Learning to Embrace “The Whole Influencer”
Embracing influencers for what they are can be tricky.
All at once they are the writers, directors, producers, editors, stars, publicists, and managers of their personal brand. They are the renaissance men and women of new media, and because of this, it can be difficult to determine how, as a traditional business, to engage with such an entity.
For some time the model has been to lean toward treating influencers like talent. Although this is understandable (what other pre-existing model is there for working with an individual who appears on camera?), ultimately the nature of this model yields stale, false content.
It also undervalues influencers’ abilities as storytellers. These do-it-yourself dynamos have cultivated a voice, a style, and an ability to tell great stories that has earned them the adoration, attention, and loyalty of their base. Why spoil such a precious resource by approaching these self-contained powerhouses with the tired pay-to-play mentality?
What if there was a different model brands could use when approaching influencers - one that is still familiar to brands but gives the influencer greater opportunity to collaborate and, ultimately, be more genuine in their promotion of a brand? What if influencers were treated like production partners instead of talent?
In Vol. 3 of Brand Storytelling: A Docu-Series, we spoke with ShayCarl, ScottDW, David Beebe, Pete Imwalle and others about the virtues of influencer marketing when that marketing employs influencers as creative partners. The collective message behind these insightful takes on the past, present, and future of influencer marketing is that influencers are individuals and media entities all at once.
Lean too far into treating them as individual talent and your shared content suffers from “#sponsored syndrome”. Treat them too much like a business and you neglect the single most unique quality of an influencer - the human element. Brands need to learn to embrace “the whole influencer” in order to achieve peak results.
For further ideas and observations from those who want to see the brand/influencer model change for the better, look no further than this op-ed in Adweek from Ryan Pitylak. It’s a great take on the split between the theory of what an organic brand/influencer relationship could be and the current reality, from someone who wants to see the reality mirror the theory.
Don’t let the title of this one fool you - nobody’s abandoning the idea of employing influencers here. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; it’s important to remember the meaning and value of influence, and that’s exactly what the six steps presented in this article are designed to do by way of improving influencer effectiveness and feedback.
There’s more than one path brands can take to establishing a real relationship with influencers, but the common denominator amongst them all is seeking to benefit from an influencer’s access to audience. But what about the ways in which influencers are seeking to benefit as creators? This is a great take on that very supposition, that highlights what kinds of things influencers are looking to get out of a partnership deal.
At the height of the influencer phenomenon, those with extended experience in the area have unique insight to offer on capitalizing on influencer relationships. Such is the case with Amy Callahan (CCO/Founder, Collective Bias), who, after 8 years of wrangling and working with influencers, has a thing or two to say on the subject that can benefit those looking to get the most out of their experiences with influencers.
A good influencer campaign means finding the right person or people to connect with your desired audience. GFMS has done just that by tapping blogging moms for their new online spots. Who better to vouch for on-the-go food than the moms who prepare it/ blog about it?
Now this is a great example of brands enhancing an influencer’s opportunities, improving their reach, and making a difference all at once. By partnering with Brooke and Bailey McKnight, Mattel, DC, and Warner Bros. are able to use the weight of their influence to affect change for children - most importantly, they did so with the McKnight sisters serving as their ambassadors, influencers with a massive following that are also very relatable to young people. This is the potential result of an optimal influencer partnership:
-- Watch for weekly news updates from Brand Storytelling in your inbox, and share this with other storytellers in your network. Of course, if you’d like to contribute to the story, We'd love to hear from you. Email us!