Influencer Marketing: Can we catch up to the Chinese?

Calling influencers a new marketing trend would be crazy. Our agency has been working with social media influencers for well over 10 years, and the vast majority of marketers in the U.S. agree on the power of influencers in reaching their consumer audiences. But, are U.S brands doing it right?

A recent Forbes article, “How U.S. Marketers Are Losing The Influencer Battle”, is a fascinating read that highlights some of our team’s key learnings in working with influencers for over a decade. The TL;DR version is this: while U.S. marketers typically view influencers as a cheap and easy tactic, Chinese marketers fully understand the long-term value of influencer relationships for their brand, and (this is important) they work hard to nurture and cultivate influencer partnerships.

What’s great here is that there is an easy fix for marketers Stateside to catch up to the Chinese. And, as the article outlines, you’ll position yourself well ahead of your competitors if you take a few simple steps:

  • Offer exclusive brand experiences. This sounds obvious, but your influencer partners are an engaged and enthusiastic audience that truly wants to know everything about your brand. Why wouldn’t you want to provide them with more content? Plus, thanks to social sharing, you’re inviting not only the influencers but all of their followers to connect directly with your brand.
  • Engage directly with your top partners if at all possible. Using an agency to manage your influencer program makes sense. It’s an incredibly time-consuming process that should be done right. But, there is no substitute for occasional face-time between your partners and your core marketing and executive team. These meetings not only show your partners how much you value them, but I guarantee you’ll get more out of the meeting than they do with the crucial consumer insights you’ll glean.
  • Play the long game. One of my favorite quotes from the article is as follows: “In the U.S., we are a culture of beta testers. Marketers tend to chase shiny objects. This is a hindrance within the world of marketing because for marketing initiatives to work, you have to remain committed over a period of time.” While there is absolutely value in executing a short-term influencer program, it pales in comparison with the ROI that a long-term program (with consistent partners and messaging) will offer your brand.

What are your biggest challenges with influencer marketing?

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