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From Content to Culture: How Brands Can Embrace Social Influence Effectively


9th May 2024

In a world that’s changing at a rapid pace, it’s no surprise that influencer marketing is moving just as quickly.

Here we look at how the landscape of influencer marketing is changing and what’s to come following the Influencer360 conference, hosted by PRWeek and Campaign. The event brought together industry professionals from leading brands and agencies with content creators and agents, to discuss the latest opportunities and ever-changing landscape of the sector.

Is authenticity & collaboration the key to success?

Whilst the event didn’t have a set theme, the subject of authenticity ran throughout the day. Prescriptive briefs are ineffective; brands should provide guidelines while empowering influencers to lead. Content must stay true to the influencer and their audience. Brands are encouraged to embrace talent, collaborating with them to shape campaigns and social strategies. Notably, experts highlighted that focusing on how a product makes them feel, rather than the product itself, tends to be more impactful and engaging.

Earn-fluencer Era

Welcome to the Earn-fluencer Era, where Zillennials (Gen-Z and Millennials) favour social channels over traditional media, with TikTok surpassing Google as their top search engine. As traditional media declines, communication professionals must adopt a social and influencer-centric approach, placing content on social channels to shape trends and align with culture swiftly. The evolving relationship between journalists and influencers highlights the importance of leveraging social trends to drive news agendas. By embracing this strategy, communication specialists can sell stories based on emerging social trends, recognising the significant impact of social media on shaping narratives and influencing consumer behaviour. After all, everything is influenced by social and social influences everything.

What channel is right?

The answer is ALL. Brands should invest in putting content out across all platforms. Just because your objective is to be on one channel doesn’t mean you need to neglect others and can further result in brands being able to negotiate package deals with creators. Rather than reinventing the wheel with unique content for each platform, creators can provide different edits of the same content across all channels. This approach gives consumers a fresh perspective, while avoiding duplication detection by algorithms.  Furthermore, although not all brands have TikTok channels, TikTok’s influence is undeniable. Brands must find a way to engage with this audience to stay relevant; adapt or risk becoming obsolete.

Never stop learning

As investments in influencer marketing continue to rise, there is a heightened focus on the ROI of these investments. One valuable piece of advice we strongly agree with from Lyndsey Homer, Cadbury Senior Brand Manager at Mondelez International, is to allocate at least 10% of your campaign budget for test and learn programs. This approach allows brands to experiment with different audiences, platforms, or content directions that may not have been previously considered. The outcomes of these tests could yield positive results and serve as a foundation for future campaigns if successful. When implementing this strategy, it is crucial to clearly define the objectives of the tests and the anticipated insights to be gained from them. This will help to sell this investment into the wider business.

The rules & regulations

We’re all familiar with the two main regulatory bodies for influencer marketing, ASA & CMA. But, are there any new regulations we need to be aware of? YES.

Next year, the CMA will be introducing a new direct enforcement regime that will allow the CMA to investigate suspected infringements directly, issue enforcement notices and impose fines of up to 10 per cent of an brands global annual turnover. Currently, the CMA has no powers to order the cessation of illegal practices: it must go through the courts. Even if an order is made, the CMA cannot fine the business if it does not comply with the undertaking.

Additionally, the ASA are no longer accepting a contract stating the influencer is responsible for declaring partnership content as an ad. Brands need to monitor and check what goes out is compliant throughout the partnership agreement.

What is the future of influencer marketing?

Trends that once took 8 years to form can now emerge in just 8 hours. Brands must stay externally focused, actively listening and understanding the ever-changing landscape both in the UK and globally. To thrive in this fast-paced culture, brands must be agile, responding swiftly and authentically to trends, willing to take risks and step out of their comfort zones for maximum impact. Those who dare to break the rules are often the trailblazers leading the way. One of our favourite quotes of the day:

“Not everything can be measured, and not everything that can be measured is success.” – James Wallis, Head of Content Marketing at NatWest Group

Whilst we have come so far as an industry, there are still significant areas for development. In fact, one of the most unanswered questions is ‘how do people source influencers’ and ‘how is success measured’, which are still at large debate amongst the industry as there are so many different tools and opinions out there now with no one guidance as to the right or wrong way to do this. Truly demonstrating, not one size fits all.

If you want to learn more about how your brand can incorporate or leverage influencer marketing into your communications strategy, then get in touch.

If you’d like to know how Houston can help you, get in touch with our team