Influencer Marketing – To ‘Agency’ or ‘Not to agency’

28th November 2017
Author: Etienne Clergue
Posted in: Content tips & advice

To ‘Agency’ or ‘Not to agency’ is the question for your foray into Influencer marketing.

It’s no secret that the world of marketing has been somewhat flipped on its head in the last few years. What with the vast inbound advancements in social media, growing dominance of online content and ever-increasing desire of brands to be seen as approachable. Ad-blockers and user scepticism has meant have had to change and adapt faster than ever before.

There is one technique that has ridden this wave of change better than any other, and has found itself at the very top of the inbound marketing pile: influencer marketing.

Using influencers in your marketing strategy can often seem daunting and expensive, with no guarantee of success.

What we can learn from it, and how best it can be implemented for 2018.

What is an influencer?

Firstly, it is apt to clarify exactly what is meant by the term ‘influencer’. Many subtly different definitions are available, but to all intents and purposes, ‘influencer’ usually refers to an online persona with a large, engaged and active following.

This persona will most often have found success through social channels and/or blogging, but is essentially any individual who has the undivided attention of their audience, and can influence consumer behaviour. In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell discusses archetypes of people: mavens, connectors and salespeople. Influencers can one or all three. But they do all connect ideas and messages with a lot of people. This makes them attractive to brands to work with.

You may be thinking to yourself – ‘influencer marketing is nothing new’. And you’d be right to think so. The act of using highly regarded and influential individuals to endorse consumer goods and services has been around for centuries, most recognisably when popular celebrities feature in advertising campaigns. But something has changed recently that has sent shockwaves through the marketing world. This is, put simply, that the current influencers brands are able to work with are infinitely more humanised, approachable and accessible than ever before.

How have influencers come to be?

Most of the world’s top bloggers, vloggers and social stars are preaching to audiences that many magazines, TV channels and celebrities could only dream of (or used to). For example, Zoella (currently one of the world’s biggest YouTube stars) at the time of writing has over 12 million subscribers.

These new online superstars are essentially the content creators, researchers, publicists and editors of their own magazines or TV channels. And the fact that they operate largely alone or as small collectives is the root of their charm. In the oversaturated advertising market, consumers crave a more authentic voice, a more trustworthy voice, one they feel they know on a personal level and can interact with.

The benefits of influencer marketing

The interest in ‘Influencer marketing’ has been rising over time and 2018 will be no exception.

Influencer marketing search trends

Source: Google Trends

28% named influencer marketing as their fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method, in a study by PMYB (2017). And, the Influencer Marketing Hub asked 272 marketing managers what was their fastest growing online customer-acquisition method. Influencer marketing came first, with nearly twice as many respondents rating it ahead of second-placed organic search.

So, it seems that influencer marketing is not going anywhere for now. But how is it best implemented for 2018? This is an especially important question, as influencers are becoming more and more savvy about their value, causing the process of working with them to become increasingly commercialised. The key to finding the right influencers for your brand is knowing the audience you want to reach inside-out. This means that although it is tempting to only work with the largest and most prominent influencers, if their audiences do not align with yours, they won’t be an awful lot of real use.

You need a budget, time and people

It is also important to understand that, especially in 2018, influencer marketing needs a real budget behind it. When surveyed recently, a group of beauty bloggers were asked what they require as payment for working with a brand. 82% said they would require monetary reward, and that free products were simply not sufficient. Gone are the days when a blogger was willing to review a product they were sent for free. Prominent beauty blogger Jane Cunningham added further insight to this: “Some brands come to me and say straight away that they know they need to pay to work with me, and they will get a lot of input in the post I write. Other brands will say something along the lines of ‘we’ve chosen you as a lucky blogger to work with us’, and those emails get instantly deleted.”

It will come as no surprise that lack of budget is cited as one of the most common reasons for brands not investing in influencer marketing. But when implemented and monitored properly, the results from this type of marketing can be invaluable. In a bid to keep costs to a minimum, the vast majority of companies conduct the influencer marketing process in-house.

This undeniably avoids certain outgoings, and may allow a deeper insight into a brand’s target audience, it can ultimately be costly if mistakes or oversights are made. It can also be extremely time-consuming, particularly as most in-house teams claim to be searching for influencers manually.

Options on conducting your influencer marketing campaigns.

Use an agencyIn-house teams
Advantages:They bring experience, expertise and can manage the whole process for you.Inherently have more product/company knowledge and brand affinity.

More authority for custom deals and arrangements with influencers.

Disadvantages:£$€. Hiring agencies cost retainer or project fees on-top of your influencer’s disbursement budgets.Time & tools to find the right influencers, to make contact, negotiate, measure and make micro-payments.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro, or just beginning to dip your toe in its waters, there’s never been a better time to discover the true power of influencer marketing done right.

There is a growing number of platforms and marketplaces to ease the burden on agencies and in-house marketers alike. They will have a ready-made audience of active influencers ready to take on a project with other features to streamline the process. This a levelling move really benefits smaller agencies and in-house marketers.

About the author

Thanks to Adrian Land for sharing his advice and opinions in this post. Adrian is CEO & Founder of SESOME and Considerable Influence – an influencer marketing marketplace. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.