The printed versions of the ‘3 Little Pigs’ might date back to the 1840s but it is still a tale we are all familiar with. It is the one most of us grew up with and within it lies the simplest of wisdom; hard work and dedication pays off.
There is some relevance when it comes to the ‘3 Little Pigs’ and Marketing. This is especially true when it comes to Influencer Marketing, which has pretty much been ‘The’ strategy for most of last year.The general approach to Influencer marketing has been that, people tend to trust messages if they are delivered through a trusted authority. As such, brands flocked to influencers who had large audiences on their social media channels to promote their brands. As simple as that sounds, getting it right, requires a lot of energy, effort, attention to detail and most of all a thorough understanding of the campaign.
Where do the pigs come in?
We all know the story. One builds his house on straws, another on sticks and the last on bricks. The big bad wolf manages to blow down the first two, leaving the strong and sturdy brick house standing.
Brands are pretty much like the pigs in this story (pigs can be cute too!). In the sense, they are required to run a campaign and they have the choice of either building their branding using straws, sticks or bricks. The problem comes when they either rush into it without due diligence or they make decisions based on imperfect information. The end result is a failed campaign and the blame lying on influencer marketing for being a ‘fad’ instead of a strategic tool. Before reaching to conclusions you need to first identify the straws, sticks, and bricks of influencer marketing.
Many of us might have the experience of building forts out of pillows or blankets during our childhood. Imagine building a house of straws. It will look complete, maybe even cute but we all know that it is weak. The smallest of disturbance, like a sneeze, can set it collapsing on itself.
In Influencer marketing, this is what I would call poor content. To me, content is the soul of a campaign. You can dress up your campaign, light it up like Christmas Eve but without quality content, all you have is a house made of straw.
You can employ the best influencers in the world but no good can come of it. Poorly crafted content is not only a waste of resources, it could also invite backlash if it was offensive. I mean look at Pepsi’s advertisement with Kendall Jenner. It received such a huge backlash that the top 5 related queries were all related to this controversial advertisement. I am sure that Pepsi did the campaign with the intention to increase brand awareness. Minus the public backlash, I would say mission accomplished!
I am certain Pepsi did not expect a backlash this big but this is bound to happen when you lack quality content, the core substance of any good campaign. While it is difficult to quantify the exact impact of this failed campaign, I invite you to picture Coke vs Pepsi. I don’t know about you but as of now, I find it easier to imagine ‘share a coke’ when I think of Coke and the Kendal ad when I think of Pepsi. The amount of PR and Marketing effort required to reverse the damage a bad campaign does is phenomenal.
Sticks are what I could call the ‘Grey’ area. You have a reasonable content, you execute it to a reasonable extent but things still fall apart. This is usually attributed to the lack of due diligence. When I hear ‘stick’ my mind goes back to this exact moment in the Big Bang Theory where Raj orders a ‘Harry Potter’wand and gets a stick. Seriously, watch the clip before reading on. (It is worth even if you are on mobile data)
Technically the seller did nothing wrong. He did ship over a limited edition ‘wand’. Raj just did not do his due diligence. Same goes for that second pig. He knew the house had to be sturdier so he chose the material that was stronger than straw but still easier to build. The end result was a house that collapsed just like the one made out of straws.
In Influencer marketing, having the right content is a great start but you need the right person to bring it to the finish line. You need to execute it well. This includes choosing the right influencers to work with. It is dangerous to assume that all influencers are the same and deciding on one based solely on cost. Influencers have their own target audience and demographics. They also have their own personalities, credibility, and social presence. They are not all equal.
Take PewDiePie for example. This YouTube sensation has millions of followers, he was poised to be the face of a new breed of social media celebrities. He had contracts with giants like Google and Disney too. But all of this changed when he made a series of less than tasteful comments on his channels. It is an excellent example of influencer marketing gone wrong.
Right after the controversy, YouTube, Google, and Disney dropped him in a heartbeat to insulate themselves from this controversy. Brands need to account for the influencers’ credibility when collaborating with them. As a marketing strategy, influencer marketing can seem effective but it is vital to remain diligent about the influencers collaborating with your brand. All it takes is one misstep to drag your brand alongside them and once again it requires tremendous effort to reverse any resulting damage to your brand image. Choosing the ‘right’ influencer matters.
The wisest of the 3 pigs, decided to build a house out of bricks. Surely it took time, effort and even more money to build that house while the other 2 pigs finished theirs way ahead and called it a day. However, the last pig spent his efforts on building something durable and the end result left the wolf red-faced as he gave up, sorely disappointed.
If someone were to ask me what is the drawback of influencer marketing. I would tell you just like any advertising, there is the question of intent. Does the influencer really like the product or does he/she just do it for the monetary benefit? More importantly, do they have the freedom to provide unbiased reviews? The sad truth is they very rarely do.
Influencer Marketing strategies should be implemented with great thought. From crafting quality content to choosing the right influencers and finishing it with the proper execution, they are all important. But what does it take to surpass that? What can further strengthen a campaign that is already supported by quality content, in-depth analytics on demographics, influencers, and accurate metrics? The final ingredient is ‘unbiased review’.
Let’s look at Sephora, the closest most adults get to feeling like kids again. It is hard not to get excited by the sheer variety of products and the infectious energy every other shopper brings as he/she looks out for the next best thing.
Their ‘Beauty Talk’ is a network of mostly female cosmetics enthusiasts who maintain a bottomless list of forum discussions on beauty, confidence, and self-image. Sephora took a different approach in mind and cultivated a community of insiders to leave honest product reviews to help consumers make informed purchase decisions.
In essence, Sephora sends free samples to bloggers and other influencers with no strings attached.This model works for Sephora because influencers have the freedom to be authentic and genuine. The reviews are unbiased and this, in turn, nurtures credibility of the brand. As of now, while it is difficult to implement this across all industries, it definitely seems to to be the ‘secret’ to going the extra mile.
The usual parameters and metrics still do exist but compared to a ‘staged’ post, unbiased opinions are more effective in building credibility for both the influencer and the brand.
It can be easy to dismiss Influencer Marketing as a hit or miss strategy or something that is left to the ‘gods’ to decide but the truth is far from it. Influencer Marketing that is backed by analytics, strong content and proper execution is capable of delivering results.
As mentioned above, the 3 little pigs story remind us of one important thing; hard work and dedication pays off. If a brand takes the time to invest its resources on Influencer Marketing and makes an informed decision based on analytics, data and trends it will see results. This is a strategy that takes time and resources to perfect but once it is ready, it will stand strong.