Practical considerations for identifying and working with an influencer: a deep dive into the creative process

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ROAST question the hype around influencer marketing and encourage brands to act more authentically.

“Would you really take sound advice from a basketball player?” was a question asked in Sennheiser‘s 2019 ad campaign designed to market their headphones. It was a tongue-in-cheek response to the Beats By Dre advertising campaigns that have used athletes extensively in the past to sell their headphones. It was a great line because it stuck with me but it also raised the point that is sometimes missed by marketers - how are you deciding whether the influencers you work with are right for your audience?

It might sound obvious but making sure you are getting your product in the hands of an influencer that talks to your target audience is important and yet rarely achieved. The ‘lifestyle’ influencers that emerged from YouTube and reality TV shows seem to promote anything, from clothes to electric toothbrushes, but is someone off Made In Chelsea the best person to give dental hygiene advice to the average person when their teeth look like they were installed by B&Q? But more importantly, do they actually talk to your audience?

Throwing money at big name influencers might work sometimes for brands when their product or service is quite broad, but they aren’t necessarily talking to your core audience.

One of our clients, InsureandGo, offers travel insurance for all types of holidays and destinations. This might seem like a broad service because everyone travels and so everyone needs travel insurance. Using influencers wouldn’t be an obvious tactic for this type of service. Insurance isn’t something you can Instagram, it’s intangible and only ever bought in conjunction with tangible things. Additionally, insurance is only used when something goes wrong, which means the noise around insurance brands is rife with negativity and cynicism.

An easy route would be to put the budget in the hands of a generic travel blogger with a few hundred thousand followers and subscribers and hope that InsureandGo will resonate with their audience. Instead we decided to take a step back and really look at who we were talking to. We used social listening and data about InsureandGo’s audience. Through this we uncovered the individuals who authentically gave positive brand recommendations. Over 90% of the positive recommendations were for travellers who wanted insurance to cover their activities and expensive equipment, such as underwater cameras, snowboards, surfboards and MacBooks, whilst abroad.

This ‘adventure audience’ spanned many different scenes, from sky divers to scuba divers and these micro influencers that existed in this space had their own cultures, ideas, and ways of doing things. We had found an audience within our audience but it didn’t make sense to talk about them in some sort of predetermined brand-filtered way and give them scripted taglines to use. Our aim was to be authentic and give the communities they belonged to something genuinely valuable to share and talk about.

Out of this, DiscoverInteresting.com was born. An unbranded platform for these influencers to tell their stories and share their experiences. Experiences they could only have with a specific type of travel insurance. We interviewed each influencer to find out what made them tick, co-created their stories, researched their communities, and designed bespoke distribution plans. Each plan consisted of a mixture of PR outreach, with supporting paid and organic social which targeted specific communities relevant to each story and influencer. This proved to be a sustainable strategy that has run for more than two years and helped to achieve YoY improvements across organic rankings, traffic and revenue. The platform not only spoke to the influencer’s current audience, but we reached a wider audience of people that aspired to get involved in the activities and lifestyle these influencers were actually living and needed travel insurance to live it.

Most importantly, the stories we told were relatable. Each influencer talked about the challenges and adversity they faced in their lives to get to where they are and everyone can relate to that on some level. It made the relationship between influencers and their community authentic.

My main takeaway from this is to look at your audience at a deeper level. There are always different conversations, wants and needs within the community you are trying to talk to, it’s about identifying what they are, which influencers are best placed to talk about them and how you work with them to get the most out of your campaign.

Rob Shaw, content campaign manager at ROAST.

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