How Independent Agencies Can Help Brands Navigate Influencer Marketing

How Independent Agencies Can Help Brands Navigate Influencer Marketing

People consume media across more platforms and devices than ever. With their time stretched across multiple screens and endless content, it can be difficult for brands and marketers to capture and hold consumers’ attention. For some brands, using influencers has helped them create stronger connections with their target markets. However, the growing channel is not without its challenges.

As of January 2019, a study conducted by Mediakix cited fake engagement and low visibility as marketers’ top concerns. Moreover, the scope of the entire digital and mobile ecosystem can further obscure true signals from the noise. To make matters more challenging, walled gardens and cookie-less environments can make cross-platform metrics difficult, if not entirely elusive for some marketers.

For one agency, this harsh reality resulted in a step back from the virtual world of tweets, likes, and comments to more traditional PR practices such as tested messaging, credible media relations, and trained spokespersons. PRWeek reports that Australia-based boutique, The Atticism recently decided to halt work in social media in favor of traditional PR based on a lack of reliable metrics to demonstrate progress against client goals and objectives.

At Butler/Till, an agnostic approach to media vendor relationships gives brands and advertisers a valuable lens through which marketers can make measured, objective decisions for their paid media investments, including the use of influencers.

“Emerging channels such as influencer networks provide specific value for specific objectives,” said Scott Ensign, Butler/Till’s Vice President of Digital Media. “Navigating issues such as brand safety, fraud, transparency, and privacy are paramount when it comes to the industries our clients compete in and we approach each investment with these factors in mind.”

Ensign oversees a cross-functional team of Directors, Supervisors, Strategists, and Specialists who help Account teams align omnichannel tactical plans to business strategies. As best practice, Specialists maintain relationships with multiple vendors who are selected based on client-driven criteria.

Influencers fall within practice and typical client assignments as part of the media mix for product launches or brand campaigns.

“Our approach arms clients with specialized teams who make objective recommendations that prioritize business outcomes; influencer marketing is no exception,” said Ensign.

Butler/Till implements influencer marketing as part of integrated media campaigns that typically include other offline and online tactics such as video, audio, display, paid social, and paid search. In most instances, influencers complement broad-reach tactics such as paid social or video. This type of pairing helps augment upper-funnel brand awareness with mid-funnel engagement that can build influential gains for key metrics such as brand and purchase consideration.

Studies suggest Americans spend more than 10 hours a day on screen time. Among younger Americans ages 16-34, about 1 in 3 are social influencers. Among this hyper-connected cohort, more than 1.6 million have already partnered with a brand. Gen Z favors Snapchat and YouTube stars over traditional celebrities.

“These trends imply a new consumer expectation, especially with digital experiences becoming less distinguishable from the total customer experience,” said Ensign. “Brands new to influencers should proceed with caution, but they can no longer bury their heads in the sand if they’re to remain relevant and competitive.”

Tips to Overcome Leading Influencer Marketing Challenges

Fake Followers and Inauthentic Engagement:

  • Work with vendors trained to spot these types of accounts
  • Contract with vendors that weed out these accounts before they even get to advertisers
  • Ask vendors about available tools to try and spot concerning profiles

Social Algorithm Changes Make Content Less Visible:

  • Solution: We achieve visibility by choosing vendors that include a “boost” to influencer campaigns
  • How This Works: Vendors apply a boosted budget to influencers’ social posts to reach the campaign’s specific target audience
  • Results: Expand reach and engagement, often to those who did not see the posts already

Brand Safety and Brand Alignment:

  • All Butler/Till-approved vendors receive training on comment monitoring, including legal, medical, and regulatory review training
  • If needed, vendors will also comply with brand-specified guidelines
  • Butler/Till-managed influencer campaigns require a brief before kick-off to ensure total campaign alignment, including messaging and any unique brand needs

Keeping Up with Social Trends:

  • Butler/Till-approved vendors share regular updates on social trends to strengthen engagement
  • While past recommendations emphasized blogs, much of the current year focus encourages the use of Instagram posts complemented with “swipe-up” stories for deeper user engagement

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