With the word “influencer” becoming the most overused word by many communications professionals and influencer marketing strategies being deployed left-right-and-centre, we are now experiencing an overcrowding on digital platforms, lazy content, and disingenuous partnerships. Perhaps it’s time to ‘deconstruct’ the notion of ‘influencing’. “From the native’s point of view” will explore effective tactics to achieve socially disruptive and culturally valued influencer partnerships from an anthropological perspective. The tactics will focus on how to strive for, and achieve, credible partnerships and substantial business outcomes, leading to awareness, brand reinforcement, and cultural existence. Influencer marketing has become a new media channel to sell a product.
As an Anthropology graduate, I’ve always applied anthropological approaches to influencer marketing strategies and partnerships I work on. Whilst we’re not studying cultures too far from our own, we are studying people. With many influencers being deemed as their own brand, I advocate that we should begin to grasp and understand their values, beliefs, and world before using their platform to push a product
The question I always get asked by clients, colleagues, and brands when presenting or discussing influencers is, “so how do you know these people?” The most honest and frank answer is, I soak myself into the world that I’m trying to influence. This is shortly followed by, “so how do you do it”, where I explain that credibility is everything and in the world of influencer marketing that means immersing yourself in their world.
“Authenticity” has become a buzzword amongst marketers. Whilst I agree authenticity is important, marketeers don’t break down the components which determine a truly authentic partnership. Centred around authenticity is credibility - credibility of the marketer to ensure that, in the world of ultra-connection, we understand the world of the influencer in order to achieve equal understanding.
There are many articles appearing daily about celebrities and bloggers being paid a lot of money for posts on their social channels, and how consumers are becoming less trusting of what is posted on social channels, yet there are few articles about what we, as marketing professionals, should do in the midst of this all.
Firstly, studying and soaking yourself up in the world of your influencer is just as important as PR professionals reading the papers everyday or researching your client. Many of us write decks and assume our influencer sits in a particular world, or that they attend a certain type of event. Many influencers have strived to create and craft an identity and personal brand in order to develop a cult following. As marketers alongside them, immersing ourselves in their world, we should share their values and regard them as a brand that will lead to further insights surrounding their audience. Influencer collective Bossy LDN, who can arguably be seen as the black book to the movers and shakers in London, have commented on shared values:
“From our experience, we've found that working closely with influencers and brands, who really know our goals and values, always produces the best and most productive outcome! We want to do our best for each other, so building that relationship is extremely important!"
Secondly, the surroundings of the influencer are equally as important to studying the influencer. As marketing professionals, we are employed by brands to be in-the-know and keep our finger on the industry pulse. We are all savvy enough to determine particular surroundings where our influencer may sit, but unless we really observe, can we really advise our client that a particular influencer will communicate a message and value to a certain audience that we’ve never previously connected with. It’s important to attend events, places, and cultural activities that sit within the world of your influencers. For example, if you’re interested in targeting female directors and producing events, attending networking events such as influencer collective, GIF (Girl’s In Film) can provide you with a deeper understanding than googling “100 top London film influencers.” Learning what influences influencers is vital to collaborative partnerships and working.
Thirdly, offline relationships are important. With consumers become less trusting of social media partnerships, it’s important to ensure your partnership is authentic both offline and online. Doing this enables a mutually beneficial partnership with aligned brand values, creativity, and fresh ideas. If an offline partnership between the marketer and influencer is genuine, then it can lead to stimulating truly authentic content.
With consumers becoming smarter and affinity becoming harder to achieve, investment in these offline relationships is becoming increasingly important. As marketing professionals, we act on behalf of the brand, collaborating with influencers to achieve holistic relationships between the brand, influencer, and consumer. As agencies increasingly realise the need to have employees who act as this fence between brands and their relevant influencers, the number of influencer executives and marketers continues to rise. By living in the world of the influencer and their audience, we can become part of that target demographic, helping us to determine what’s next in achieving genuine content that our client’s brands strive for - It’s always great to be ahead of the game!