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“Brands have lost the ability to talk to consumers.”

When it comes to dealing with influencers, brands are often hesitant due to the possibility of backlash, or seeming too contrived in their brand-influencer interaction. In fact, we have seen many instances where this happens. But yet, fostering a relationship with an influencer is now a must as it is vital in bridging the gap between brands and consumers.

In a conversation with Marketing at the recent Inbound 2016 conference, Promise Phelon, CEO of TapInfluence, said brands have lost the ability to talk to consumers. As such, the influencer role comes in to provide context for a brand.

Explaining this further she says, when a consumer goes to a brand’s website, he/she might not necessarily understand what role the product might play in his/her life. Hence, there will be a tendency to over look it completely. But influencers can help create the “context” for the brand to play in.

“The best brands have great products, and they have a lot of people who are influencers for them who can create content around the product – with a little bit of leniency around it,” Phelon said. But when it comes to creating a healthy relationship with influencers, marketers must not see them as “freelancers” but rather a core player of the campaign. She added, the best creators and innovators often are the ones who are able to look at a brand objectively.

“If a brand wants to use an influencer as a freelancer, whatever piece of content produced from that relationship will be less successful,” Phelon explained. Ultimately, like in any good client-agency relationship, a long term relationships is necessary. This allows for more brands and influencers  conversations to occur around the products.

A long term ambassadorship should hence be something brands and influencers should work towards. In fact, a mark of successful relationship is where an interactions which might have begun as paid turning into unpaid.

“We see that happen a lot now where a brand will build the relationship with an influencer and over time it is less about ‘pay me for this interaction’ and more about ‘I just want your product to get better so I can better represent it’,” Phelon added.

What influencers bring to the table that other forms of traditional marketing does not is the fact that they live with their audiences, hence it is important to let them interpret the brand for consumers. This puts into context in how a brand’s products or service can be used, rather than how good the product or service is compared to competitors.

“They are not talking about features and why the brand is better. They are one step removed [from the marketer],” Phelon added. Her advice for marketers was,

Forget about getting in your customer’s face when they’re not looking for you. Focus on getting found where they are looking, micro-moments and moments of truth.

Consumers are not stupid, they can smell BS from a mile away

During a breakout session at Inbound 2016, actress Anna Kendrick expanded on her social media journey, going from someone who was trying to showcase a perfect “Miss America” version of herself, to a persona which was more honest and sometimes embarrassing.

“I felt I was putting out a really sanitised version of myself, which felt safe. It was very inoffensive and no one really cared about it,” Kendrick explained. However, things changed when the actress started posting something silly or funny and it saw her social channels getting more positive reactions. Anything she shared that was a little honest, embarrassing, or admits certain relatable behaviours got a great response.

“We are all really flawed, and it is nice to see someone else say it first,” Kendrick added.

Recounting a time when she was promoting the movie, Disney’s Into the Woods, Kendrick shared photos of behind the scenes a day at a time leading up to the movie’s release. Because the movie was something she personally was excited about, her willingness to share got the production big reaction from fans.

“Disney got really excited about it. Since then, some other studios have asked if I would do something similar for other projects. But I didn’t want to because people are savvy, you aren’t fooling anyone,” Kendrick said.

When you are trying to put out something authentic and go out of your way to try and make it ‘authentic’ – it doesn’t work. People can smell it on you.

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