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Creators, Distributors, Narrators: An Influencer Marketing Model That Builds Lasting Relationships

by Davitha Ghiassi, EVP of Social & Integration, Red Havas

It is no secret that in today’s society, influence is the new affluence. Over the past few years, influencer marketing has morphed from a mysterious mechanism into a method for the masses. But the meaning of “influence” has become blurry in the process.

I like to think of influence as an exchange of not just value, but values. Forget micro and macro types—e.g., number of followers. The most powerful influencer relation programs look beyond reach and engagement and play different types of influencers to their strengths by identifying their primary purpose up front. Most important, based on the portrayal of a mutually beneficial brand image, a strong influencer programs help brands form lasting relationships with their audience through shared values, experiences and stories.

The most powerful influencer relation programs look beyond reach and engagement and play different types of influencers to their strengths by identifying their primary purpose up front.

So if one should look beyond relevance and reach when selecting an influencer, where should we be looking? At Red Havas, the influencer marketing model and method we’ve assembled for our clients introduces three types of influencers whom we call Creators, Distributors and Narrators.

What’s the difference between the influencer types? And why does a brand need all three to tell its story?

Creators: bonafide content creators

Creators are influencers who may or may not have a digital/social following within a brand’s target groups, but they are primarily engaged to co-create authentic and meaningful content in local regions or around key campaigns/events. You’ll work with Creators not because they offer mass reach or niche engagement, but because they will create and curate creative assets more efficiently and effectively than branded content that was captured bespoke.

The primary value exchange in working with Creators is quality content. They are bona fide creatives with the ability to capture a brand’s ethos and experience in an authentic and relatable manner. In certain instances, these individuals may also reach a brand’s relevant audience—however, that is not the primary purpose of a partnership with this type of influencer. In most cases, the content captured by Creators can be published across a brand’s own social and/or media channels.

Distributors: individuals who are brands in their own right

Distributors are influencers who have built of a level of digital or social celebrity—they aren’t likely to be recognized on the street though—and are able to drive strong engagement among an audience you want to reach. Micro or macro, mommy or beauty, their active presence in a brand’s audiences’ online existence is what makes them powerful ongoing partners as they take on the role of mini or mass brand ambassadors.

The primary value exchange in working with Distributors is relevant reach. They are influencers with a meaningful social or online media presence who, through their community of engaged fans, are able to access a brand’s target audience in relatable, timely and contextually relevant ways through themed or serialized stories. In certain instances, Distributors may also possess the power to create high-quality content—however, this is not the primary purpose of the partnership.

Narrators: people with fame or media appeal

Narrators are influencers who, believe it or not, may have little to no social media presence but can be activated as part of public relations efforts across channels (including more traditional media—i.e., TV and print).Borrowing their media landscape credibility, brands will leverage these personalities to put a face or name to their own content and campaigns. Narrators will help shape the story—but it’s the brand that spreads it.

The primary value exchange in working with Narrators is their media appeal. They are ambassador-style individuals who have a presence and appeal outside of or beyond the social/online space. They are individuals who can be leveraged to successfully generate interest and intrigue among relevant media and mass audience segments surrounding branded storylines or experiences.

Regardless of whether the influencer being partnered with is a Creator, Narrator or Distributor, each individual should be equipped with brand guidelines around outreach and engagement.

And the success of each partnership and activation must be assessed with clear key performance indicators (KPIs) that evaluate whether the influencer delivered on a brand’s positioning and platform with authenticity, showcased shared values and generated incremental value.

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