The Chartered Institute of Marketing brought together brands and creatives to discuss the rapid growth of influencer marketing, how this space is evolving and most importantly, what it takes to be successful.     

Ian Shepherd, President of the Business of Influencers led the presentation, exploring some of the common traps both brands and the influencers themselves can risk falling in to. 

Knowing Your Audience 

One of the reasons influencer marketing has soared in popularity in recent years is the fact that influencers know their audiences inside out.  Their voracious creative output far exceeds that of many of the biggest media publishers in the world since they're creating new content every-single day. They know what time their audience is most engaged, and they know how to serve this up in the most fresh and authentic way. Child influencer stars such as Tiana, the 10 year old YouTube sensation behind ToysAndMe, create a following of over 9 million subscribers by tapping into the things that appeal to them specifically. No-one knows their audiences like they do. 

Fostering creativity doesn't mean relinquishing control 

Despite influencers being the authority when it comes to their online audiences, brands often hinder them from putting their best foot forward when promoting products. The best sponsored posts are those where the influencer is free to put their creative stamp on it - the worst however, are easy to spot as they're often littered with corporate speak and sit awkwardly next to their surrounding posts. And here lies one of the biggest bones of contention for influencer marketing. If brands want to really reap the benefits of these large digital networks, a degree of creativity must be granted to the influencer. If infleuncers are instead tied up in brand guidelines and jargon, their impact will be stilted. 

Striking a balance 

But how can brands ensure their key values and identity remain in tact, whilst also allowing influencers to do what they do best?  There are certain examples we can look to that demonstrate both parties can be satisfied.  Part of the reason the likes of Nike, Daniel Wellington and ASOS have been so successful is because they aren't afraid to let influencers work their magic. Whilst their briefs can be broad, the call to action is clear and simple.  And because  they're in it for the long haul, they build strong relationships, and trust with their influencers. Rather than relying on one-off campaigns to build up their followings, they stagger their influencer engagement throughout the year, meaning the effects of their efforts last much longer, and output is consistent. 

What success looks like

If marketers can find a happy medium - allowing influencers the freedom to use their products in innovative new ways, whilst maintaining the unique tone of voice and brand image their consumers have grown to love, they will no doubt succeed at expanding and retaining a loyal following.