Influencer marketing has become the cornerstone of many marketing campaigns. In 2016, we saw more and more networks created with the sole purpose of connecting brands to influencers – aka, people with a following.
Most of the influencer networks focused on one thing: finding people with big numbers who could be bought to spread a brand’s message.
This works sometimes, when the person is actually vetted for relevance and doesn’t shill a hundred other products through their social feeds, but more often than not, the influencer’s audience begins to drown out their voice because they’ve seen them tout brand after brand, product after product, creating an environment where the influencer’s online personality becomes synonymous with “sell out.”
Looking ahead to 2017, we’re going to see a shift in this relationship building.
True influencers, those who have a fiercely loyal following who really do value their recommendations, are having a harder time connecting with the brands they already know and love because their colleagues are buying their following and unless you’re willing to pay to play, you may as well sit back and enjoy the show. And, let’s be honest, competing in a popularity contest day after day is just exhausting.
Today, many influencer networks have been created to pad the pockets of the founder’s close friends while ignoring the fact that the brands weren’t getting the right people to share their message. Brands invested huge dollars with these companies, only to see mediocre results from their investment. This needs to shift.
Brands are also having a harder time justifying why they should work with influencers. The numbers appear to be there but the reach and impact is not (purchased followers just don’t engage the same way as a truly loyal audience does) so they are often left at the end of an often expensive campaign wondering where it all went wrong.
The long and the short of it is this: the way in which brands connect to influencers is a bit broken and unless we fix it, it’s going to disappear altogether… filed away under “marketing ideas that just didn’t work out.”
Influencers are important to the marketing mix and brands can have massive success when the two are married together in a harmonious way but we can’t do that in the current landscape. It needs to pivot quickly.
Here’s how we think it’s going to change in 2017 and what we’re doing about it at When Brand Met Influencer.
Brands offer something incredible — a product or service that consumers care about. Influencers offer something incredible, too — passion for those products and services. We want to marry these two together so that the right people are talking about the right products in such a way that they are empowered and supported by the brand to do so.
It’s been done before and we can do it again.
TASSIMO, for example, was a pioneer when it came to influencer marketing.
Long before anyone else was doing it, they reached out to 500 people across Canada who were already sharing about coffee on their feeds. They identified the truly passionate individuals and they reached out to those people and offered them a free coffeemaker. Then, they provided certain influencers with brewers so that they could give them out to friends and family members who were also passionate about coffee.
It didn’t matter what their numbers were or if the people they gave them out to had large followings on social media. They simply chose 500 individuals to participate who made a huge impact.
Here’s how the campaign did:
- For 2010, following the campaign, brewer sales were up 114%, with 235,805 brewers sold, and this more than doubled 2009.
- Retailers sold out and Bosch (maker of the TASSIMO machines) couldn’t make the brewers fast enough to keep up with demand in Canada.
- In addition, T-DISC sales grew 66% — an increment of $13 million over 2009.
As a result of this TASSIMO became Canada’s favourite single serve brewing system, achieving a four point share increase. By year end, TASSIMO had a 53% share of market. (These stats were taken from this website here.)
It’s no surprise that they did so well during this campaign — they connected to the right people who shared the right message and had HUGE impact. This is what we want to do here at When Brand Met Influencer — we want to be the bridge between passionate individuals and brands that matter.
Where We Go From Here
To build a better influencer network and create opportunities for the truly influential, we need to break down what exists today and build it back up in a way that matters. The old model is truly dying and we need to revive it — with passionate people who want to talk about the things they love. Loudly and proudly.
Influencer marketing needs to be about finding the people who are already passionate about a subject, large following or not, and connecting them with the brands that want people just like them.
We need to be creating opportunities for these brands to further solidify the relationships they have with their best customers. And, everyone should have access to opportunities and not just the top 1% or those who have the means to buy their following.
To help make this possible, we need your help.
If you’re reading this post and also feel that the influencer network model could use a revival, share the post. Tell your friends to sign up for the network (it’s free) and register yourself. Following is not as important as having a passion for something so even if you only have 200 friends on Facebook, sign up and tell us your three passion areas.
We’re going to rebuild the influencer network model in a way in which everyone wins. Let’s make 2017 an incredible year for influencers, brands and the conversation that happens between them.
Also published on Medium.