If asked to picture the archetypal social influencer, the default image that comes to mind would mostly likely be that of a young (20-something) individual, one who utterly comfortable speaking to the camera while sharing the minutiae of their lives and thoughts with millions of strangers – all of whom hang on their every word and consider this figure to be a role model, a friend. Young people are growing up in a radically different world from previous generations, theirs is a digitally connected ecosystem where the camera has become a constant.

The rise of the social media influencer is a broadly acknowledged phenomenon, yet despite its pervasive reach among young adult audiences, the habits that underpin these influencers are still essentially alien to older generations. It seems they are just not natural bedfellows.

Given their depth of experience, it is surprising that many senior marketers – and therefore often those with the greatest decision-making authority – fall into this pre-digital native category. While they are comfortable with the mechanics of how social channels work, they are disconnected from the thinking behind the creation.

Audiences are becoming more difficult to reach through traditional advertising methods, and despite 88% of marketers reporting success with influencer-led campaigns, a gulf exists between many marketers and this influencer-led world of digital solutions. Decision makers can lack confidence in navigating the admittedly complex landscape, and as a consequence, this valuable opportunity may be sidelined or farmed out to a junior team member who simply ‘gets digital.’ And that means losing the senior marketer’s expertise and strategic thinking about the project. The thing is, most influencers have a genuine connection to their audiences, they're not strangers - it's just a different kind of community. If senior teams can understand this, they can better bridge the gap between their go-to traditional marketing programmes and this new strand of communication.

As a maturing industry, we need to address these challenges that can cause brands to take a muddled approach to influencer campaigning. We need to help senior marketers understand what drives a social influencer to talk about a brand. How they can get insight into the psyche of a younger creator. And help them to understand the behind-the-scenes process of social influencer engagement.

For example, talent selection for a campaign is only part of the challenge. Equally important is having the systems and processes in place to ensure that the campaign is delivering on its objectives, and this will often require the participation of an experienced senior team member.

Too many brands will also focus on temporarily borrowing a social influencer's audience but then, either through poor execution or the selection of inappropriate influencers and strategies, fail to translate that initial engagement into advocacy – a KPI that may not occur to a fresh-faced junior team member, who is more focused on the campaign’s creative.

By understanding the fundamental shift in content consumption from traditional to influencer, and by managing the process closely from end to end, senior marketers stand to drive engagement of their brands with effective results.


By Kelvin Cery, senior director of client development & brand partnerships at Branded Entertainment Network

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at http://www.gdprsummit.london/

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