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.
The concept of macro, micro and nano influencers seemed to simplify the different types of influencers out there by categorizing them. However, it only categorized influencers based on their total followers—and accompanied engagement metrics. In my view, there is much more to assess a person’s influence on than just those metrics.
And with Instagram’s recent shift toward testing the removal of publicly visible Likes on users posts as part of an initial test in six countries, we are seeing this type of public value exchange shift further into the background.
I like to think of influence as an exchange of not just value, but values. The most powerful brand and influencer relationships look beyond reach and engagement and play different types of influencers to their individual strengths to achieve marketing objectives of multiple kinds. Most importantly, based on the portrayal of a mutually beneficial brand image, strong influencer programs help brands form lasting relationships with their audience through shared values, experiences and stories.
So to look beyond social reach and engagement when planning these partnerships, where should we start? At Red Havas, the influencer marketing model and method we’ve assembled for our clients introduces three types of influencers, whom we classify as Creators, Distributors and Narrators.
What’s the difference between the influencer types? And why does a brand benefit from leveraging 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 regardless of whether they do or don’t, their value exchange is creativity. These are individuals you engage to co-create quality, authentic and meaningful content that the brand, in turn, is able to leverage across their own channels and as part of campaigns. You’ll work with Creators not because they offer mass reach or niche engagement as such, 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 a real and relatable manner. In certain instances, these individuals may also reach a brand’s relevant audience—however, that is not the primary purpose of the partnership with this type of influencer.
Distributors: individuals who are brands in their own right
Distributors are influencers who have built a level of online equity—they may not be recognized by the general public on the street—but they hold a social celebrity-like status among the followers in the feed. These are individuals able to easily access and engage an audience that a brand wants 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 their relevant reach, affinity and engagement. They are influencers with a meaningful social or online media presence who, through their community of engaged followers, are able to attract 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 possess media appeal beyond the digital and social realm. They can be activated to extend a brand’s PR 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 public appeal and category credibility. They are ambassador-style individuals who have a presence and appeal outside of or beyond the social/online space, but can be cleverly activated by a brand within this 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.
What’s next for social media and influencer marketing? Read about the four themes that will see social through its formative years and shape its adult future.