January 29, 2024

Influencer 101: How to gain followers and influence people

By John Livesey

A key part of our services at KRPT° is finding the best talent for brands to collaborate with. It’s one of the most important decisions behind a successful campaign. Choose the right ambassador and your brand can achieve unrivaled reach and talkability. Choose the wrong ambassador and you run the risk of creative incoherence, consumer alienation and, worst of all, getting cancelled.

So what informs our thinking when looking for the right partners to work with? First off, cultural intelligence is key. Our team prides itself on staying in the know: keeping abreast of the latest trends, creatives, and viral content. This knowledge allows us to create business-savvy campaigns that are alive to movements in culture. It also makes us highly sensitive to how a brand’s choices will be received in the digital space. In this influencer marketing 101, we take a look at some of the other considerations to make in the process of selecting talent. Let KRPT° be your guide.

Understanding their community

Part of the attraction of influencer collaborations is that brands can tap into communities they might otherwise find difficult to reach.

Creatives have their own audiences and many are part of a specific subculture or scene. These spaces are important for brands to access in order to build the right following. Working with influencers is a brilliant way to do it. They are the cultural gatekeepers and hold the key to your target audience. 

However, in order to reach these communities, brands also need to do their research. Tokenistic campaigns run the risk of alienating consumers. A recent Nando’s advert, littered with London influencers, footballers and slang references, may have seemed like a brilliant idea. Instead such an obvious attempt to win over young, urban audiences, came across as transparent and insensitive.

The best campaigns not only use the right talent to access an audience, they also align themselves with that audience’s interests, concerns and desires. Partnerships are one way to start talking to community, but brands should never talk down to them. 

Balancing quick wins with long-term strategy

The key to good strategy is knowing what your priorities are and trying to keep them in balance. When considering your key business objectives, what short-term and long-term goals do brands need to marry?

For instance, working with an influencer may help to generate an immediate boost in sales, as well as achieving some good engagement on socials. But brands should also consider how their partners fit into a wider narrative, and a longer-term strategy for consolidating a brand identity and following. It’s no good just pandering to the moment.

Last year JD Sports used their Christmas ad to do just that, celebrating 25 years of the iconic duffel bag. A schoolbag, a boot bag, a record bag, it’s been a constant companion for UK youth. The campaign celebrates the bag, and the individuals who wear it. Seamlessly tying in cultural figures such as Kano, Central Cee, Cat Burns and Chunks.  

Collaborate on Creative, and Think Outside the Box

All campaigns benefit from creative collaboration. This brings value through partnership and means your content will stand out. Gone are the days of being able to pass an influencer your product and ask them to post about it. As the #deinfluencer trend of 2022 showed, these strategies are being met with increasing scrutiny. Instead, brands need to create something that will appeal to their partner’s audience, that will make viewers stop scrolling and interact.

Think outside the box: utilise your influencers creativity and leverage their knowledge of your audience to create something that is going to wow. Your content should invade people’s newsfeeds and make them want to engage. Collaboration helps in this process, automatically generating a renewed sense of authenticity, connecting with and inspiring audiences.

Consider the hugely popular TikTok-er Sabrina Bahsoon. What makes her such an attractive collaborator to brands is not just her huge following and zeitgeist-y presence online, Bahsoon creates content that has its own distinctive style and confidence: original, recognisable, fun. 

Her collaborations with MAC and Mercedes are eye-catching because they adopt all of the signature elements of Bahsoon’s videos: abrupt camera movements, wind blowing in her hair, and of course pop music. Instead of imposing a brand-safe method of advertising the product, collaboration leads to a more authentic feel and more exciting output.

Timing is Everything

A big part of influencer partnerships is timing. Brands should always be aware of what’s trending, and can benefit from interacting with whatever the latest viral moment is. For instance, the MAC collaboration with Tube Girl was so successful because the make-up brand was reactive, building on the hype around the TikTok-er at exactly the right moment: just before she blew up.

However, when jumping on a viral trend, brands need to be careful that they bring value-added. You don’t repost a meme unless you have something funny to say. In the same way, brands should ensure they are contributing to the conversation, and elevating whatever trends they reference.

Boohoo’s collaboration with Alex from Glasto is an example of where a brand has failed to harness the creative and viral potential of their partner. Alex’s appearance onstage at Dave’s Glastonbury set in 2019 made headlines around the UK and was widely shared online. It made total sense that Boohoo should seek out Alex as a partner, and yet the output never made waves.

Their traditional photo-shoot, with Alex decked in Boohoo’s latest season, didn’t draw out any of the creative potential that made the original video so successful. Where were the witty references to Glasto? To Grime? To the phenomenon of an ordinary teenager being made a viral superstar?

Brands need to have their finger on the pulse and work with experts like KRPT to ensure that they can pick up on the latest trends. They also need to maintain an inventive and responsive creative outlook. Consumers are increasingly wary of anyone lazily piggy-backing off cultural moments.

Following The Numbers

An influencer campaign doesn’t end once the assets are live. In order to assess and adjust the way a brand is working with influencers, it’s essential to follow the numbers. A data-led strategy will achieve much larger engagement and continuously evolve to ensure the campaign pays off.

Brands are now thinking of influencers the same way they would a media channel, monitoring performance of their posts across socials. Viewed in this way, influencer campaigns represent a self-contained digital eco-system which has the potential to draw in and champion other channels through the strength of their creative. Utilising your influencer content across your paid spend is also a great way to get more from your influencer creative and also extend the authentic message to a new set of audiences

Another way to track how a campaign is performing is through social listening. These softwares help us track how assets are performing across the digital space, including what conversation they are generating and how this might be affecting brand favorability. This data is essential to honing how a brand is reaching their audience and can be fed back into every stage of the creative process.

Take the example of Stephen Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast. It was recently revealed that the production team tested over 100 thumbnails on each ad, using artificial intelligence to test and improve audience engagement, optimising the effectiveness of every single asset. This is a huge operation but it clearly leads to results. Harnessing data is one way to keep testing and improving the content you put out there, whoever your partner is.