The word influencer is enough to send shivers down our collective spines. It’s a term that’s somehow come to embody the very worst side of creators working with online media. It was a term Chris Davis, Head of Brand Partnerships at “influencer talent agency” Gleam Futures even called “sinister”. But what can’t be ignored is the effectiveness of the line of work. Brands are increasingly turning to influencers to promote their product, and it’s not like they’re short of choice. Social Blade reported 15,000 influencers or “creators” in 2010. Now, the figure is now closer to 25 million.
At the London EDITION hotel in Soho, integrated communications agency Brands2Life staged an event that promised to delve into the secrets of influencer storytelling for tech brands. Onstage, Brands2Life Managing Director of Digital & Social Kinda Jackson quizzed tech influencer Tom Honeyands, lifestyle influencer Stef Michalak and Davis on the parameters that are needed to effectively engage with influencers and not just end up with a heavily-liked Instagram post, a dent in your pocket, but very little else.
Working with influencers can be a bit of a gamble for brands. But all three panellists agreed that it’s something easily remedied by brands getting to know the influencer landscape more. “More problems come from the brands not understanding the space enough,” said Davis, who believed that was a disservice to the complexity of the marketplace. After all, most influencers have built communities around passionate followers and a bespoke following. To consider these as interchangeable is something brands do at their peril.
The panel did agree however that there was plenty of learning for both brands and creators to do. It’s a mutual learning process but something abetted by Brand2Life’s ARIA, the agency’s influencer tool. Standing for Authority, Relevance, Impact and Authenticity, ARIA has outlined the guiding principles for the brand-influencer relationship to better function. This way, brands go into working with influencers with their eyes open and intentions clear, something both parties could benefit from.