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.


Influencer Marketing: An Opportunity Slipping Through Our Fingers

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.


Why it’s time to say goodbye to the ‘r’ in influencer