The Influencer Trust Continuum (c)


Excerpt from The Influencer manifesto - Part 2 - Feb 23 2017

The storm clouds are rumbling, the end of Influencer marketing is nigh - or so some of the headlines would have you believe, but they are very, very wrong.

It all stems from a misunderstanding that many in the industry have been outlining for a while. Paying a large scale influencer to do a post is often not the right thing for a brand to do. It can be good for awareness and aspiration, but its often not authentic and can be the worst kind of blunt advertising - add in some fake followers and you have a disaster. Strategic Influencer marketing however isn't about Scale, its about Trust and Response - finding the right Influencers to deliver the Response you need. In Influencer marketing, Trust is inverse to Scale, - i.e you might aspire to live the lifestyle of a mega Influencer like Kendall Jenner, but you Trust your friends and colleagues a hell of a lot more, and as such you respond to their purchase recommendations more closely than a Power Influencer Kendall.

My Infographic below, the "Influencer Trust Continuum" (C) aims to explain this. Large scale Influencers do have their uses but are generally not good for building trust or delivering sales for companies (apart from in a few specific categories) and their branded posts are often not seen as authentic- unless they are part of a larger and more meaningful platform and plan. 

I had a big Agency boss tell me recently that all Influencers are "supposed" to be authentic and if that is proven wrong the whole Industry will collapse. I think that's a misunderstanding about the reality of what motivates us as humans to follow Influencers. The 16 yr old sister of my friend wants to be like Kendall but she wouldn't Trust her with any big life decisions or even believe her opinion on anything apart from the superficial.  

Dress like Kendall? = yes,  ask her her opinion on anything important? = hell no.

The Influencer Trust Continuum outlines how trust and response degrades as scale increases and references, it classifies "Local Heroes", Niche Influencers" and "Power Influencers" to help explain the eco-system brands are entering and the various uses and attributes of each, if your not sure what these terms mean then please look a my previous post for a detailed outline here:

The Influencer trust continuum.png

As  a quick refresher, the terms are used to split Influencers by the Scale and then the Response they deliver, the definitions are as follows; 

LOCAL HEROES: They are the cool kids at School, or the local football Captain, whatever wine she orders her friends follow suit. This category is best utilised for delivering sales by companies that need to engender Trust - e.g Insurance / Banking / Home building etc.

NICHE INFLUENCERS: They have authority on one subject , photography, or cooking, or whatever their area of expertise is. They validate brands to the consumer & Industry and are best used to deliver Brand Authority. Companies that should work with them are those that need expert recommendations - Technology, Skincare etc.

POWER INFLUENCERS: They have the ability to affect culture and groups en mass. They demonstrate a lifestyle that their followers or fans aspire to have in some small or greater part and are best used for awareness and positioning by clothing brands, jewellery etc. 

The hope is that by splitting Influencers into different categories and understanding what they are best used for, it will help the industry and brands to deliver better and more responsive Campaigns, and thats nothing but a good ting.

In the end, my belief is that as data becomes ubiquitous and A.I helps us to sort that data,  smart marketing will be about understanding who influences who and in what capacity and then engaging those networks to deliver the response needed.

In the end every marketing campaign will feature Influencer marketing and we will all be Influencers - its inevitable.

Dudley Nevill- Spencer

PS Your welcome to use the above terminology & imagery, please just credit it correctly with (C) 2017 Dudley Nevill-Spencer