A Response To Peddling Influence
The Globe & Mail’s recent article goes out of its way to influence the conversation about the monetization of what originally was only relegated to organic, earned media: influencer marketing. As an agency that was the first in Canada to wholly commit to practicing and trademarking “influencing the influencers™,” it is refreshing to read Anya Georgijevic’s balanced perspective. There are many valid points and criticisms, including the fact that the pendulum has swung so far to the right in terms of a ‘pay to play’ for influencers that the bubble (just like the Toronto and Vancouver real estate market) will have to burst at some point…right?! An influencer who previously received $500 is now being paid in the thousands. But does paying (and paying more) ever guarantee that their post, photo or video is actually influencing someone’s mindset or purchase habits? Are we really so in need of instant ROI gratification as marketers that we accept the idea that short-term payment means long term gain? The rise of companies like Influicity, Fashion and Beauty Monitor, and #paid have made influence look easy. Turnkey. A proverbial sausage factory of sorts that scales content, much like Amway did by being the first to create a sales pyramid — aka — multi-level marketing. But as we all know, unless you are researched in who and what you choose (sausages included), the result is garbage in, garbage out.
It is not that there isn’t a role for programmatic platforms to play in your Influencer Marketing plans. But you need to start by choosing the few, most valued influencers that are genuinely interested in your brand or story, date before you marry (but put the time and effort into the romance), and work with agency partners that know how to strategically navigate a world that is changing faster than hairstyles and digital handsets. The ROI is indisputable. It is just good business. A recent PRNews statistic said that Influencer Marketing pays $6.50 for every dollar spent. Any marketer who questions this — as in the case of the ‘anonymous executive’ in the same Globe article — is frankly, obsolete. But how this ROI is achieved within the marketing mix and alongside other channels is really where the magic happens. Influence can be scaled with media dollars — but don’t confuse media buying with Influencer Marketing, or else you might as well just pool your marketing dollars and pay a bunch of random people with high social media numbers (that questionably were achieved through paid means) to create B-list content for you.
Interested in hearing the ROI of Influencer Marketing debate play out further? I am moderating a panel on this very topic at the upcoming Marketing Evolution Summit, featuring influencers and brand executives alike to discuss Beyond the BS: The True Value of Influencer Marketing. Join the discussion on September 21st. The Panel will be sharing views on Influencer Marketing dos and don’ts, and discussing the vision, process, budgets and tools that every CMO should understand as they navigate the new consumer landscape.
When you break it all down, it’s clear that when it comes to Influencer Marketing, one size fits all operators need not apply.
Have I influenced you?
Let me know @KristaVeritas or @VeritasComm