Commentary

How Brands are Wasting Their Influencer Marketing Budgets

Most brands understand the how and why of using influencers for organic awareness, and that’s great. Or is it? If they are simply getting influencers to create content and push it out organically to their followers, brands are leaving a tremendous amount of money on the table and squandering opportunities for much larger gains, basically only realizing a fraction of the value.

To get the most out of influencer marketing, we need to think of it in three steps:

-- Creation of content
-- Amplification of it
-- Impact on sales

Brands can take a strongly performing piece of influencer content and insert it into an ad unit, or put it on their website, and that content will outperform content that the brand creates for itself. Still, when brands just focus on awareness, they are not realizing the full value of that content and how it can impact sales. When these three steps are working together, there’s better engagement rate, dollars are more efficient, and brands achieve much higher ROI. 

Here are 2 critical tips to do this successfully:
  1. Negotiate rights to use the content. This can be done upfront or once you see the content is performing well. Things to consider when negotiating: how long you plan to use the content, and in what capacity (website, social, ad unit, etc.).
  2. Make it part of your media budget and push the content out. This can be done through the influencer’s handle (typically called "white listing"), which will be shown to a larger number of people. Then test it by comparing it to your control unit. Test it in paid social and programmatic.

Balancing the influencer’s understanding of audience with the brand’s objectives

 
Brands need to balance what the influencer knows her audience will respond to with the fulfillment of the brand’s ultimate objectives. The most successful influencers can articulate why the way they want to present the content to their audience will inspire the audience to action. That’s where the magic comes in. 
 

In one Fidelity example, influencer Camden Scott is in her backyard with her dog talking about the house she just bought, which speaks directly to many women’s aspirations. She connects with what the brand is trying to achieve, which resulted in a great collaboration.

The lesson here is, brands can intimately understand their product and the regulations they must follow, but they don’t know the influencer’s audience. Influencers need to come to the table with an understanding of a brand’s needs and how to portray it best to their followers so that they take action. 

Turning On the "Always On" Influencer Button

Brands are seeing greater value in using influencers on an ongoing basis (Always On) rather than for one-off campaigns. In a world where brands are looking for more and more content to satisfy their social media channels, media units, websites etc., you cannot overestimate the value of continual content creation that comes from this approach.
 
This can be even more effective when activating multiple influencers as part of the marketing mix, because they each have their own audience. Conversations generated on social work in tandem with topline efforts (such as other PR/marketing efforts) to inspire action. Creating a groundswell of conversation helps support the brand message and leads to the third part of value: the impact on sales. This strategy can take a brand from awareness to purchase in just one piece of content. 
 
Brands simply need to recognize the value in front of them. Awareness is great, but it’s the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Make influencer content work harder, and watch ROI soar.
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