Brand-Influencer Fit: An Influencer Strategy that Connects with Your Values

This post is an excerpt from our Authentic Marketing Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for brands and influencers to openly discuss tactics for authentically building a strong following. All of the content from the Authentic Marketing Conference is available as a Digital Marketing Bootcamp. Here are the experts who contributed to this blog:

Here are some key takeaways from the Brand-Influencer fit panel:

  • Trust is key
    As a brand, it is important to trust the influencers that you work with. Understanding your influencer’s personal brand and audience; and ensuring that aligns with your target customer is the first step in building brand-influencer trust.
     
    • The brand message doesn’t need to come from the brand
      Recently brands have shifted their content creation process to allow influencers to share the brand’s message in their own voice. When you allow influencers to have total control over the brand message you will find an increased connection between that message and your target audience.
       
      • Work with influencers who tangentially fit your brand
        Working with influencers who may not be a direct fit with your brand can open up your brand to new demographics. This is very beneficial for brands looking to target a new market.

      We are in an interesting time, where influencers are now having in some cases more reach than mainstream media outlets. One of the world’s most venerated news outlets, the New York Times, has about 30 million followers on Twitter. Influencer Kim Kardashian has 47 million. It’s an interesting time for influencers and influencer marketing. –Josh Levine, The Rebel Group (Moderator)

      Why are we here talking about fit? We don’t have that conversation with other types of media. Why is fit so important with influencers and influencer marketing?

      Fit is an interesting word because over the last two years, influencers have been treated like any other channel. This is coming to a quick end as we get more analytics from platforms and we start to understand how to work with them better. I think it is most relevant because if we don’t quickly shift to bringing influencers into the fold of the brand almost as guest creative directors, we start to run the risk of wasting time and effort on something that consumers sort of get, “Here try my product, take a picture and post it on your Instagram, here is a hashtag.” We are sort of ending that era and entering this time where influencers come in and actually create content without direction from the brand or agency so fit becomes very important, both personality and who the audience is. –Nick Kinports, Notice

      We are moving away from this one-and-done model where an influencer does one post and it’s over. It’s more about creating these ongoing collaborative relationships. –Jennifer DeAngelis

      Margo and Me is a well-known fashion and travel blogger that we have worked with over the years with Peninsula - a really high-end luxury travel brand. She was looking to travel the world and we were looking to have an influencer talk about our brand so we got in a room, we chatted about ways that we could authentically fit into her travel plans. We are moving away from this one-and-done model where an influencer does one post and it’s over. It’s more about creating these ongoing collaborative relationships. –Jennifer DeAngelis, Murphy O'Brien Public Relations

      One of the biggest changes in today’s society is that a brand’s message doesn’t have to come from the brand anymore. –Kyle Wong

      One of the biggest changes in today’s society is that a brand’s message doesn’t have to come from the brand anymore. When we think about these influencers, they are telling your brand’s story in a way that might be a little different from your brand, but in a way that might be more connected to how your customers are actually using your products if you find the right ones. In my opinion, the reason that fit is so important is because the influencer's expertise and their overall relationship with their fan base is such a big part of the “influence” and it isn’t always taken into consideration when choosing influencers to work with. –Kyle Wong, Pixlee

      What impact does it have if you go to dinner with an influencer for the brands that you are working with? How does building genuine relationships with your influencers make a difference?

      We focus on working with influencers who aren’t just trying to make a dime, who understand what their brand is, and can have an open dialogue with us where they will say, “That’s not a fit for me” or “That’s going to help me a lot.” We like working with people who are honest about who they are and what their brand is. –Jennifer DeAngelis, Murphy O'Brien Public Relations

      When I look at the brands that have some of the best influencer-brand relationships, at the core of a lot of these relationships is trust. Trust often comes with great fit, it comes with nice personal relationships, but trust is so important because when you are collaborating especially in a creative environment when these influencers are tremendous creative storytellers, you need to have that trust because there is going to be differences of opinion and while you do need to provide some structure, you also need to let that influencer tell that story in an authentic way that resonates with his or her audience. Without that trust, I see a lot of fighting, a lot of disagreements, a lot of issues associated with this content being produced. –Kyle Wong, Pixlee

      If you want someone to represent a product, find out if they have ever mentioned your product in their social ecosystem historically because it ties back to the authenticity piece. –Marissa Nance

      Sometimes it’s as simple as looking back historically and finding out if an influencer has ever spoken or mentioned your product. If you want someone to represent a product, find out if they have ever mentioned your product in their social ecosystem historically because it ties back to the authenticity piece. –Marissa Nance, OMD USA

      How do data analytics and metrics work with your influencer strategy?

      Every vendor that I have ever had come to us says, “Oh, we have great relationships, we have API visibility, we have everything that we need to dig into the data.” It’s just not true.

      I think the human aspect of building criteria before taking ideas to your client is super important, because the social media platforms themselves don’t like tools. Some of them work with them, some of them don’t. Every vendor that I have ever had come to us says, “Oh, we have great relationships, we have API visibility, we have everything that we need to dig into the data.” It’s just not true. Instagram doesn’t give away its data and it doesn’t let third-party companies view its data. You should know that because you really need to understand that there is no elegant way to do this and it has always paid us, many times over, to go in and do the time-intensive digging because it’s well worth it. –Nick Kinports, EVP Strategy, Notice

      We use social listening tools with our hotel brands so that we can see when influencers are coming to the hotel. We then ignited what was called a “Surprise and Delight” campaign where we would send them specialized amenities, discovered from stalking their Instagram page. A lot of times this opened the door for us to say, “We would love to invite you for a host experience” or something similar provided we saw an uptick in followers or traffic. –Jennifer DeAngelis, Murphy O'Brien Public Relations

      What are the tools and the processes that people should be using? What are some of the tactical tips to counter the complexity?

      Some tools can help identify influencers that are maybe not so obvious to your brand. A good example of this happens in the outdoor industry a lot of the influencers are incredible ski enthusiasts and pro skiers, but most of their audience does not fall into this small niche pro skier demographic. Their demographic is the everyday person like me who make up a lot of their business and quite frankly, can’t relate to the stories told by these really great impressive skiers. However, they can relate to the influencer who is talking about skiing as a great family trip, or a great way to connect with teammates.

      Brands get so caught up about finding a fit that is directly related to one brand, but sometimes there are these influencers in these other tangential areas that are actually very beneficial to helping brands attract a different market, but more importantly making your brand more accessible to a different demographic. –Kyle Wong, Pixlee

      Tactically, if you have your influencer strategy, and you know what you want to do, then the next step is figuring out how you can bring it to life. Looking at this from an elevated perspective, you should now have engaged with a lot of people who are influencers. You need to create a dialogue and figure out how you extend their reach and be beneficial to them so let’s not forget tactically we can look at the things that we do as well. –Marissa Nance, OMD USA