3 Timeless Influencer Marketing Lessons to Live By


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Influencer marketing is one of the most effective strategies in the marketing mix. In fact, a joint study conducted by TapInfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions revealed that it can generate up to 11 times the ROI of traditional digital marketing practices.

While influencer marketing is something nearly all brands (both new and established) are already using, and as useful as it is, finding the perfect influencers, platforms, and tactics to represent your values and achieve stellar results is no easy task.

Fortunately, the spread of social media over mobile devices has significantly widened the scope of influencer marketing. For instance, the younger generation have a distinct emotional attachment to YouTube stars – about 7 times more than traditional celebrities.

However, even as the times change and all kinds of new opportunities present themselves, there are several fundamental approaches that will never go out of style. Let’s discuss three of the major ones.

1. Be Visual

Humans are visual creatures. There are all kinds of studies that prove this point. Thanks to the internet and social media, the current rate of information flows at an extremely fast pace. For this reason, visual effects need to be a primary aspect of your marketing campaigns.

During the planning stage, you need to have firm answers for how exactly you want to impact the target audience.

  • How do you want people to feel when they are exposed to your messaging?
  • What emotional triggers are most beneficial in driving action?

When it comes to matching influencers with your desired outcome, one of the most important things to look for is the underlying meaning of how they use visual elements. What greater value does each detail hold? Try to look at it from a completely unbiased perspective. Then, match up your findings with the traits of the target audience.

As obvious as this may sound, the best place to start is with Instagram influencers. Instagram lets brands combine a highly visual marketing format with innate celebrity appeal for effective messaging.

One of the best examples of this concept in recent memory is how the Built with Chocolate Milk used world class athletes as influencers. The message of their campaign is that chocolate milk has a myriad of health benefits that fuel personal wellness. Who better to represent the meaning of personal wellness than professional athletes?

If you look at the campaign on Instagram, you’ll see famous athletes from all corners of the sports world, from basketball player Klay Thompson, to swimmer Tyler Clary, to soccer player Kelley O’Hara.



One of the cornerstone objectives of this campaign is to make consumers feel motivated to achieve their best. The influencers they use are living proof of this ideology and the visual effects work to show that chocolate milk is what fuels the mindset.

Visual appeal can easily be the most powerful weapon of an influencer campaign. The key is matching up the cognitive attributes to work as a single unit that awakens the soul to act.

2. Value Engagement Over Reach

One of the biggest mistakes brands make when choosing influencers is looking at the wrong metrics. Most prominently, taking only reach into consideration.

On the surface level, this can be one of the most important metrics to examine. Make no mistake, it should certainly play a role in the process. However, reach, by itself, has very little importance. The true value stems from user engagement. Ultimately, this it all comes down to quality over quantity. In other words, it’s much more beneficial to reach an audience of 100 highly-engaged consumers than 1,000 semi-engaged or distracted ones.

So, you’ve searched far and wide and pinpointed an influencer who has similar core values with your brand messaging. Additionally, they have a huge number of followers across their channels. While this is good sign, you need to look closer at how exactly people interact with this influencer.

  • How frequently does their content get shared?
  • Do followers regularly contribute to the conversations?
  • Does the influencer interact with their community of followers?

Most of this information can be traced back to the level of value the influencer works to provide with their content.

Take travel influencer Brian Kelley, founder of the ThePointsGuy.com, for example. If you look at his website and Facebook profile, you’ll surely notice he places a very high priority on providing meaningful, actionable insight that followers find useful.



You’ll also notice his followers frequently engage with his content, in the form of reactions and comments. This has led him to become one of the most powerful influencers in the entire travel industry.

When you are in the process of narrowing down your list of potential influencers, look deeper into how consumers relate to their messaging. How do these types of reactions align with your own marketing?

Understanding notion is crucial in finding an influencer to effectively promote your brand in a meaningful, organic way.

3. Plan for the Long-Term

Pairing with an influencer should not be thought of as a one-off occurrence. If you make a smart choice, the figure and their audience will be a great asset to you down the road, and vice versa. Think of influencer pairing as a marriage. When you marry someone, you also marry their family, friends, network, etc.

When you are planning out your campaign, similar to planning for a marriage, you need to take into account the influencer’s lifetime trajectory.

  • What are their long term goals?
  • Where do they see themselves in five to ten years?
  • How has their audience evolved?
  • What direction does it look like it will be going in the future?

All of these factors are extremely critical in this process. If you have already found the perfect figure to help your brand develop, each action should not so much be thought of in terms of immediate gain. Instead, the primary focus should be on nurturing the relationship itself. Going back to the marriage analogy, it’s all about give and take.

For instance, try to give some leniency in terms of messaging. Let them promote your content in their own genuine voice. In essence, influencer content that promotes other brands must be natural. If not, it sticks out like a sore thumb and can easily turn audiences off. If you’ve done your research and chosen the perfect figure to partner with, it shouldn’t be a big issue – again, just like a marriage.

This concept of long-term influencer partnerships is well-established in the fashion industry. Brands need to have an idea of how their ambassador’s style and voice will fit (and evolve) in order to ensure they remain a viable voice to promote products. Perhaps the best example of this is the Michael Jordan and Nike partnership. This brand-influencer marriage has been around since the mid 1980’s and is currently stronger than ever!


The best influencer partnerships are designed to be future-proof. When you’re at the drawing board, think ten, twenty, thirty years out. Ideally, influencer campaigns should age like a fine wine.

Over to You

Influencer marketing is about so much more than helping brands make their mark. It’s about shaping cultural development as a whole. This is what makes the tactic one of the most interesting ingredients to the marketing mix. Your selection and execution should not be done on whim. The most successful campaigns involve an uncanny amount of research, attention to detail, collaboration, and of course, a certain degree of risk.

Lori Wagoner
Lori Wagoner is a marketing researcher and strategist who works with small businesses and organizations to help them gain online visibility. Feel free to strike up a conversation on Twitter @loridwagoner.


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