I recently read a Fashionista article which presented a comprehensive review of the various influencer marketing platforms out there, some of which allow anyone to sign up and connect with brands, and others being more selective. The article concludes with the quote, “It feels safe to assume that as time goes on, it will only become easier for anyone to join in on the influencer economy. And depending on your perspective, that’s either an exciting and empowering, or very scary, prospect. Or both.”
A short time later, I was watching Disney Pixar’s “The Incredibles” with my kids and came to the scene when the bad guy, Syndrome, explains his master evil scheme. As the movie builds to the climax, Mr. Incredible accuses Syndrome of pretending to be a superhero (since all of his “powers” are technology-driven) and Syndrome responds: “Oh, I’m real. Real enough to defeat *you*! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I’ll give them heroics. I’ll give them the most spectacular heroics anyone’s ever seen! And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can be superheroes. *Everyone* can be super! And when everyone’s super…*no one* will be.”
On a completely innocent scale, this is what we are seeing happen now in the influencer space: technology is enabling anyone and everyone to declare herself or himself an “influencer.”
On the one hand, any of us can be an influencer in the most literal sense: co-workers, friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, and pets can influence our decisions and views all day long, whether it be in-person or online. On the other hand, in the realm of influencer marketing, brand marketers should be focusing on “creators” rather than just “influencers” – and if they’re going to use these two words synonymously – then no, not everyone can be an “influencer”.
Those creators utilized in influencer marketing campaigns are “special” because they are authentic, talented in specific areas, and carry authority on specific topics. It comes down to an individual who exudes creativity and innovation in their content creation – something you can’t fake, and can’t only come about because there is technology that enables you to be labeled as an “influencer.” The ability to position yourself and successfully resonate and build relationships with thousands, tens of thousands, even millions of people – that’s a talent.
This is why brands can’t solely pick “influencers” by their followings. Brands and creators alike need to harness reach, consumption, and engagement data to truly understand the influence that the creator has on their subject matter. Creators naturally produce content across a variety of areas because it’s an expression of themselves and their lives and, unsurprisingly, each piece of content they create will not have the same influence among their fans.
Finally, not only do the “influencers” need to be authentic creators, but brands looking to partner with them should focus on authentic relationships with these creators. Authenticity, both of a creator and a brand integration, is important to a successful partnership. It’s been written time and time again, but well worth reinforcing that brands should strive to build lasting relationships with creators rather than one-off campaigns that hurt the authenticity of both the brand and the creator.
Brands and creators, how do you approach partnerships for influencer marketing campaigns?
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Photo credit: Pixabay