Originally published on Shots.net January 17, 2019

Will Leatherman, Head of Creative Strategy challenges Creative Magazine who suggested Influencer marketing isn’t a priority for brands, largely ‘because the creative standard of the work is poor’.

A perfectly valid opinion for a creative magazine. But one I would argue against.

As with any creative or artistic industry – from TV to ballet, there is an element of truth to this because there’s always going to be low-quality work. But as influencer marketing continues to grow, so does the creative standard for the content, and I believe this reputation – created in the very early days – is now totally outdated.

Here are a few suggestions for eliminating bad content.

Make a connection and tell a story

Influencer marketing is no different from other creative in this respect. You need to make a connection and create a narrative. The whole point is to tell a captivating story that the audience wants to enjoy, to create content – no matter what form that takes – that genuinely shares an idea with your audience, then drives a connection.

As we are all aware, many consumers don’t want to be talked to directly by brands but value the connection with influencers they have chosen to follow and look to for advice, so these consumers are sitting there fully engaged, waiting for content, so give them what they want.

Someone simply taking a picture of themselves holding a product is death for an influencer campaign, and thankfully something that is, itself, dying out.

Make it authentic

If it’s not authentic to the brand and the influencer, then it is fake. And when it’s fake, it’s crap.

Influencer marketing is a great way to humanise a brand. If you go back to Mad Men days, big corporations were telling you what to do. Social media gives brands the opportunity to have a personality, to speak to their audience. Good influencer marketing happens when the brand’s persona and the influencer share a common goal or message.

Work with the influencer collaboratively and form relationships

One of the main reasons for sub-standard work is that the clients and agencies involved don’t understand the importance of building long lasting relationships with influencers – or, even worse, don’t work collaboratively with them.

The best influencers (and there are a lot of them) are creative individuals who take their work seriously. They are collaborative, passionate and talented. So, you have to be the same.

“You can’t brief (influencers) and leave them – it’s not a one-night stand.”

And you have to respect, appreciate and nurture that talent.

You can’t brief them and leave them – it’s not a one-night stand. There are a lot of people who hear the buzzword of influencer marketing and go out, swipe right a load of times, meet a host of influencers, pay them to post a pic of their product then never call them back. The result is generally always the same – disappointing end product and a shallow, dirty feeling afterwards.

Start to see influencers as production companies – many of them are now

Some of the more successful influencers are now becoming their own production companies. As they take on more work and higher quality content is expected – they are outsourcing their creative and working more collaboratively with other creatives. Get in on this collaboration and work with them.

Don’t ignore emerging tech

Some creatives have a natural reaction when AI gets brought up to wince slightly, turn their mouth up a little and prep a sneer. And there is nothing wrong with this – creatives pride themselves on their ability to think non-linearly to create outside of the box ideas. You can’t recreate human inspiration, however, AI can really help with important creative choices. We are now getting to the stage where an algorithm will be able to tell you what bit of content will drive the best results.

Instead of fearing that tech will take your job, embrace the new technology and add it to your tool belt as resource to create the highest level of content you can.

…And finally

Take influencer marketing seriously. By 2020 it will be worth $20bn. It’s a proper medium now, whether people like it or not.

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