With the creator economy continuing to boom every year, brands are increasingly recognising the reach of influencers and the impact they can have on campaign success. As a marketing and advertising channel, we have started to transition away from tapping popular celebrities and A-list personalities, to seek out content creators that have built successful profiles on social media thanks to their content and fanbase. The overarching question still remains: how do brands know which influencers to tap, and which trends should they get into?
To answer this and further explain the upcoming trends within the influencer marketing industry, industry leaders Ruben Ahmed, director of marketing for HP Australia & New Zealand; Isabel Falco, chief digital and marketing officer of L’Oréal Philippines; Jonathan Gerard, head of production of VaynerMedia Asia Pacific; and Aaron Brooks, co-founder and president of Vamp–recently sat down for a panel discussion as part of the What’s NEXT 2023: Influencer Marketing in APAC webinar–to talk about the trends and top tips for brands and agencies.
Influencers are typically considered to be ‘key opinion leaders’ (KOLs), an umbrella term frequently used in the marketing industry. However, it is worth noting that the term ‘KOL’ among present-day influencers is referenced in a much broader context. KOLs may still be most commonly associated with paid partnerships, but they are the creatives and content creators who also promote their work organically to their follower audiences.
This was a point L’Oreal Philippines’ chief digital officer Isabel Falco expressed, who said that influencer marketing has been a key objective for the company. She acknowledges the fact that with the booming creator economy, social media users are now looking at KOLs to learn more about brands and what they should try out next. KOLs have become an influential voice in helping brands retain loyalty.
“The balance has tipped – creators have the power, and they are not “beholden” to brands anymore. Therefore, brands need to attract, vs “demand from” our KOLs & creators; we need to give them a reason to want to partner with us,” she stated.
She also notes the fact there is a greater need for brands to team up with micro- and nano-influencers: those that don’t have the biggest number of followers, but have built a close community thanks to the content they share.
“We need more micros and nanos as well, especially as we see that the “lower” tiers typically have higher engagement rates, as they have a more dedicated following. For this level of scale, we definitely need the right agency partners to also operationalize,” she says.
This is a view supported by insights from VaynerMedia’s Jonathan Gerard, who notes that with the massive shift between influencers and brands nowadays, brands should stop asking influencers to make ads, but rather engage with them as content creator partners.
“They won’t stay and consume ads, so optimising for a 3-second view means you’re creating the wrong thing. Create the right thing and you’ll get much more attention. There is so much appetite for content and consumption is higher than ever,” he explained.
He also adds that brands need to also loosen the reins they put on creator partners and give them more creative freedom to execute the campaign, aside from the mandatory elements of a traditional ad campaign.
This was later reinforced by statements from HP’s Ruben Ahmed, who shared insights related to their recent campaign with local artist Mulga to produce original artwork to promote their Instant Ink subscription and printers. For him, they had a clear objective in combining KOLs and some growth marketing tactics in tandem, with some paid marketing to drive both organic and paid reach.
“Understanding the role of social for your brand is critical – understanding how your audience uses the particular social platform is the key to unlock engagement, because it shapes the direction in a very different way to just running your typical advertising on a social platform,” he said.
Ahmed also noted that brands need to ask themselves if they need an influencer to be able to create online reach, or if they need someone to help cut through by making a ‘splash’.
“Social is quick and short-lived, so we designed for this – lots of creative variations, combinations of videos, images, carousels, polls, competitions were put into a plan together with our media team and set up in the platform so that we could quickly pivot behind what was working or not,” he concluded.
Learn about other insights from the influencer marketing industry, including strategies for storytelling and raising awareness through social media campaigns, by checking out the full on-demand webinar here.