the right kind of circles can be our dark horse to consideration and trial.

8 comments about "Why Your Influencer Strategies Shouldn't Be Managed By Your Media Team".
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  1. Uriah Av-Ron from Oasis Public Relations, March 2, 2015 at 10:10 a.m.

    Interesting post, Paulo, though I'm not sure I understand why influencer strategies shouldn't be managed by the media team. The media team can manage continuous / on-going influencer outreach so that it's not a 'one-off'.

  2. Paolo Pazzia from Mill Film, March 2, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.

    Hey there Uriah,
    Thanks for the comment! A big reason CPG marketers love influencer campaigns is that reach aspect. But when it comes to things like longer-term relationships or long-term recognition of a figure speaking about your product, these metrics might best be suited for another type of agency [PR, Creative, etc]. While I don't doubt the ability for a media agency to manage ongoing influencer outreach - metrics reported on should be closer to PR or Creative rather than purely Media-based. I hope this sheds a little more light on my perspective.

  3. Uriah Av-Ron from Oasis Public Relations, March 2, 2015 at 10:41 a.m.

    Hi Paolo -- thanks for clarifying. We actually agree. I didn't realize that you were referring to ad agency media when you wrote media.

  4. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, March 2, 2015 at 10:49 a.m.

    The media team tends to manage and review the campaign during a specific window of time. I have only had one client who continued to monitor the "influence" beyond the campaign dates and it was awesome. When you put the right product/service in the hands of the right social influencer, the benefits will reach beyond the campaign window. It is well within the scope of the media team to manage the strategy, but the influence should be monitored beyond the campaign window for agencies and clients to fully appreciate the benefits - there is an opportunity here you will not get from spots and dots of a traditional media campaign.

  5. Paolo Pazzia from Mill Film, March 2, 2015 at 11:01 a.m.

    Hey Dan,
    I think that was one of the prompts that got me thinking - the number of times great influencer campaigns get punctuated with a report, or forgotten the next time a similar campaign rolls around. Part of me thinks that it's due to the quarterly/seasonal nature of the CPG industry, the other part fears that it's what's actually happening to influence in our industry.
    Thanks for the build!

  6. Carlos Pacheco from Truly Inc., March 2, 2015 at 11:07 a.m.

    Great post Paolo! For me Influencer marketing is more in line with organic social, content and search marketing tactics. Engagement metrics need to be accounted for which isn't something media teams don't really measure.

  7. Paolo Pazzia from Mill Film, March 2, 2015 at 12:52 p.m.

    Totally agree Carlos - influencer marketing [be it PR or digital] has a lot in common with content marketing. I would however be hard-pressed to agree with you around the notion that media teams don't measure engagement [engagement should be the driving force with all things social - hence the whole 'social influence' bit - no?]

  8. Brendan Howley from twinfish, March 2, 2015 at 5:18 p.m.

    I'm with Carlos and your response, Paolo and thank you both! But there's more to this. The thinking in your piece is all true but misses vital point: what the devil is the story you're telling? If that were the prime consideration—if story were the transactional basis of social interactivity (which it is)—then influencers would be measured well beyond 'share': you'd want/have contextual metrics to vet how those influencers *actually advanced the story*—added value to the story and *then* shared it such that something actually happened. All else is passive: that alone is an active measure of how a brand story operatively influences. Reach means nothing if people do nothing: the real game is to tell stories that actually incite folks to *do something.* Engagement is the necessary condition (to pull Aristotle into the fray): action is the sufficient. Me, I'm thinking that a revolution in data frameworks (and likely terminology as a precondition to building them) is what's called for. I'm doing my bit: I'm building a context engine to figure out how emergent story actually networks by vetting where the story's likely to go next. Thanks so much for raising this...

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