Last month, research from WFA and MediaSense revealed that a quarter of brands feel their media agency model is “unfit for future needs” and that brands and agencies are “on a march to unlock much-needed capability, integration and speed”. In a similar way, Ben Jeffries, CEO of global influencer marketing business, Influencer, has been witnessing a notable increased demand for agility and efficiency within the influencer marketing industry.
“Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react, and reinvent”. Words from Bill Gates have never resonated quite as much as they did last week, when 92% of brands revealed speed and agility were their main requirements from partnering agencies, as ambitions to be future-facing are still met with inertia.
Clearly, there is an industry-wide need for speed across the advertising mix. But when it comes to influencer marketing, agility is not just a ‘nice to have’, it is a necessity. On social media, things can move very quickly, so if a marketer isn’t equipped to respond to an unexpected trend as and when the zeitgeist evolves, the opportunity can easily be lost.
And this isn’t something that can be slept on - we know that influencer marketing is incredibly valuable to brands, now a core part of the media plan, and no longer the after-thought it once was. Marketers are beginning to realise that the True Human Influence™ of creator content can guarantee real, actionable outcomes, far beyond the likes and impressions of traditional strategies. So how can they achieve the necessary agility to unlock its potential?
Programmatic with a (walking, talking) difference
Before answering this question, it is important to look at the nuances of influencer marketing, as compared to the wider advertising mix. People often compare influencer marketing directly to programmatic, but what they are missing is the obvious point that instead of an automatic ad, this strategy involves a walking, talking human - which is exactly the beauty of creator content and the True Human Influence™ it enables.
But the key difference when it comes to a human, is that processes are simply more time consuming - producing a draft relevant to the brand and brief, posting on time and interacting sufficiently with audiences require far more consideration. And this is especially true when you’re working on several campaigns with hundreds of creators.
It is also necessary to understand the evolution of the social media marketing landscape. We often get asked by CMOs if influencer marketing is a creative buy or a media buy - people tend to split these into two, but actually, it can be either or both. Though, what we are seeing is a shift towards influencer marketing as a ‘media buy’ - with growing pressures on budgets, there is more demand for campaigns that make a real impact and guarantee results, requiring less heavy lifting, with swift activation.
Human connection, powered by technology
As much as influencer marketing is about human connection, the role of technology is becoming increasingly important to achieve the necessary agility required for campaigns that make a real impact. But unlike programmatic, where everything can be automated, a more balanced approach is needed when it comes to influencer marketing, with custom technological solutions that allow for the needs of both the brands and creators.
At Influencer, we built our own platform, Waves, to centralise campaign management and speed up the approval process for creators, as well as to enable marketers to plan, activate and measure with more control, speed and transparency.
Trust enables speed
As well as looking to technology, marketers must place more trust in their agencies if they want to become truly agile. As an agency, only when you have strong relationships with your clients and creator networks, built on trust, experience and results, is there room to create quick turnaround campaigns with true value.
After launching Influencer Amplify, we witnessed first-hand the impact a strong relationship can have on campaign effectiveness. By trusting us with the heavy lifting and time consuming elements of campaigns (which are not so time consuming for us), brands and marketers gain back vital time and resources. This allows them to stay ahead of the curve, remain reactive and quickly respond to trends as and when they happen, when the momentum is at its peak. By working together in this way, clients can be confident that campaigns will deliver real results, reaping the benefits of timely True Human Influence™.
From an add-on to the centre-piece
Whilst traditionally, influencer marketing has been its own line item and budget, more and more, we are starting to see creators as a line under every element of the media plan - TV, out of home, audio and social media all have their own budgets for creators. It is no longer about “should we”, but about “how can we” - once considered an ‘add-on’, creator content is now the centre-piece of the marketing strategy.
So, what marketers must learn in order to truly harness the potential of creator content across their entire strategy, is how to fully embrace the existing relationships and innovations around them. We can’t deny that innovation is continually developing, just look at the creator economy where AI influencers are becoming more visible on our feeds every day. Only by embracing these changes and riding the wave, instead of fighting with it, will marketers level up and become equipped with true agility - the new must-have for marketers.
By Ben Jeffries