Influencer marketing is one of the largest growing trends we are seeing in the sports and entertainment industry. Thousands of dollars are being dedicated to social media or industry specific influencers to generate buzz around a specific campaign (for example, Under Armour’s #IwillWhatIWant campaign) or specific spokespeople for brands (like Marshawn Lynch and Skittles). This has been a specialization within public relations for the last few years, but few have really captured the complete picture of what influencer marketing can do for brands and their relationship management efforts with their key audiences.
Russ Wilde, Jr., a strategy and operations associate at Thuzio, and president of Front Office Sports, a website devoted to sharing sports stories from business executives with students and young professionals in the industry. Wilde joined Thuzio as an intern in the summer of 2013, a company that was founded in 2012 by former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber and Mark Gerson, Chairman and Co-Founder of Gerson Lehrman Group. Thuzio began as a non-exclusive marketing firm for retired athletes, and Wilde started off at Thuzio developing campaigns and devising talent options for their clients’ events. In 2015, Thuzio launched Thuzio 360, a SaaS platform that allows brands and agencies to identify the most authentic influencers for campaigns and endorsements.
Here is more in our Q&A with Russ discussing five tips for putting together a successful celebrity or influencer campaign:
1. Understanding what influencer marketing is and how it can be used strategically
Influencer marketing can most simply be defined as a form of marketing that leverages creators, experts, or celebrities to disseminate a brand message to a target audience. He also says that the one thing that makes Thuzio unique is our willingness to improve our product to better fit the needs of our clients and potential subscribers. Given how young of a tactic influencer marketing is, there are always going to be enhancements that must be made to our platform in order to maintain and improve our standing in the space. Our team has prided itself on our willingness to listen to our clients and industry trends. When you are dealing with emerging technology and new industry subsets, it is imperative to keep an ear to the ground and make sure that you do not fall behind other companies in the space.
2. Look at influencers who are doing very well and learn from them
The YouTube creator group Dude Perfect consistently produces seamless integrations within their videos. The quality of their content has attracted the likes of Callaway Golf, Adidas, Pringles, Dr. Pepper, and Gatorade among dozens of other companies. Due to their execution of authentic brand partnerships, they have been able to monetize their platform without antagonizing their follower base. In particular, I often point to them as the gold standard for integrated campaigns.
3. Identifying key KPIs and integrate research and measurement protocols for influencer evaluation
The one thing that sets Thuzio apart from many of our competitors is that our search filters and influencer identification tools are the best in the industry. We are very confident that no matter what type of influencer you are looking for, you will find that person on our platform. Whether you are looking for a retired athlete in Auburn, AL, who likes to hunt and fish on the weekends, or a mommy blogger from Seattle who loves to share cooking recipes, Thuzio will empower you to find that specific individual.
Another aspect that sets us apart is that we combine social data with human intelligence, so our clients feel comfortable that when they see information on our platform, knowing it has been verified by a member of our research team.
4. Embracing the challenges along with the opportunities in influencer marketing
The most prevalent challenge in the influencer space is understanding how to calculate ROI. There are so many factors that go into calculating the return on campaigns, and different brands value different benefits of influencer marketing. Brands engage in influencer marketing for various reasons, so evaluating the success of campaigns is an inexact science. Obviously, you can track how much revenue was derived directly from the campaign using ecommerce tracking links and cookie software, but that doesn’t take into account the value of overall brand awareness and the value of being associated with a celebrity or influencer. As a company, there is inherent value in aligning your product with high profile individuals, but determining how much value that brings is immensely subjective.
5. Build relationships that are authentic and give power back to the content creatives
There are definitely a few key elements to any influencer campaign. I’d say one of the biggest mistakes is that brands often try to insert themselves into the creative aspects of the campaign. If you are going to be working with a content creator (not necessarily an athlete or celebrity), let them devise the best way to promote your product to their audience. When working with a creator, you are compensating them for their expertise in content generation, so do not insert yourself into the creative process. You wouldn’t tell Picasso how to paint, so don’t tell a creator how to make content.
Another best practice is to view influencer marketing as a relationship-building process. We often encourage brands to build on initial proposals with product giveaways and other incentives for the individuals they work with. To look at influencer marketing as a simple one-and-done relationship devalues future success to increase brand awareness and thus potential revenue.
Lastly, and the most important aspect in any influencer campaign is authenticity. Authenticity is popularly defined by the creator’s genre of content, audience interest or brand affinity demographics, or by organic interests of the creator. Understanding these three key elements prior to engaging in influencer marketing often lead to an increase brand exposure and overall campaign success.
PRSA E&S would like to thank Russ for taking the time to share this great insight with us!