In a sense, influencer marketing has been here for as long as advertising has. Just ask the ancient Greeks. In previous times, the art of influence was practiced by important, recognizable personages promoting a specific product, service, or political stance. Typically, their message was part of a brand pitch featured in a periodical, billboard, television commercial, or other outlet. Celebrities such as sports figures and performers usually got pegged for the job.
In the contemporary world, the influencer’s role has noticeably expanded. Yes, celebrity pitches still fly out of traditional channels such as TV. But many influencers also are hovering in digital space, backing brands via social media and other online channels.
This, however, isn’t the only change in the order of the universe. Nowadays, a refreshing autonomy also distinguishes digital influencers from their predecessors. Instead of getting bundled into a TV commercial or other advertisement, these influencers are acting on their own – most notably transmitting the good word via personal social media and online videos. There is a certain integrity to this autonomous, self-directed messaging. When one is free to act independently, one’s message appears to have a greater ring of truth.
Understandably, these influencers value their freedom and independence; in fact, these are preconditions for accepting the brand promoter role. Therefore, if you’re fortunate enough to count an influencer among your allies, respect their preferences. Basically, brands shouldn’t try to influence the influencers. Ignoring this golden rule of digital promotion will drive an impenetrable wedge between brand and promoter.
Admittedly, brands might have difficulty following this rule. Years of guiding promotions and campaigns have put them firmly in the driver’s seat – particularly when footing the bill.
In the case of digital influencers, however, it’s best to leave the seat. Many of these important people are acclaimed leaders in their chosen field, especially those covering B2B territory. They’re used to making decisions and brewing their own creative concoctions. Let them. It’s tempting to intervene, especially when funding the cause. But if you really want brand and funds to go far, allow the experts to do it their way. Hands off is the best possible policy.
If you have any questions or comments about influencer marketing, or about any other brand-related topic, feel free to send them our way.