Influencer marketing “has democratised the advertising industry just like Uber did with travel”, according to Edward East, founder and CEO of influencer marketing agency Billion Dollar Boy.
Brands can now choose to work with hundreds of different independent creatives around the world. And these people can produce a variety of content to distribute a brand message across social media platforms very competitively, East told the recent Millennial 20/20 conference in London.
His own agency has worked with brands like Armani Exchange, Unilever, Dollar Shave Club and Estée Lauder so he is well-placed to see what is happening in the world of influencer marketing; he highlighted four particular trends.
“Well-produced influencer content should be repurposed for traditional print and out-of-home marketing at a fraction of industry standard costs,” he stated. For example, Mulberry, the British luxury fashion brand, enlisted the services of the New York-based influencer Dylana Suarez to help launch its Amberley handbag range.
Armed with a budget of “thousands of pounds not hundreds of thousands of pounds”, the brand was able to create stylish video content that can be used on various channels, including TV.
Influencer marketing is also challenging traditional paid social. The cost per view of branded content on Instagram and Facebook is twice that of influencer-pushed content, East said. And with video content, consumers are much more likely to watch the whole video when it is from an influencer than coming directly from a brand.
East cited figures showing influencer content will be watched all the way through by 33.06% and 42.54% of viewers on Facebook and Instagram respectively, compared with 14.23% and 16.89% on these channels when it is pushed by brands.
Billion Dollar Boy works with Google Vision, which allows users to quickly tag and check photos featuring certain elements. This enables brands to understand which types of creatives are performing better – in terms of engagement – than others.
For example, on the Garnier brand channel, content featuring product performs better than content featuring people (0.89% engagement rate vs 0.74%). However it’s the opposite for L’Oréal Hair (people content yields a 0.62% engagement rate vs 0.42% for product only). The same tool allows UK retailer Sweaty Betty to see that its content which includes quotes always outperforms that which does not.
This information, East explained, can then be fed back to creatives so that they generate more assets which engage with the brand’s desired audience.
The tools can also be used to benchmark against competitors’ content and to benchmark against influencer-pushed messaging. With the latter, such data and insights may allow a brand to pursue an influencer-led marketing approach.
“Brands should look for more comprehensive reporting and measurement of ROI, beyond the standard metrics of reach and engagement,” East explained. “Detailed campaign reports should provide you with the necessary learnings to develop your strategy and justify your spend.”
Brands should be prepared to run fairly extensive background checks before agreeing to work with any influencers, East advised. Some brands have run into problems when their chosen influencer has made unwelcome comments in the past on their public social media accounts.
AI tools are available that help brands to check influencers social accounts for historic content that is perhaps egregious. This means influencers can be subjected to “rigorous background checks to avoid brand association with contentious posts”, said East. Any text in posts, tweets and descriptions can be checked against a database of potentially offensive words, while YouTube provides automatically generated captions that can be examined in the same way.
Influencer marketing is generally cost effective, particularly compared to traditional media, but East advised brand managers working with – or considering working with – influencers and their agencies should demand clear data and pricing. This sort of marketing is a “challenger approach” which lends itself to transparent pricing models, he noted; brands using influencers therefore know exactly what they are getting for their outlay.
Referring to a quote from Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, who said “We have a media supply that is murky at best and fraudulent at worst”, East added that “influencers have an opportunity in this space to be completely transparent with what they do”.
East also had savvy advice for those embarking on using influencers for the first time. As well as reiterating the need for background checks, he stressed the importance of looking at an influencer’s past content to ensure it’s a good fit for your brand and the need to brief any influencers – or agencies that represent them – with a solid creative idea that they must respond to before they actually create and post anything.