How To... Upgrade an Influencer

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Sergio Lopez, chief production officer at McCann World Group EMEA, has six tips for savvy advertisers.

There’s no denying influencers are everywhere. You can see them at dusk jogging in the park, at clubs in Ibiza, atop the Eiffel Tower and as a production agency… in every client brief.

We’re witnessing a time where people have fake news fatigue. They’re done with empty promises and with celebrities selling their souls to brands. With the 90s and Noughties glorifying celebrities, it came as no surprise that people began trying so hard to emulate their idols - searching for a glimpse of attainable and aspirational truth.

"An influencer is a celebrity, a brand, a publisher and a media channel all rolled into one."

Then adland stepped in with the brilliant idea to replace actors with the new celebrity - influencers. Most brands were happy to use influencers in their campaigns, but they failed to consider that influencers were ‘real people’, and did not change the format, the engagement or the creative. They just thought: “Let’s get people that tell the truth and have them read scripts!” Brands that went down that road actually deadened their chances of truly engaging with the consumer and managed to take down the influencer along the way.

So this begs the question: How does one work with influencers (well)?

First things first. You need to understand that an influencer is more than a person. They are a celebrity, a brand, a publisher and a media channel all rolled into one. With that in mind, here are six things to keep in mind when working with influencers:

1. Do not boil the ocean

Have a clear brand objective. Do you want to raise awareness? Do you want to convert to purchase? Do you want to re-build your reputation? Once that’s been decided, then identify the right influencer for you, the one that can tell your narrative and tell it well. And above all else - avoid trying to do everything at once.

2. Write cheques for your bank account and not your ego

The great thing about influencers is that they have an existing community of people that they engage with on a regular basis and foster relationships of trust. Influencers can give you a return on investment of more than 700% if chosen carefully. Don’t go for the biggest name or the person with the biggest following. Go for the influencer that your target audience will follow. A nano-influencer that has built their brand around tennis will most likely drive a bigger audience to buy tennis rackets than a celebrity whose passion lies with music.

3. Merge two brands in a natural way

Look at what we did with Xbox’s Franchise Model campaign [above]. We merged influencers with games based on their passions and interests (eg racing and forza). That way it became easy for the influencers to talk about how and why they designed their said game controller. It also felt like a seamless partnership and process. It’s not about product placement anymore - it has transitioned to product embracement.

4. Co-create

Followers know their influencers inside out and can smell scripted bull from miles away. You need to look at the influencer as another creative and together come up with an idea that can be expressed naturally. The format, the word, the visuals all need to be familiar and feel genuine to the influencer’s followers.

5. Co-produce

Help influencers bring their ideas to life. There are both micro and nano-influencers with great ideas, but they may have struggled to bring them to life due to lack of experience or resources. By supporting influencers’ ideas and sharing their assets such as photos and videos the benefits are two-fold.

6. It’s not a one night stand; it’s a relationship

Using influencers just to replace actors in a one-off spot is a wasted opportunity. Since influencers are embracing the brand, have them share their experience with the brand over time and gather intel from their followers that you won’t get from even the best focus group. Test, listen, measure and learn…

Influencers might not be the golden chalice to every brief, but they can be the glue that binds people to brands who truly care about their consumers. Influencers are storytellers and given the chance to go beyond the selfie, they will help brands play that engaging and meaningful role in people’s lives.

Article first published on shots.


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