Influencer Marketing: the path to brand advocacy

Author: Philip Brown
Date published: 26.04.2020

For the past decade, much of brands’ influencer marketing output has been to collaborate with influencers in order to obtain new audiences. 

When it comes to influencer marketing, it is clear that, as an industry, the baseline for the practice is mostly two-fold: awareness & engagement. Essentially this has been spurred on by the early advantage of talent agencies and platform solutions that have facilitated a pay-to-play content creation landscape.

There is a huge element of influencer marketing that is only sporadically utilised by niche agencies, and mostly neglected, or not even considered part of influencer marketing.

That’s existing influence. Influence derived from 1) your audience 2) your existing brand advocates and those that already purchase and like your brand.

I’ve become fascinated by the industry’s obsession to continuously acquire newcustomers, versus exploring and putting into place influencer marketing strategies to retain and leverage existing ones, as well as setting up a framework to nurture those newly acquired audiences.

Even influencers are becoming increasingly out of touch with their core followings. In the business of fashion article, we saw a talent agent advising influencers to reach out and ask what kind of content their followers would like to see. This advice that seems geared towards creators that have seemingly forgotten what their audiences like in the first place.

Now, I’m not advocating that those with the ability to drive impact go back to the days where influencers advertised brands free of charge simply to get on their radar. I’m advocating for more meaningful relationships that are built on the basis of a product-influencer relationship.

Glossier is always noted as an influencer-led inspiration. Every (new DTC) brand wishes to emulate that success. For most, that means leaning on influencers to promote the brand to generate awareness and, boom, the dollars will come rolling in.

However, it appears that most have actually forgotten how Glossier (or rather, Into the Gloss) started – by building a community based on trust. When the founder first started, her goal was not to build a million-dollar brand. Her goal was to provide her audience with quality content. She became a trusted source for everything beauty related. It took time. She had a few legs up, sure – but her brand was built on the back of her own audience.

Most of you know my obsession with brand advocacy: actively pushing for its increased utilisation going back as early as 2017.

Then, this week, I received a company e-mail from Fohr, which resonated well with me. It contained the below paragraph:

“So we are running towards what works; getting back to the root of the root: working with influencers and creators who add value to the world, who answer to their audience rather than their accountants. We are working with influencers who want to build long term relationships, who don’t want to work with ten fragrance brands in a month, but one that they really, truly love. We are going to tell true stories, not fairy tales. We are working with influencers who act as ambassadors.”

I hope this will become the start of a substantial, meaningful shift within the industry – a shift that’s arguably been a long time coming.

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