Why social influencers and data marketing might have more in common than you think

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Emily in Paris is basically Sex and the City for the 2020s. An unbelievably annoying American struggles (does she, really?) to fit in to her new life in Paris while navigating love and life. She doesn’t have the friends that Carrie had but she does have the outfits – honestly, how does she afford them all!?

From a professional point of view, her job is hilarious. She somehow manages to connect brands and influencers together without leaving her social environment and throws out totally relevant and on point social media posts and accompanying bon mots at the drop of an expensive and deeply fashionable hat.

So when I found myself chairing a panel of people who actually do the job of managing social media influence for some of the UK’s largest, and smallest, brands, I couldn’t resist asking what they thought of the portrayal of their industry. After the laughter had subsided, and the ridicule, what became very clear is that this is a professional role, requiring a lot of investigation, due diligence and intelligence to ensure that the right influencers are selected, are researched thoroughly, and are seen to be both an extension and a representation of the brand and their values.

These were serious people doing a serious job in a space that is largely unregulated and fraught with risk.

It also got me thinking. A lot of the work that I and my colleagues do every day are a million miles removed from Ant and Dec representing Santander on Facebook and Instagram. So where is the crossover between data, a bit of a nerdy and very detail-orientated job, and social media influencing which is creative and glamorous?

Photo by Plann from Pexels

I believe there are three things that are vital in both roles:

1. Know your audience
An interesting aspect of the conversation was around locating and addressing the different audiences across the different social media platforms, and even ensuring you understand the different subgroups in each. Hey, that’s segmentation in the data world! And of course, creating pen portraits, getting a deep understanding of each group and providing personalised content for each group is also required. Snap!

2. Trust is vital
Finding the right influencer often seems to come down to one thing – trust. The brand trusts the agency to find the right people to represent the brand. The agency trusts the influencer not to do anything outrageous online and the influencer trusts the brand to live the values that they share. And of course the consumer trusts the influencer to be open and clear about why they support the brand. In the world of data, we fully understand trust and how that is built between consumer and brand and how transparency is the lynchpin of that trust.

3. Measure and learn
Finally, data still plays a big part in the world of social marketing because at the end of it all, proof needs to be provided that the spend creates the outcome desired – whether that is likes and shares or products sold or money donated to charity. We all share the same desire – to make measurement clear and simple, to demonstrate the value added and to help inform what we do next time.

Over time the online and off-line marketing worlds will blur. At the end of the day, they are all just places where brands can find and engage people, whether that is at home, watching TV, on their phone, or on social media. And influencing is as much a tool of the trade as celebrity endorsement on TV ads or in mail packs.

And the role of data itself might not always be obvious but the disciplines we have grown up with like testing and control cells are as necessary in social media as they have always been in every other channel. Yet somehow I can’t see Emily sitting down and analysing the results of a cross-channel test matrix to decide how to optimise spend in the next campaign.

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