Tailify declares an end to 'gut feel' in influencer marketing

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Date: 13 April 2022

The science behind successful influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a key part of the plan for today's brands. But how do brands really know they're working with the right influencers? If they are not applying the principles of behavioural science, suggests Tailify CMO and co-founder Fredrik Martini Andersson, then perhaps they don't. He explains what science can bring to influencer marketing, why top-line metrics make brands blind and why we need to set aside gut feeling.

You have been in influencer marketing more or less since the start. Was behavioural science always a focus for you?

We have been working in this field for nine years. For the first four years we were an agency, and we built a platform that let you select influencers based on the same top-line metrics as anyone else. But we learned from our own experience that we were not solving the underlying problems. Yes, we had a platform, you could go there, you could find influencers, but it didn't necessarily mean that you got a better influencer and a better message and a better understanding of why things went the way they went.

Three years ago, we decided to shift our approach and began to invest heavily in understanding exactly why some influencers worked well for some brands and some failed. The result is our own proprietary influencer selection tool based on deep behavioural analysis. We think we've found the missing piece of the influencer puzzle.

So, what does behavioural science bring, and what problems does it solve?

The biggest challenge every brand faces is influencer selection. If you find the right influencer to promote your product to your audience, then you've done most of what influencer marketing is about. But today it's extremely difficult for brands to select the right influencer.

Most agencies take the same approach where it's about looking at the top-line metrics - likes, engagements, stuff like that. Whereas in fact it's all about people. It's not a banner ad, it's not a channel - it's people. And we gravitate towards people for all kinds of different reasons. Those reasons have been studied very carefully for centuries - that is what behavioural science is all about - but previously it hadn't been applied to influencer marketing.

So that's where we come into the picture. We don't just have a regular team like other agencies. We have a team of more than ten behavioural scientists who have a deep understanding of human psychology. And we take that insight, we build technology that detects and reports on those aspects of behaviour that make an influencer a good or a bad fit for a brand.

You use the science to help brands recruit, but you also use it to guide influencers and measure campaigns?

Our proposition can be broken down into three elements: we help you select the right influencer; we help you decide what kind of message they should deliver so the audience reacts in the right way; and then we measure the impact, the outcome of the interaction.

Do we measure the same things as other agencies? Yes, of course, we measure some of the top-line metrics too. But that's the start of our process, where we say, okay, this has happened - but why? And that's why we ask: was it because of eye contact? Was it because of left-cheek bias - because it is proven that people turning their left cheek towards you communicates emotion better? Was it self-disclosure? Was it because they used a certain language? Was it because they had the same values as the audience?

These are the things we understand, and we report on. We always revert back to behavioural science because that's where you find answers. And the underlying behavioural science works for both influencer selection and messaging. What we don't do is to make these important, complex assessments using top-line metrics alone. And we definitely don't do it with gut feel. Everything we do is deliberate and guided by evidence.

Presumably, understanding the precise appeal of influencers, and their fit with a brand, means there isn't the same pressure for brands to go for safety-first, high-profile influencers?

Overall, we are size-agnostic. That's what our name means - we are about finding exactly the right opportunities among the long tail of influencers. And top-line metrics such as follower numbers don't really tell you a lot about the effect of what that influencer can do for you as a brand. Follower numbers are one of the things that makes brands blind, and they don't necessarily correlate with results.

Where do the influencers themselves fit in among the AI analysis?

What we try to do is give the influencers as much creative freedom as possible, because we know that authenticity is incredibly important. And one of the biggest mistakes that brands make is to take a brief they have used for a traditional channel, impose it on an influencer and suffocate the creativity and authenticity in the process.

So, we offer guidance, but we don't strictly control the message. We have a guidebook with 40 principles of how to use behavioural science in influencer marketing. We might give them some advice on how they can do a certain thing, but we try not to give them a script.

For example, there are some products and some audiences where you need to be a little bit vulnerable, use a bit of self-disclosure in order to sell something. Then we will try to show them how they can do that better, show them how to sell that product. If they don't want to do it, that's one thing, but we can help them where they need help.

You talk a lot about helping brands understand the rules of influencer marketing. What are the rules?

Ultimately, we are not necessarily here for the brands or the influencers. We are here for the consumers. Because today, it is all about their rules. They decide what works. If you inspire them, if you entertain them, if you follow their rules, then you win as a brand and you win as an influencer. If you break the rules, you have no hope, either as a brand or as an influencer.

Ultimately, the science we use decodes what those rules are, and then we put them into practice. So, in the end, the users of these social media platforms, the followers of the influencers, get to see content that resonates with them, advertising that they like, that they get inspired by. Because otherwise it doesn't work - it's that simple.


Copyright 2022. Sponsored article made possible by Fredrik Martini Andersson, founder and cmo of Tailify.

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