Advocacy not endorsement – the key to effective influencer marketing

Influencer marketing should be simple. It should be born from advocacy. Your brand has advocates. Find them and reward them for loving your brand. Use them as a mouth piece for your message. That’s the simple way it should work. But it’s a complex problem.

The idea that your brand is not what you say it is, but what other people say it is, is nothing new. And this has never been more true than in the digital age. As we become more and more immune to traditional advertising, we listen more to our peers when it comes to understanding a brand or a product’s value. This is where the power of the influencer comes in.

At Brilliant Noise, we practise a simple approach to influencer marketing for the brands we work with that’s based on being mutually beneficial for the influencer and the brand. Here’s some points from our thinking.

Be a friend to your influencers

The best influencer marketing partnerships are based on trust and loyalty. Anything your influencer produces for you holds more authority if it’s part of an ongoing stream of work rather than a one-off activity.

It’s important to understand what the motivation is for your influencers. Many influencers who are relevant and hold a lot of weight in their field want to be befriended not hired. This is especially true for B2B influencers, because sometimes their jobs mean they can’t take payment. However, this isn’t necessarily true for bigger, celebrity influencers. They’ll have a price list for activities that will be negotiated by their manager or agent.

Use grassroots influencers

Grassroots and niche influencers are often better than big names. Influencers who are highly relevant in their specific field have access to concentrated audiences, which makes it easier to target certain groups. And it’s often more effective (and cheaper) to work with a group of small influencers than one big one.

Do your research

There are lots of online tools you can use for discovering and analysing the suitability of influencers in your field, like TraackrBrandnew and Revfluence. Platforms like this can show you essential statistics about your influencer’s reach, relevance and resonance with their audience.

It’s always a good idea to do background sentiment analysis of your influencer’s work and social media posts. You want to make sure you’re investing in content created by someone who supports your values and hasn’t published anything in the past that will undermine the message you’re paying them to spread.

It’s easy to be impressed by the amount of followers someone has. But because of how easy it is to buy followers (often to boost the likelihood of being paid for influencer work), it’s good practice to check for fake followers as part of your research. You’ll want to make sure your message is being spread to an audience that is completely genuine and completely relevant for your brand. Free online tools like Twitter Audit will tell you the percentage of followers someone’s twitter handle has that are likely to be fake.

Endorsement is not influencer marketing

It’s best not to pay celebrities or very well-known influencers to support your brand or campaign for two reasons:

The first reason is that they’re often monetising their own personal brand and not truly being an advocate for you. Endorsement is a one-off shout out, not advocacy that works long term on mutually beneficial terms.

The second reason is that it might spike interest in your brand or product for a few days but it’s unlikely to have long term benefits. The value of influencer marketing lies in the authenticity of the partnership. If it’s endorsement, people can smell it a mile off and won’t be convinced. So you won’t get any long-term value from your efforts.

Have clear goals

Choosing someone to spread your message can be intuitive and should always feel like you’re a good match for each other. But it’s important that your influencer’s credentials match your goals and intentions so you deliver ROI.

If you want to improve your organic search rankings, an influencer who has a blog with a high number of unique visits and a strong following on social, could offer you link backs that will help you get the results you want. But if you want to build your social media following, working with someone who already has the audience that you want will be more effective.

Influencer marketing can help you gain or increase trust and awareness in your target audience. It can help you amplify your message, encourage action and persuade your audience. But when it’s done badly, it can make both parties look insincere and be bad for your brand’s reputation.

Contact us if you have influencer marketing goals. We’ll help you achieve them.