Influencer Marketing Starts With a Content Strategy, Not Influencers

By ViacomCBS InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Influencer Marketing Starts With a Content Strategy, Not Influencers

When it comes to influencer marketing, the obvious concern for brands has always been finding the right creator.

Now, hundreds of technology companies have gained access to the same social data and open APIs. The shift has resulted in influencer matching services — those that connect campaign objectives to the best talent at every level of influence — not only being streamlined and easily searchable, but also more affordable.

This game-changer has leveled the playing field for many companies looking to tap into influencer marketing. More options for brands mean that they now can push those service providers to deliver more value.

As a result, the focus for marketers should now be on building scalable, premium content campaigns — shot by a crew and edited with thoughtful purpose — using a variety of highly influential creators who genuinely align with their brand's purpose.

The key to unlocking value in this scenario is reimagining premium content from a singular, high-production asset to a holistic strategy leveraged across platforms, including six-, 15-, and 30-second spots in linear television, with social, shopper, and experiential integrations playing supporting roles.

The evolution of influencer marketing is the growth of more working assets in branded influencer partnerships. This path also fuels a brand's targeted paid strategy, which is the foundation of guaranteed business results.

Setting up Creators to Succeed

To truly leverage creators and influencers to their fullest potential, brands and agencies must empower them as creative directors and provide the resources to build unique content packages.

This approach requires a greater investment in planning than unfiltered posts (those captured by the influencer on their phone with no production assistance), but building comprehensive, creator-driven campaigns drive more lift than "traditional" influencer marketing.

For advertisers, understanding how these different influencer assets can work together holistically across platforms will be one of the keys to increasing impact and optimizing campaigns.

It is no longer about buying the influencer's channel just for reach; the partnership is about defining the objectives and aligning together to craft a deep content strategy that authentically matches both creators and brands' goals and purposes.

Distribution Goes Beyond Influencer Channels

When it comes to paid distribution, social channels are a relatively small part of the campaign. Creative content that meets the brand's objectives should be distributed beyond the creator's social handles and across a variety of channels, including linear television, branded programming, and experiential activations.

With organic reach on social platforms dipping dramatically over the past couple of years, creators can only count on roughly 10 percent of their audience seeing their content organically. So, influencers should make a conscious effort throughout the creative process to ensure that branded content is both authentic and relatable to markets beyond their sphere of influence.

An example of these types of convergent influencer campaigns is Ben Simmons' partnership with Frosted Flakes, which involved a linear spot that aired during the Kids Choice Awards, as well as multiple related social posts — including Instagram stories that were captured during the shoot. The 360-degree approach to content creation and distribution, against the campaign objectives, delivered the ultimate success.

With influencer marketing asserting itself as an essential part of the marketing mix, destined to become a $10 billion market by 2020, it's imperative to realize that the industry has evolved far beyond traditional "influencer matching" and brand awareness campaigns to deliver meaningful measurement and business outcomes.

Marketers and brands shouldn't get hung up on finding influencer unicorns. Instead, they should focus on building amazing creative assets that work across all mediums. That's guaranteed success.

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