In a webinar, we explored how influencer marketing agencies can help brands support their influencer marketing strategies. Consulting with an influencer marketing agency can be particularly useful if your brand is a newcomer to the field or if you lack the manpower to plan and execute an influencer marketing strategy yourself.
To learn more, we sat down with Laura Pier, managing director of influencer marketing agency Social Match. She gave us some expert insight into how brands can best utilize marketing agencies, and offered some examples of how her agency has helped brands develop and execute successful influencer marketing plans.
WHAT INFLUENCER MARKETING AGENCIES OFFER
Brands approach influencer marketing agencies for different reasons and different types of agencies can offer different advantages.
Some brands want help finding influencers, while others need assistance with the planning and implementation of a campaign. Some brands need help building up their own social media channels. Agencies can help brands set up Instagram accounts and plan out which images, captions, and hashtags to use. An influencer marketing agency can also help a brand engage with influencers on social media by liking and commenting on their posts. This helps raise awareness and create a positive image of the brand.
“An interesting and challenging case, for example, was Babor,” Pier explained. “They struggled with finding influencers as their brand was often perceived as old-fashioned and didn’t appeal to a younger audience. So we had to find a way to change the perception of the brand and in the end, we succeeded.” Naturally, the change didn’t happen overnight– it took time and persistence. Still, Pier encourages brands not to be put off by this because the outcome is worth it. Today, Babor has collaborations with prestigious influencers like Caro Daur and Pamela Reif. “We are getting daily requests from influencers who really want to collaborate with Babor,” Pier told us.
In our conversation, Pier stressed the importance of transparency. Agencies should share with their clients what they are paying the influencer for the cooperation, for exampe. This builds trust and shows the brand that the agency is working in their interest, rather than the influencer’s.
“The whole business of influencer marketing appears to be really untransparent. That’s why we think it’s especially important that agencies are transparent. That way, we not only establish trust with our brands but also help them learn and understand how this whole business works.”
“Using data-driven platforms for finding influencers is absolutely necessary,” Pier said. Only by analyzing an influencer’s social media account in detail can an agency make sure that they find someone with the right target group. Since any brand’s long-term goal is to sell more products, the agency needs to make sure that an influencer’s audience is actually likely to buy the promoted product.
Agencies can also help brands build relationships with influencers. “The perfect opportunity for a brand to meet and mingle with influencers is at events. During our work with Huawei, we planned and organized an event where they presented a new version of their flagship phone. Since the phone had a great camera, we invited not only influencers and the brand but also professional photographers. The event went on for several days, with photography workshops, dinners and a lot of time in between to socialize. This event was a huge success. Huawei met, for example, top influencer Hannes Becker at the event, and they’ve since then worked together on many collaborations.”
WHAT NOT TO ASK AN INFLUENCER MARKETING AGENCY
There are a few questions that Pier is frequently asked that she thinks are the wrong way to think about engaging with an agency. She identified three questions that brands often asked and explained why these questions aren’t the right approach.
1. Which influencers do you have?
“We get this question quite often and I always answer that we don’t ‘have’ any influencers. But that really is an advantage for brands because we are not limiting ourselves to a certain pool of influencers. We look at all the influencers worldwide to find the perfect fit for a brand.”
2. Who are your biggest clients?
“Big clients are always a great way to showcase campaigns that an agency has done for them. But if an agency is only working with big clients, they might pay less attention to their smaller clients. Choosing an agency on the basis of which clients they have already worked with is therefore not very beneficial in my opinion. Agencies with smaller clients guarantee the brand much better service and more attention. It’s more important to connect with the people. Remember, these agencies will be representing the brand to influencers, so if you want to develop long-term relationships you should engage with people your influencers will actually enjoy working with.”
3. How many likes can you get us?
“It’s not always about likes! Of course, likes are important to engagement but comments should also be considered. Comments show a lot about the followers, for example if they are referring to the actual content an influencer posted or if they are only commenting with an emoji or word. Likes and followers coming from bought followers will not drive conversions. In addition, working with an influencer can give you many different results. You could, for example, use photos created during a campaign on your own website or on your social media channels.”
To sum up Pier’s tips for working with an influencer marketing agency, the first thing to look for is an agency that is transparent and includes the client in the process of finding the right influencers and creating and implementing an influencer campaign. Next, she stressed the importance of using data. Even if an influencer marketing agency has an extensive influencer network, it still must analyze an influencer’s audience to make sure it matches the brand’s needs. Brands should also take advantage of their agency’s network to build relationships with influencers. Influencers that a brand works with for one campaign may become reliable, long-term partners.
Before calling it a day, we asked Pier one last question: What’s your favorite campaign Social Match has created so far?
“The campaign that I will always remember is the Panama campaign we planned with Lufthansa. We started working on that in autumn 2016. Lufthansa wanted to promote their new destination: Panama.”
“The key element of this campaign was storytelling. We worked together with several great influencers from different verticals who traveled to Panama City and told their very own story of this journey. Photographer Hannes Becker, for example, took the followers with him to the jungle while fashion influencer Novalanalove posted pictures from the beach. That way we got very different impressions of Panama.”