Influencer Marketing – The New Multiplier

By Neil Hourston, Chief Strategy Officer at The Corner

In reviewing a recent client report, we were pleased to see the performance of influencer marketing compare very favourably with other channels, in a broader campaign mix. Influencer was not only the most effective channel at grabbing people’s attention, it also drove higher brand awareness than TV advertising, and worked harder across the funnel, than digital activity.

Impressive as these findings were, what caught our attention was a new multiplier effect, whereby those in audience exposed to both influencer activity, and other channels in the mix, always had a more favourable impression of the brand. The report clearly demonstrated that influencer didn’t work in a silo, independently of the rest of the campaign, but instead played a complimentary role, boosting the performance of other channels, to deliver this new multiplier effect.

These findings corroborate additional findings, in our work with Lexus. Over the last 18 months, alongside an increased media spend, and a renewed emphasis on broader creative efficacy, we’ve introduced influencer marketing into their media mix. And are starting to see positive signs of it delivering a similar multiplier effect, with notable shifts in brand awareness, alongside a lift in perceptions of Lexus as a ‘brand for me’.

Follow up interviews with those in-audience for the influencer activity, revealed that Lexus had entered their social feeds, and communities, supported or endorsed by a carefully selected roster of trusted influencers, who in turn invited them to reappraise the brand:

“After I saw Lexus in my social feed, recommended by people I follow, I started to think differently about them. And then started to notice other advertising for the brand”.

“I seem to be seeing a lot more of Lexus these days – are they spending more?”

Within an overall enhanced campaign push, influencer has played its part to take Lexus closer to key audiences, to say: ‘this is a brand for you’. And as it does so, has encouraged them to stop sub consciously screening the brand out, and instead, start to notice and engage with it.

Let’s be clear, we’re not saying influencer is some sort of new, magic marketing sauce. Nor are we saying it has single handedly driven the uplifts. But we are saying there is consistent evidence emerging of influencer working to help support, and even switch on other channels, in a broader campaign mix, to unlock a new type of multiplier effect.

The concept of a channel multiplier effect in itself, isn’t a new one. Both client and agency side, we know that different channels can support and enhance the performance of each other. But we don’t tend to consider influencer as part of this integrated narrative. As a channel, or a discipline, it tends to sit outside the heart of the marketing plan. Tends to be handled with care. Tends to be more silo, or outlier, than integrated, or core discipline.

Of course, there is an understandable apprehension of influencer, operating as it does, outside of established rules or guidelines. But as weight of evidence builds, there are clear benefits available to the brands that are willing to take the leap, and embrace the potential of not just influencers, but the creator economy at large. And it’s up to us, as agencies, to help guide these brands in, to build their confidence, to help them challenge the formulas and norms of what influencer activity might look like, and importantly, to explore how influencer activity can integrate with other other channels in the mix, to deliver this new multiplier effect for their business.