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What: Brands are looking to top social media influencers to create innovative, authentic, and culturally-relevant content that resonates with a multicultural America.
Why it matters: According to a survey by Tomoson in 2015, nearly 60% of marketers were planning to increase influencer marketing budgets during the next 12 months.
In 2015, Tomoson, a software to manage and match influencers with brands, surveyed 125 marketers and produced metrics on topics like how much revenue influencer marketing can generate.According to the survey, 59% of those marketers believe in influencer marketing so much that they were planning to increase their ad budgets for it within the next 12 months.
“Brands are looking to top social media influencers as the new publishers of tomorrow,” says Lynn Ponder, digital strategist and social media award winning influencer and founder of webcitygirls.com. “Some brands are now dedicating a portion of their marketing budget directly to influencer marketing, and it will continue to grow and attract other brands’ attention,”
This new way of advertising is even stealing screen time from traditional media. “Original influencer content can attract as much attention as a beautifully produced TV spot,” confesses Natalie Boden, president and managing director at BodenPR. “The key is to invest in ideation, creation and execution; it can be a six-second Vine video, an animation on YouTube, a snap on Snapchat or a GIF on Facebook. It’s about creating captivating content that appeals to the brand’s target audience.”
This challenge is paired with that of navigating a new multicultural world, where content has no boundaries and influencers come from all walks of life. “Brands need to engage with these influencers to create innovative, authentic, and culturally-relevant content that resonates with a multicultural America,” adds Boden.
According to Roxanna Sarmiento, vice-president of client services and business development at Latina Bloggers Connect, “Latinas are expected to become 30% of the total female population in the U.S. by 2060. This population growth, coupled with the interconnectedness that the Internet offers, opens an unprecedented opportunity to reach a fresh and very influential demographic.”
“Brands that want to reach Latinos know they need to work with influencers that are a part of this cultural shift,” says Sarmiento. This explains why it has become so important to go where the multicultural influencers are, and to form a solid marketing strategy to really make the most out of these partnerships.
It takes more than just finding the influencers: you need to speak their language and understand the cultural nuances of both the Hispanic consumer and the Internet.
Some companies have already developed software to help both brands and influencers around the world connect. For example, Escucha™, BodenPR’s social listening platform, tracks the top multicultural influencers across categories such as music, sports, entertainment, bloggers, viners and youtubers. The platform plugs in keywords and tracks conversations that are happening across categories. For example, if you’re a food brand and you want to determine which multicultural influencers mention food or ‘being hungry,’ Escucha™ can capture this and give the brand an opportunity to interact with the influencer.
“With Escucha™ we can input categories and capture the top influencers in these categories, giving the brand a complete view of who is driving the conversation across these areas,” explains Boden.
Another software is SocialPubli.com, an online platform that enables marketers to connect with multicultural influencers from Twitter, Instagram and YouTube via a fully automated marketplace. The startup has been operating in the United States, Latin America and Europe over the past year, and has been able to gain 10,000 users in over twenty countries. According to the platform, one of its key differentiators is that “it is open for any social media user to sign up and start earning money, thus democratizing the access to brand-consumer collaborations.”
The Right Message
Once you have found the right multicultural influencer who will represent your brand online, the challenge is being able to communicate with your audience correctly. “Hispanics, especially Hispanic millennials, are incredible curators,” admits Boden. “They’ll catch when someone is trying to sell to them immediately. The challenge is to create that content that is transparent, real and culturally relevant in a way that doesn’t look overly produced.”
Lorraine C. Ladish, multicultural influencer and founder of VivaFifty.com, agrees. “It’s important to connect with your audience first and foremost, then you can connect with brands that align with your mission. The second [most important thing] is to connect brands with your audience because you believe they are the best matches. If you would tell your readers about a brand even if you weren’t getting paid for it, that’s a good brand to partner with.”
I consider it an art to be able to weave a story into sponsored content.
No matter the target audience or brand, every influencer faces the challenge of maintaining his or her own voice, while the brand wants its message to be worded a certain way. In Ponder’s experience, as long as the influencer is truthful and works with brands he or she loves, there is no issue with their community. “It is important to work with brands that add value to the community,” she says.
The variety of digital influencers in existence today provides brands with endless creative possibilities and the ability to personalize content even more. “What’s more important is for the influencers’ voices to have an organic connection with the brand and feel genuine and relevant in a multicultural world”, says Boden. “By seamlessly weaving in the brand, multicultural influencers communicate the message in a way that feels natural and non-disruptive; it is content that embraces cultura beyond a simple translation.”
Don’t hire influencers; invest in them.
Brands need to understand that the influencer is the conduit of the storytelling, not the storyteller himself. Creative teams still have a key role in developing the storylines and scripts. Nevertheless, “don’t take the influencer out of their short form format and put them into long form; don’t box them into your idea, bring them along in the creative process; they’re an extension of your team. Be true to the voice and the format,” concludes Boden.