Intermarketing Agency has worked with influencers since last year and they've been refining their process ever since.
The Drum Network spoke with the agency's content and social media executive, Stephanie Douglas, and digital marketing executive, William Blackledge, to discuss the challenges facing influencer marketing, the importance of crafting great visual content and where the influence industry is headed.
When did Intermarketing first become aware of and/or involved in ‘influencer marketing’?
Stephanie Douglas: Our first fully-managed influencer marketing campaign came about in 2018 when adidas were in the process of launching their Solar Boost running shoe. We worked together with adidas to select people who were heavily involved in the running community, reached out to them to gauge their interest, and sent them the shoe to try out. We also invited the influencers along to an event with all sorts of activities and stalls allowing them to run on a track with the shoe and have their sweat analysed.
The great match up between influencer and product meant that we got more content than we bargained for – with the runners posting before, during and after the event with a genuine recommendation for the shoe and excitement around the event.
Since then, we have been developing our process in-house and selecting a tech partner to help us truly understand the background of influencer accounts. We partnered with Influencer DB back in February after meeting them at PI Live in London.
What are the key challenges to utilising influencer marketing successfully?
William Blackledge: I’d say the biggest challenge at the moment is authenticity. There are a few things that have contributed to this; Fyre Festival, users becoming tired of seeing overly-produced promotional content, and the issue with some accounts buying fake followers.
One of the key things that stood out to us with Influencer DB was that they allowed us to really understand an influencer’s audience – giving them an audience quality score which looks at aspects such as the followers’ level of activity, following habits, and location. We can also see each influencer’s growth rate which allows us to identify sudden and unexplained increases in following (usually the sign of followers being bought). When we see things like this, we just don’t work with them.
We’ve actually seen some shocking cases where over 50% of an influencer’s followers are suspected bots, but they’re working with really high-end brands. It seems it’s just not something everyone has the tech to look into yet…
Reports suggest that what we currently recognise as influencer marketing on Instagram (for example) is changing rapidly, so where does a brand new to influencer marketing make a start?
Douglas: Both authenticity and great content are key for our campaigns. A good way to start is to look into people who are already fans of the brand and have previously posted about them without being paid – or influencers who create content on very similar topics to the one you’re trying to promote. That way both the influencer and their following already care about the subject, and you’ll get the best results.
Great visual content is also incredibly important – and great content doesn’t necessarily mean polished. Real-life and authentic looking content has become more popular, which is a natural reaction to the fatigue caused by brands and influencers constantly posting perfect looking images. Users now recognise that these images aren’t true to life, and it’s refreshing to see an unedited snap or a make up free selfie every now and then. Chose influencers that create unique and creative content and give them the freedom to put their own spin on the work.
In your opinion, what influencers are currently doing a great job at influencer marketing and why?
Douglas: Mamalina; This is someone who genuinely cares about a cause. Her audience get real value out of following her accounts as she gives practical advice and an authentic insight into her world. The content she creates on Instagram and YouTube is beautiful without being artificial or perfect. She’s the type of influencer who simply won’t consider promoting a product before trying it and loving it.
Using our tool we can see that 88% of her audience are female and 67% are based in the UK. We’d recommend her for UK based eco-friendly brands – especially if their products are targeted towards mums or families.
Blackledge:Rianne Skate; She is someone who has managed to hit the sweet spot where her content is aesthetically pleasing and inspiring, whilst still coming across as authentic and ‘true to life’. As a well-known skateboarder, she is partnered with several brands including Polar Skate and Lakai and this is a great example of how brands can effectively build relationships with influencers to turn them into ambassadors.
Through our tool we can see that she has a great ‘audience quality’ score, so she isn’t being followed by many bots. With a 65.8% Male following, and 32.4% of her audience being aged 18-24, we’d suggest that she’s perfect for the streetwear and skate clothing brands that she actively endorses.
Can you provide any examples of brands that have shown skill and good judgement in their influencer marketing strategy?
Douglas: The best example of brands that implement influencer marketing well are the ones that don’t focus too much on the short-term gain, but on the long-term vision. In general skate brands, such as Polar Skate who we mentioned previously, understand this extremely well. The skateboarding community is already a naturally supportive scene, and it’s very easy to tell when a brand is being authentic and actually cares about the community they’re trying to be a part of. These skate brands often send out equipment and clothing to the skaters they partner with, and some of them even put on massive events that contribute to the community on a far larger scale (such as the DIME Glory Challenge). By understanding what their community wants and needs, and by providing genuine support, these brands naturally gain the influencers that can be of a great benefit to them.
How do you predict influencer marketing will evolve in the short-term and long-term?
Blackledge: I think there will be a continued focus on authenticity and real-life content, which may lead us to focus largely on smaller micro/nano accounts rather than celebrity endorsements.
In addition to this, we may see some more changes in laws – advertising guidelines are quite new for this area of marketing but seemed to have had a positive effect so far. I’d be interested to see if guidelines start to state what you can and cannot promote on social, for example, slimming aids and diet tea type products get nothing but nasty backlash on social, and rightly so. I wonder if the next step will be to prevent influencers from posting about this type of product all together.