The New Economy Of Social Influencers

Moderator Kerry Perse, managing director, OMD Create

Lauren Clinton, senior manager, content and social media, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
Jessica Newton, VP, digital strategy director, Arnold Worldwide
Amanda Sims, associate manager of social and digital, Premier Nutrition

Kerry: We all have a different POV on how to use influencers because of role we play in our organizations. We’ll take about how we engage with them and how we measure success. We view influencers as great way to reach consumers. We hold our influencers accountable.

Lauren: We try to leverage influencer marketing from a full-funnel perspective. We are 150 years old this year. Influencers help with modernization. 

Jess: We work across financial services, CPG, across the board. We’re about content creation that tells a story that is authentic to the brands we work with. Very specific campaign or a more evergreen basis. When we play with influencers, make sure it aligns to what the brand is doing; otherwise it becomes #ad. 

Amanda: We work with micro influencers to high-reach content creators. Top of funnel to increase awareness. 

Kerry: How do you pick the best influencers to work with? Criteria, process? Top 3 criteria.

Lauren: We are looking for a good brand match. Core tenets, values for the brand, reflected in influencer and how they manage their content and communities. Make sure there’s a level of “real” person-ness. They’ve created their own brand.

Jess: Quality of content, making sure it aligns to the brand. Is it going to augment the work already in the market? We want to make sure it’s not totally in outer space, feel complementary to what is already happening. Not looking for influencers to sell a product. Trying to engage more, leverage their audience to make a better connection to the brand. Ties back to primary KPIs.

Amanda: Make sure influencers align with our brand value and fit. We take a lot of time to cultivate relationships. We can tell if they can speak about it authentically. Example, looking for video we couldn’t produce. Found influencer who could do so.

Kerry: Influencers perfect combination of art and science. From media perspective, take a look at past performance data. Can they deliver an effective CPM or cost per view. Next topic: how various panelist engage with influencers and preferred models. Do I go to influencer directly or best to use a network?

Amanda: Brand has grown based on WOM and influencers. Important to own brief and feedback, over time collaboration efforts take off. The longer we worked with these influencers, the better. It does take some time to work with these direct relationships, lots of emails, phone calls. 

Kerry: We work through a network, takes a lot of project management. Access to different talent pools. It’s all about how quickly you want to activate, how much heavy lifting you want to do. Also, content usage and terms?

Lauren: so many of our brands are in the lawn and garden category and if one piece of content could have a life across other brands, channels. At the end, if there is a second life to put this content to work, we do that. Negotiate for right in perpetuity. We use non-union talent. Important to think into the future. Planning for longevity of content.

Jess: In contractual stage, all about not only just what makes sense for budget but making sure we have usage rights on our channels, in paid media, living on website. Negotiate perpetuity where possible. Budgets can prohibit that. Always thinking about rights for paid and elsewhere. Potential if it should become a commercial, OOH. 

Kerry: what’s the best operation model for working with influencers? Evergreen? Loyal, produce great content? Dial up from campaign perspective to augment brand content for key campaign moments?

Amanda: Evergreen means they are always on, community page on our website, part of digital strategy overall. But also for key campaign. If you see one in key campaign, you can find more about them on our website. Remain authentic.

Jess: We work with brands that use content creators, fill gaps where we as the agency may not be developing content, we’re getting lots of content from influencers. We need an arsenal of content and they’re helping us do that. From campaign perspective, could help drive awareness. Evergreen or working with one across the board or very campaign specific for a need to round out full marketing mix.

Kerry: Top criteria, how to engage .... space getting more sophisticated. Fundamental question: do follower counts matter any more? 

Lauren: Paid dollars. Not focused on follower count. We know we’ll leverage paid media, appears in partnership with the brand. Can apply different targeting.

Jess: We tell our clients to forget follower count. If we’re thinking organic, we’re up against Facebook algorith. Some of these micro influencers can be so great for a niche audience. Working with photographer for a yogurt brand. For $800 we got incredible content. 

Kerry: If you verify followers are human beings, count is an indicator of influence. Overall, it’s a consideration but it is by no means have the weight it used to.

Jess: The upfront, exploratory phase is important. Making sure we audit them from the get-go. Looking at credibility, legitimacy, if there are any red flags, we raise them at the beginning.

Kerry: There are platforms that track acquisition patterns of influencers, will give you good indication. If you see a lot of engagement activity on a post four days after, likely it’s a bot. Next up: Negotiations. Important to discuss how we make sure influencer delivers what they promised. Quality of content is key. How to ensure?

Amanda: We need to do our homework in the upfront. There other branded content has same effort. Looking at engaged audience, is it asking quality questions about the product. And the influencer Is engaging with them. Difficult to have those conversations with influencers who aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Jess: Balancing act. Creative teams and clients as well. Comes down to process, making sure once influencer is hired, we have purposeful process in place. We make sure there’s a brief for the influencer, client signed off on brief, guidelines, but don’t give so much direction that feels like influencer is losing control of their content. 

Lauren: Make sure we have process in place, clear expectation settings via meetings, simple, concise briefs. Respectful of influencers content-creation process but matches to brand as well. Remembering to make sure content will do what it’s designed to do. 

Kerry: How do you track?

Amanda: Tiered structure of micro influencers to higher reach content creators. Benefit is blending both. Insured that we’re hitting our KPIs across each campaign.

Kerry: Important delicately work with influencers to adhere to process or schedule?

Jess: Because we work with them directly, we have more influence in making sure they’re doing what they should be doing when. Aligning that to whatever client is doing, augmenting the reach. As if that planning process is more important than the piece of content itself.

Kerry: Using tags to verify. Next up: Brand safety. 

Lauren: Our products are chemicals, regulated. So much work is done pre-campaign to get us in a safe place. From pre-launch, we deep dive channels of each influencer, do values match with ours, content pillars, how people react, we do keyword searches, how they talk about our category. Are they talking about competitors. Setting up clear brief and expectation. Set limitations. Plants are all over Instagram, we can’t use photos of bare hands in the dirt. Need to use gloves. Set up social listening monitors to track conversation. Post-campaign, make sure we can implement tracking to look at our owned data. Uses tags.

Video from this session will be available here tomorrow.

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