Why Influencers are Your Most Important Media Buy

Ricky Ray Butler during BEN's panel at 'Brand Storytelling 2018' in Park City, Utah

Influencer marketing has continued to evolve and grow entering into 2018. Even though brands have begun to fully embrace the tactic, many are only looking at it as a single item in their checklist and simply going through the motions, when instead it should be something that sits at the core of their businesses.

Influencers are not digital celebrities Part of the problem is that influencers are perceived as “today’s rock stars,” which may be great for an influencer’s ego, but these labels also do a great disservice to influencers because it causes brands to treat them less seriously. Picking the right influencers for your brand is not about shooting for the biggest and most popular name on Instagram, but rather, identifying a group of influencers that best fits with the brand’s goals and objectives and is most likely to drive sales.

Influencers are lead-generation channels that can market products in an authentic way for brands. They are the most in tune with their audiences and can create engaging content. They should not be treated as celebrities, but as a sales channel.

One-off projects just don’t work

Brands that choose to go down the micro-influencer route often fail to think about scale and reach. They choose the right influencers, but select so few of them that they don’t scratch the surface or the potential market opportunity.

There are probably about 5,000 influencers that might fit a brand’s needs at any given time that could get 50 million to 100 million organic views in 30 days. But brands need to take the time to plan right and put in enough budget.

Ongoing campaigns are also the most effective way to build ongoing relationships with creators and monitor for momentum over time. A brand can take the time to figure out what, and who is producing results and continue optimizing the campaign based off of the data collected.

Influencers are your most important media buy

Ultimately, brands need to avoid getting sucked into conversations about guaranteed views and engagement and start looking at influencers in the same way as media buys. Influencers are not a cheap commercial: They need proper research, a compelling creative collaboration, a clear activation strategy and proper measurement to capture tangible results. This is true even of awareness campaigns as they’re still fueling the funnel.

Influencer marketing is not going away any time soon. The brands that do it right will be the ones that build an infrastructure that supports sales measurement of influencer activity, both in online and in retail stores—something that can only benefit everyone in the influencer ecosystem.