How to Succeed with Influencers: A Brand Playbook

Influencer marketing firm Klear, which counted more than 2 million sponsored influencer posts on Instagram last year, says that number was up 39 percent over 2017. “Two years ago, around one in five marketers told us that digital influencers were among their top three sources of digital content, and that would only have grown since,” says Forrester Research analyst Ryan Skinner. Clorox reported $570 million in ad spending last year, and has its own influencer playbook for brands. “But we’ve had some brands this year, like Liquid-Plumr, where influencer work is the lion’s share of the budget.” There’s still confusion, however, about how best to work with and manage influencers. Influencer marketing is a team effort Only two or three years ago, PR departments and agencies tended to oversee brands’ influencer marketing strategies. Target has gone from working with more than 1,000 influencers via third-party firms to 100 when brought in-house, and says it now has more control and deeper relationships. These firms also can provide analytics to track results or scour influencer posts for trends that can be used to shape campaigns and products. Clorox has found influencer-developed content often outperforms brand ads created by traditional agencies on brand favorability and purchase-intent when the conventional brand ads score above average, says Kellis, often because it seems more authentic. Expand your idea of influencer content Influencers can do more than create content. And established players Unilever, L’Oral and Johnson & Johnson have turned to influencers to co-develop new brands or product lines in recent years.

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Influencer marketing, once a sideline for marketers, is now one of the fastest-growing segments of the industry, reshaping both the media and creative sides of the business in recent years.

Influencer marketing firm Klear, which counted more than 2 million sponsored influencer posts on Instagram last year, says that number was up 39 percent over 2017. Analytics firm Points North Group estimates marketers spent more than $1 billion in North America on influencers last year.

“Two years ago, around one in five marketers told us that digital influencers were among their top three sources of digital content, and that would only have grown since,” says Forrester Research analyst Ryan Skinner. Many brands “are increasing their budgets for influencer activations by as much as 50 percent year on year. … It’s [becoming an] important part of the toolbox.”

At Clorox Co., “there’s an expectation that every brand is doing some level of influencer work at a 10 percent level of their budgets,” says David Kellis, the company’s director of influencer marketing. Clorox reported $570 million in ad spending last year, and has its own influencer playbook for brands. “But we’ve had some brands this year, like Liquid-Plumr, where influencer work is the lion’s share of the budget.”

There’s still confusion, however, about how best to work with and manage influencers. To help, here’s our primer.

Influencer marketing is a team effort

Only two or three years ago, PR departments and agencies tended to oversee brands’ influencer marketing strategies. Now, such marketing is a big enough piece of the mix that general brand teams, creative agencies, media shops and shopper marketing experts all get involved. So while traditional ad agencies (rightly) see influencers moving onto their creative turf, many now have their own specialized influencer units.

Where should it be managed?

Some have brought management of influencer marketing largely or entirely in-house. Target has gone from working with more than 1,000 influencers via third-party firms to 100 when brought in-house, and says it now has more control and deeper relationships.

But marketers with more varied needs, such as those that pump out lots of content to support e-commerce listings on…

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