C-Suite Agenda

When It Comes to Influencer Marketing, Don’t Take Shortcuts

Many view Influencer Marketing as a cheat code. They seek out partnerships with celebrities to buy their way into benefitting from the influencer’s authority, knowledge, and social following. These firms don’t understand the importance of confirming that their brand’s values, beliefs, personality, and interests are aligned with the influencer. Creating real influence isn’t about partnering with any celebrity or local boldface name just to produce a relationship with their followers. The best influencer relationships are built on integration, alignment, and shared values. It’s a collaboration designed to expand your ability to enlighten and educate customers. Getting people to join the party is what real influence is all about.

Many misunderstand this because they look at influence marketing as a hot, new way to instantly change their brand’s image and appeal solely by partnering with personalities. They fail to see the importance of education over influence. They view influencers as marketing tools, and to them, influence is an easy way to generate quick sales. So, they put off learning the best way to share their story. They shortcut the process and fail to create an influencer relationship that educates people on who they are and why they can be trusted.

It’s a waste of time.
Now the good news.
Influencer opportunities have expanded far beyond celebrities and social media personalities. Today, everyone has the potential to be a valuable influencer. 

Any person or community that possesses the credibility and ability to share your brand’s story in a way that inspires others to connect, and engages with the story as well, is an influencer. This definition of influencer reaches beyond paid influencers to include every individual, regardless of social following or influencer rating. We all have a voice. We also have open access to the internet, social media channels, and email, which provide the ability to communicate our opinions, ideas, and thoughts as frequently as we like in whatever format we choose.

Communities are included in the definition for a reason. People who share a passion or vision can be grouped together to quickly super-size your influencer opportunity. In community influencer relationships, a brand extends their credibility through an association with a group. Such partnerships have existed in the past; however, smart brands have learned to make these relationships more meaningful. Their arrangements go far beyond simple alignments and sponsorships to create brand-defining collaborations that can immediately alter a company’s trajectory.

At the heart of these expanded influencer opportunities are integration and authenticity.

When people in agreement become integrated with your brand, and they participate with passion, they gain—and give you—authority. But the connection has to be real. The authenticity in their actions allows them to stand out and be recognized.

When a true connection exists, the public learns from what they say, begins to value their own opinions, and becomes inspired to act. Whether that action is purchasing a product, signing up for an email list, or sharing a post on social media, the rare ability to celebrate a brand’s story in a way that inspires others to get involved is a truly powerful influence. This impact bubbles up from the experiences, feelings, and dreams of actual people.

Yes, make no mistake about it: The biggest advantage in the world of marketing is the ability to educate the public about your brand’s story.

This doesn’t mean producing classroom-style lectures on Facebook Live. Organizations need to make education engaging by celebrating brand story-related content, helping people understand the experience. The key is to create a constant flow of content that solves problems, answers questions, introduces new ideas, provides information on products, and makes it easy for people to be a part of what is going on.


Written by Kelly Keenan. Excerpted from Everyone is an “Influencer”: Building A Brand By Engaging The People Who Matter Most.

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Kelly Keenan
Kelly Keenan is a leading brand strategist, agency owner, highly sought-after speaker, and leadership consultant. He is the Founder and President of Brand Story Experts and for over the past two decades, has helped hundreds of brands clarify their story to ignite their culture and sales. He is also the author of Everyone is an “Influencer”: Building A Brand By Engaging The People Who Matter Most.


Kelly Keenan is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.