The Next Evolution of Influencer Marketing: Look Inward

By Douglas Simon,  CEO of influencer marketing firm D S Simon Media 

Doug SimonInfluencer Marketing is the story of 2017. But is there a smarter way to partner with influencers to grow your brand? According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust for business is 27% higher than trust for government and 21% higher than trust for media. NGOs are even more trusted. So, why are we risking our authenticity by putting our brand’s reputation in the hands of outside influencers?

We’ve seen many examples of how influencer marketing can go wrong. Take, for example, Disney’s alignment with YouTube megastar Pewdiepie. Earlier this year, reports surfaced of anti-Semitic content in Pewdiepie’s videos and Disney had to quickly distance themselves to protect its brand.

Bad behavior is not the only risk. Third-party influencers hired by brands as media spokespeople can be less familiar with the story and more prone to error and misstatements. During a partnership with Adidas last year, supermodel Naomi Campbell accidentally copied and pasted an entire email from the Adidas marketing team in the caption of an Instagram post that read: “Naomi, So nice to see you in good spirits!!! Could you put something like: Thanks to my friend @gary.aspden and all at adidas – loving these adidas 350 SPZL from the adidas Spezial range. @adidasoriginals” A lack of authenticity in influencer marketing is going to be a growing concern.

What’s Next? It’s time to flip the script on the traditional approach to influencer marketing. It’s time to turn your experts into influencers. Andy Polansky, CEO at Weber Shandwick noted “the strong link between corporate reputation and CEO engagement” in a recent press release. This approach builds long term value for your organization. This approach builds authenticity and trust.

Surprisingly, turning your experts into influencers also helps to earn media across platforms. The D S Simon Media Brand Video Communications Report (http://bit.ly/2mYB0tj) found your in-house experts outperform third-party spokespeople. In the report, 200 brand communicators were surveyed. 84% of them reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their own expert’s ability to earn media, more than double the level when using outside experts. PR agency people also found in-house experts outperformed outside spokespeople. This matches our internal results when clients feature in-house experts as spokespeople during Influencer Media Tours. Perhaps it’s time to remember the forgotten influencer inside your organization.

But do outside influencers still have a role? Yes. Instead of working with influencers as brand reps, we recommend partnering with them as media bringing your experts to their audiences without the risk.
Our influencer marketing division has these tips to get the best results:

· Treat third-party influencers like media instead of a brand rep to amplify your expert’s message without the risk
· Invite media and influencers to have a conversation with your leader via video that can be shared by all parties
· Create custom video content with your experts designed to be distributed by specific influencers
· Create video series where your experts interact with influencers
· Post video featuring your experts on your social media platforms that can be used as a tool to pitch the media and promote initiatives
· Remember you save money using an in-house expert. Use that to expand reach

In addition to helping earn media, there are other significant benefits to this approach. Check Point Software Technologies recently featured its Head of Products, Michael Shaulov for a recent campaign. “We are in the field, we are in the ecosystem day and night. When we talk about those topics we are way more credible then someone you might bring from outside because we can bring real examples that we’ve experienced, relevant information that we’ve captured from our customers. With the industry today, this goes way better than anything else,” said Shaulov. Nicole Hayes, an in-house spokesperson for Toys’R’Us said, “We truly value what we do in bringing our expert toy opinions and baby opinions to media so you get that inside look and that true expert opinion from us directly.”

Are you willing to change? As Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia says “marketers ruin everything.” As currently practiced, influencer marketing will see the law of diminishing returns take effect and greater organizational risk. As we go from the Kardashians to micro-influencers, what could go wrong?

If you value authenticity and trust, if you want to grow your organization, its time you turn your own experts and leaders into influencers.

Send questions or comments e-mail Doug at dougs@dssimonmedia.com.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at Lynn@Cynopsis.com.

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