Influencer marketing is no longer in its infancy. Creators with influence are regularly commanding, five, six, and seven figure-fees to help popularize products in across way more consumer product verticals than you’d think. With all that in mind, we’re giving influencer marketing some dedicated attention. In Behind The Brand Deal we’ll talk to the individuals who orchestrate the deals and make the content that contribute to this multi-billion dollar industry. 

You can check out all the installments of Behind The Brand Deal right here.

Nearly everyday there’s a shiny new news story about Influencer Marketing, whether it’s Viacom buying Influencer Marketing firm WhoSay or why every business needs to embrace it to grow or WTF the FTC is doing about it.  And while all those news items are edifying in their own way, they don’t generally give you a great degree of insight into how to both navigate and utilize this growing part of the digital media industry to better effect.

That’s where these articles come in. Throughout the past Behind the Brand Deals, we’ve offered up first-hand experiences from creators as well as the talent managers behind them to help you better understand some of the idiosyncrasies of the industry. And to better diversify the business operations of our interviewees, we’re now venturing into the public relations sector.

Edelman first got into digital in 1995. As the landscape changed, from bloggers to influencers on social media platforms, the massive PR firm first founded in 1952 formed a new department in 2014 to focus exclusively on influencer content. As the US Head of Influencer Strategy and Programming, Sybil Grieb decided to answer our questions and provide insights on how Edelman utilizes Influencer Marketing.

Tubefilter: When leveraging influencers for client campaigns, what are the shared characteristics across the most successful partnerships? What do they have in common?

Sybil Grieb: Authentic storytelling. One huge advantage we have at Edelman is that we are talent agnostic. We do not have a single roster or network we are beholden to, so we are able to bring in the perfect talent for each campaign, no matter where they are. When starting work on a project it all starts with Story.

What is the story the client is looking to tell, and who is the target audience? We then determine the key messages and KPI’s, as this will affect which platforms will perform best, and what tiers of influencers will deliver the strongest results. Then we analyze which influencers are already having the right conversations with this target audience so that the brand can be incorporated in an authentic way and the audience will be engaged by a story that resonates.

In addition, we look to foster long-term partnerships between key talent and our clients, such as Hannah Hart’s series “As the Water Boils” for Barilla.

TF: After understanding the type of influencer you want to involve in a campaign, what’s Edelman’s process in identifying the perfect creator? 

SG: We create custom scorecards for the key components of influence (Organic Reach, Resonance, Authority, Accessibility) as well as certain hard and soft attributes we are looking for.

For example, we may know that we need a creator that is a woman, with a significantly engaged audience in the female 18-34 age demo. That initial list is easy to pull up. What we build on from there is the additional attributes we are looking for, the “nice to have” list, such as an influencer that also embodies female empowerment, is inspirational, maybe involved in fitness or motherhood. All of these layers are completely specific to each campaign, and when ranked appropriately, help us to identify the right influencer for each phase of the campaign.

TF: With a lot of marketers new to influencer marketing struggling to measure an ROI, what advice would you give them?

SG: Set your KPI’s from the beginning and be both creative and strategic about how you walk a potential customer through the purchase funnel.

Starting with awareness and delivering your key messages in an authentic way — to brand affinity and engagement, to action and purchase, through loyalty and repeat purchase — establish specific KPI’s to measure for each step and amplify and optimize as you go for the strongest ROI. And make sure to measure your current metrics before you launch your influencer campaign, so you have a benchmark before you start.

TF: Having worked with Dulce Candy on the Skintimate and ASHA campaigns (that we mentioned in her Behind The Brand Deal interview), what factors made you approach Dulce for a second campaign?

SG: Dulce created custom content for the Skintimate campaign that was engaging for her audience and incorporated the brand messages in a meaningful way. Her content resonated with her fans, and over delivered on the program KPIs.

Dulce has an amazing background as a former soldier who’s now a Beauty/Fashion/DIY influencer. Plus she had an established female empowerment series called Café Con Dulce. So, when we were looking for the right influencer to promote “Yes Means Test” for the American Sexual Health Association, she was one of the influencers we included in our recommendation.

STD’s are a difficult topic to talk about and she created an incredibly honest and intimate custom video talking about her experiences as well as providing specific statistics and program information. The comments on her video are a testament to the empowering conversation she started, and show how much this video positively affected viewers.

TF: Looking at other campaigns, what was your favorite campaign of 2017? 

SG: It is very hard to choose as I have a number of favorite client campaigns, for different reasons, across various budget sizes and delivering on different KPI’s.

Larger scale campaigns like the Samsung Casey Neistat integrations such as “Human Flying Drone”, and “Abandoned Mall Turned into Winter Wonderland” are a great example of a long-term partnership with a top tier influencer that embraces the influencer’s name cachet, ability to create top quality creative custom content, and deliver to a large audience, as well as garner significant earned media coverage.

TF: A lot of people have been making predictions for 2018, how do you think influencer marketing will change?

SG: I believe 2018 will see the end of non-strategic influencer marketing. The days of celebrities giving a shout out for a brand, with no custom integration, are behind us. There is a huge push for authenticity and a seismic shift towards ROI focused campaigns. In being more ROI focused, brands will become more savvy about which metrics matter, and when.

There has been a rise in fake metrics over the past few years (hybrid reach-engagement numbers instead of honest organic reach, true engagement, and separate paid amplification stats) and with the ROI focus, I am hopeful this will bring the industry in line as success metrics start becoming more standardized.

One change I would like to see in 2018, as this greatly affects the performance of influencer campaigns, is for the influencer marketing piece to no longer be run in a silo.

One of the strengths we see across our campaigns is when Edelman is the agency running the influencer campaign and the paid media strategy for amplification of the influencer content as well as the earned media. When you can leverage the assets these influencers are developing, optimizing them in real time, and amplify them across owned, earned, and paid media you’re going to to maximize the ROI.

After overseeing the talent and talent integration departments at Machinima, Chris Landa most recently served as the Sr. Director of Content & Partnerships at YouNow, where he worked with top talent and brands to maximize their presence on the platform. With a wide range of expertise around brand integrations and original content featuring creators, Chris recently launched Transparent Influence, a company focused on accountability and transparency in Influencer Marketing.

You can check out all the installments of Chris’ Behind The Brand Deal right here.

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