The Secrets of Influencer Storytelling Revealed

#AD #sponsored #paid #gifted – these hashtags populate our social channels day-in, day-out. Brands have recognised the power of influencer marketing – last year, the number of Instagram sponsored posts alone grew by 44 per cent.

However, as sponsored content increases, so does consumer scepticism. Brands and influencers are having to work harder to ensure their posts are genuine and engaging.  Earlier this month, we gathered some of the biggest names in influencer marketing to discuss how brands can forge authentic influencer partnerships while generating ‘thumbstopping’ content.

Leading consumer tech expert Tom Honeyands, AKA ‘@TheTechChap’ joined popular lifestyle influencer Stef Michalak (of parenting duo @TheMichalaks) and Chris Davis, head of brand partnerships at digital talent agency Gleam Futures, for a panel discussion led by our very own digital MD, Kinda Jackson.

And we’ve captured the secrets they revealed during the session…

Brands need to trust the experts

Be wary of stifling influencers’ creativity – when there are too many decision makers weighing in on a final piece of content, it’s rarely authentic, and the influencers’ audience can tell.

It’s the influencer’s job to balance making sponsored content brand friendly, while also ensuring it will be enjoyed by their own community. Stef Michalak ensures all his content has its own tone of voice, ‘”as long as I approach sponsored content in the same way as organic posts, and present it in a recognisable format, then my audience is receptive.”

Be transparent about the exchange

As rules around sponsored content become tighter, influencers have to be more open than ever before. While they used to seamlessly integrate a product into their content, they now have to approach things differently and clearly explain what’s happening. One tactic is positioning the brand ‘as a friend’ who’s reached out to them for specific reasons. However, Tom Honeyands will only ever consider publishing sponsored content if he can authentically integrate it into his videos – “I don’t want anyone cringing 30 seconds in,” he explained.

Partner with the right talent

As influencers can buy followers, their perceived ‘value’ shouldn’t be on reach alone. Brands2Life’s proprietary analysis framework assesses influencers’ authority, relevance and authenticity too, so brands can be sure they’re partnering a creative talent who will give them access to an appropriate and engaged audience.

Understand what success looks like

Don’t be misguided by reach and views. Engagement can be more important when determining the success of a piece of content. From a reporting perspective, it’s important to consider the purpose of the partnership. If it’s engagement the brand wants, they need to prioritise likes and comments as a measurement metric. Kinda Jackson, MD, Digital at Brands2Life equates influencer comments to press coverage, “comments are earned media – brands to earn audiences’ engagement.”

Brands should think ahead, on a longer-term basis

Influencers typically find the second half of the year busy, but interest from brands drops in January. This is indicative of how the industry still sees them as an afterthought – if there’s money left over, they’ll put it towards influencer talent. According to Kinda, the key to maximising influencer partnerships is bringing them into the marketing mix earlier, “they should be prioritised and supported with a clear strategy for ongoing activation – not just considered for a one-off post.”

It’s time to reconsider the word ‘influencer’

An ‘influencer’ has become a catch-all term, but it’s a spectrum from ‘creators’ who generate original content for their channels, to those who are capitalising on their new-found fame and audience to promote brands (i.e. Love Island contestants), to established celebrities who maximise their organic reach.

“In 2010, 15,000 people classified themselves as creators, now it’s 25 million. While that presents

a huge opportunity, we’re at the risk of losing true talent at the expense of homogenised content,” explained Chris Davis. As the market continues to mature, the dynamic will evolve, and we’ll stop referring to all these channels as influencers.

We’ll be hosting another influencer panel in September in London, so if you’d like to join our mailing list for details or would like to discuss your influencer challenges, get in touch!

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