Brands And Influencers: Understanding The Ever Evolving Relationship
Always evolving, influencer marketing now supports a diverse array of campaigns that go beyond traditional paid sponsorships. While large-scale campaigns were once restricted to one-off pay-per-post models, brands now have the option of mixed campaign types -- campaigns that feature non-monetary value proposals. More sustainable and often longer term, these new campaigns are the result of a changing market environment: one in which brands internalize their influencer marketing efforts, technology permits alternative value propositions and influencers act as PR professionals.
To understand these nuanced relationships, here are three examplesof mixed-model influencer campaigns that are growing in popularity:
1. Pure Sampling Campaigns
Unlike models that include an automatic commission, pure sampling is the exchange of a sample in return for reviews and exposure. Pure sampling is the most commonly used campaign on our software. Based on 199 IM software users, we observed that roughly 60% of them opted to send samples instead of proposing direct payment. Why is sampling so popular for both brands and influencers? Simply put, it is a win-win as the influencers get to try their services or sample their products, and the brands receive genuine reviews and targeted exposure for less.
2. Outreach Campaigns
Outreach campaigns are based on the exchange of information. Sometimes brands offer niche influencers insider news from their industry in exchange for exposure. For these expert influencers, the opportunity to share previously confidential information with their audience is a big non-monetary motivation to work with a brand.
Awareness campaigns are another form of outreach in which brands promote a charitable cause with an influencer who is invested in that topic. By working together, brands and influencers can communicate important messages without the exchange of money. For example, tool company MICROJIG partnered with niche YouTube influencer Steve Ramsey in a woodworking awareness campaign that benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
3. Brand Ambassadorship
Thanks to influencers, brand ambassadorship has taken off in 2017. While the concept of being a voice for a company is nothing new, influencers put a certain intimate twist on brand ambassadorship because they aren’t celebrities. Take Glossier, for example, a makeup brand that exploded on Instagram by mobilizing an army of brand influencers who wanted to become Glossier girls. Instead of payment, these ambassadors identified with the brand's vision and felt compelled by the special freebies given to influencers. In a Quora contribution to Forbes, Glossier influencers are described as promoting the products out of pure love for the brand. Fueled by genuine passion and a willingness to share experiences with their community, influencers made brand ambassadorships a non-monetary campaign type.
Mixed campaigns are the product of an evolving market.
The relationships between brands and influencers aren’t static in today's market. Influencers are no longer just freelancers who have signed up to be in marketplaces, nor are brands restricted to pre-prescribed payment models. Rather, companies are beginning to vary their value proposals and cultivate unique, long-term relationships with influencers. This evolution is possible in part due to a growing global familiarity with influencer marketing and a rise in technology that supports non-monetary value propositions.
Why incorporate new transaction models into campaigns?
Besides the obvious budget motivation, the benefits of incorporating non-monetary transactions are numerous. As these exchanges are based on mutual interest, long-term benefits or exclusivity, they can feel more genuine with audiences than traditional paid sponsorships.
The effects of mixed campaigns on brand communication strategy can also be longer term than expected. Unlike print or digital ads, influencer posts won’t disappear after the campaign is over -- they can remain on the influencer platforms forever.
As influencer marketing evolves, new campaigns develop. The growing popularity of mixed-value proposals shows that the relationship between brand and influencer is changing. In-house marketing, upgraded technology and the professionalization of influence will play a big role in the near future of influencer relations.