Laura is an Account Manager working across several FMCG brands in Edelman, including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Energy, smartwater, Fanta, Honest Organic, fuzetea and Danone. With experience in influencer marketing for several successful campaigns throughout the year, Laura reflects on 2019 below, sharing her learnings and insights on the subject for 2020.

Our team works regularly with influencers across numerous clients and more recently we are seeing influencers and their role seep into not just brand focused campaigns but also be the subject of conversation for corporate and health clients. Influencer marketing has incredible potential, if it is done right. Below are some key learnings from our experience with influencers in 2019.

More and more so we have moved to influencer led campaigns on many of our projects, of course this is largely attributed to the target audiences of the brands we work with, understanding their needs and wants more deeply and the role of earned media versus social content for each burst of activity. Our use of and approach to influencer marketing is constantly growing and adapting as we implement our plans and learn from our experiences.

In order for our clients to understand influencer marketing and trust our recommendations, we have recognised the need to be confident in our own ability to deliver the correct kind of people for the job, understanding influencer behaviour and trends not only in Ireland but worldwide, as well as having consideration for what the required result is from the client’s perspective. What does success look like for them? Is it engagement? Reach? Great content creation? Establishing a good long-term relationship with an influential brand fan? This confidence has come with time, trial and error and, of course, trying our best to educate ourselves in a field that there are no real guidelines.

It is very easy to attribute an influencers’ reach to success; however, this will not always help achieve the best business results for the client. There is a delicate balancing act in influencer marketing. You need to balance the benefits gained from working with somebody who has a large following against how much those people their followers take notice of recommendations made by that person. There is a constant debate around how influential the proposed influencer is for the job we are trying to do – and so there should be. Some of the best results we have achieved have been from ‘micro influencers’ – people who may not have 100K followers but are credible in an area that is relatable for the campaign platform and brand in question, whether that’s a jewellery designer, photographer, entrepreneur or illustrator – having substance behind reach will always add credibility along with influence.  

KPI’s and the measurement of influencer campaigns is something we are continuously working on. The landscape is ever changing with the dreaded Instagram ‘algorithm’, our target audiences needs and wants from the accounts they are following, fake accounts and followers and Instagram ‘likes’ being removed. In the past we have been guilty of thinking of content marketing, influencer marketing, and social media marketing as separate, this is no longer the case. Our most successful campaigns in 2019 have been those where we have brought our influencers through the line with all activity, acknowledging the benefits of building longer-term relationships with them across our brands. Including our influencers in localised social assets that we have created, giving them leverage to create content and videos true to their own tone of voice, involving them in events and having a tight briefing process has allowed us to identify the ways of working required to get the best possible results.

A recent learning is around content creation. When partnering with an influencer, we listen to their recommendations on identifying the best way to reach their audience along with trusting what kind of content gets the best engagement on their channels. Working alongside the influencer to create clever content, rather than dictating and thinking we always know best, creates a better relationship as well as results. We could be working with numerous influencers for one campaign, but the expected content delivery can vary across stories, static posts, Instagram live and Instagram TV.  

Trust in the influencer space is something that will always be a topic of conversation. With Ireland having smaller pool of influencers than other countries we are tasked with ensuring the partnerships that are made for our brands are authentic – not just from the brand’s point of view, but also the influencers. Identifying organic brand fans and subsequently working with them for campaigns has allowed us to create content that feels natural for the audience which leads to strong engagement. Our brands may not always get direct backlash from the public, but our influencers are under a huge amount of scrutiny. We work with our influencers to make sure all promotional comms are clearly marked as an #AD or #SP and follow all ASAI guidelines – this responsibility lies with us.  Monitoring the influencer landscape is a part of our daily routine whether we are live with a campaign or not. Competitor activity and examples of partnerships done right or wrong allows us to learn from other people’s mistakes as well as their successes.

For 2020, I believe we're going to continue to see a lot of new opportunities in the business of partnering with influential online creators. There are many differing opinions out there - but influencers aren’t going to disappear anytime soon.