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:
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
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.