Jason Falls is an author, speaker, and podcast host. He is the senior influence strategist for Cornett, a full-service advertising agency, where he leads digital strategy and hosts two marketing podcasts, Digging Deeper and Winfluence. Over his career, his projects have been recognized with several national and regional awards such as a 2020 Shorty Award for his influencer marketing work.
In today’s episode, we’ll discuss principles from Jason’s most recent book, Winfluence: Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand, and how we can reframe influencer marketing.
Jason started working in public relations and media relations while he studied in college then continued his work into a 15-year career. While the dynamic was a bit different, Jason found that PR was very similar to influencer marketing. “The mechanism is really not different,” Jason said. “It’s really [about] building relationships and trying to find partnerships where when their audience wins, you win.”
In PR, Jason worked with journalists to leverage their organization’s audience to build relevance and credibility; influencer marketing works very similarly. We can partner with influencers to reach their audience and promote our business. Now, Jason uses his skills and knowledge he developed in PR to work as a senior influence strategist at an advertising agency.
One of the big reasons why influencer marketing has been doing so well is because influencers are perceived as credible. We can leverage them to gain credibility with our audience while building awareness, increasing sales, and expanding our reach. By getting a trusted influencer to talk about our product, their followers will be more likely to trust our products and services than if we were talking about our own products and services.
A research study asked consumers to rank the different sources they look to when making a purchase decision. At the top of the ranking, consumers placed their personal experience with the brand. The next few things were recommendations from family, friends, and online reviews.
“All of those audiences are, to a degree, a division of influence or division of influencers,” Jason said. “Influencers impact a decision for consumers on items of significant purchase far greater than the brand messaging, far greater than the website.”
The Influencer Stunt That Wasn’t
Unfortunately, influencers can get a bad rep in the media, making many businesses hesitate to work with them. However, we should remember that things in the media can be misrepresented or inaccurate. While there are definitely influencers out there that are fake and have the potential to damage our brand, there are hundreds more that are real and can help our brand grow.
In his book, Winfluence, Jason shares the story of a lifestyle influencer, Tiffany Mitchell, who was in an accident. On her way to a photoshoot with her photographers, they were in a motorcycle crash. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt badly. One of her photographers had taken a picture of the incident and Tiffany posted the image giving her followers an update on the situation. In the picture, there was a Smart water bottle in a place where you could see the logo.
When people saw the picture with the water bottle’s brand logo, many people thought the accident was a stunt to gain more attention and followers. The media got a hold of the story and published it. With this rumour out, Tiffany’s reputation was damaged even though she hadn’t pulled a fake stunt.
With the story, Jason made the point that what we see on the mainstream media isn’t always accurate. It doesn’t always paint the right picture about influencers. Stories like Tiffany’s in the media make many brands hesitate to work with influencers; however, Jason explained that working with influencers can do much more good than bad if we choose the right ones to work with.
“Influencers are important, influencers are effective, and influencers are paying attention,” Jason said. “[Influencer marketing] is an incredibly effective and efficient way to spend your money from a marketing standpoint. . . . Don’t believe what you read on Buzzfeed; they’re only talking about the bad things that are happening. You’ve got to start looking a little deeper. As a business and brand, understand that there are hundreds, thousands, of influential people out there who might be really perfect for your brand.”
The Problem with Influencer Marketing
People in the business world don’t often have the right conversations about influencer marketing. The everyday business owner’s perception of influencers is probably that they are superficial and not good investments of our money. However, this is a problem since they are ignoring the vast majority of the influencer world.
“There’s a vast world of influencers out there who have an engaged audience . . . and if you put them in front of their audience with your brand, it can be very effective in communicating your message to that audience,” Jason said.
The problem with influencer marketing is that it should be influence marketing. It should be about trying to build influence, not necessarily working with an influencer. When people hear “influencer”, they often think of an Instagramer or YouTuber; however, influencers aren’t just on Instagram or YouTube. We should reframe our ideas of influencer marketing and think about it as influence marketing instead. Our main goal is to find people who can help us expand our brand’s influence.
“When you think in terms of, ‘I’m trying to accomplish influence,’ as opposed to, ‘I’m trying to work with influencers,’ now all of a sudden you don’t worry so much about Instagram and YouTube,” Jason said. “You start to see there are all sorts of channels, there are all sorts of opportunities, and there are all sorts of people who can help me get to my audience. . . . Get rid of the ‘er’ and start thinking about it in terms of trying to influence.”
Thank you so much Jason for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- We can leverage influencers to gain credibility with our audience while building awareness, increasing sales, and expanding our reach.
- Influencers can impact a significant purchase decision for consumers far greater than the brand messaging or our own website.
- We shouldn’t believe everything we read in the media. While there may be bad influencers out there, there are hundreds more that can help our brand grow.
- Instead of looking at it as influencer marketing, we should call it influence marketing. We are trying to build influence, not just work with influencers.
Connect with Jason
To learn more about or connect with Jason:
- Connect on LinkedIn
- Visit his website at JasonFalls.com to listen to his podcasts
- Check out his books on Amazon