When someone mentioned to us the other week that working with social media influencers was ‘just another media buy’, we have to say it grated.


Not because it was being looked at as a commercial arrangement, as that is the way the channel and space has partially developed (although in our role as editorial champions we know this is not always the case…) But because the context of the conversation was about reach and commoditisation. The focus being on the ‘media’ side of the phrase rather than on the ‘social’ half.

It’s not to say reach isn’t important as a consideration, but as with anything that cuts through in modern communications, the real driver must be context and relevance. What ultimately is more important is not big numbers or theoretical reach, but an audience who likes what it is being told and reacts to it.

With this in mind, Wild Card MD Richard Medley shares five reasons why ‘just another media buy’ is the wrong approach if you’re after influencer relationships that make a difference.


  • The best stories are natural ones

Of course you want your brand to appear in the right way, but it can’t be forced. The influencer you choose to work with is your partner. They have a brand too. And their audience follows them because their brand resonates. If you don’t enter the relationship looking for a creative meeting of minds, you miss the opportunity to gain natural association benefits. Ultimately, it’s a modern take on editorial content, not advertising.

  • Relationships beat the one night stand

There’s come courting to do. Some sharing interests over time. Some investment in creating emotional ties. And when you understand each other, you get talked about in the best light. And more often than with ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ arrangements. A purely commercial deal delivers what you pay for: a relationship will deliver more results than you might expect.

  • What’s in it for them?

Payment is obviously appealing, but as they are trying to build their brands too, consider how you can help them do that. How do you amplify the content they are creating to amplify your brand? A media buy is a commercial deal, while influencer partnerships are more complex, with softer benefits – and richer scratching of backs and opportunities to think through. Very much linked to point 2…

  • Trust works both ways

Just as you will expect any influencer you work with to be transparent about their followers and network, and provide authentic engagement that boosts your brand, they will expect a reciprocal openness. If they ask, it’s only polite to tell them who else you’re working with in the influencer realm, and do always flag if there are any issues connected to your brand that might affect their reputation and their brand. You’re in it together and trust is important if it’s long term meaningful relationships you are after.

  • It’s not all paid for

With the right story, the right pitch, and the right influencers in focus, the craft of editorial placement still has a part to play in this space

If you want to hear more about the art of influencing influencers, managing partnerships and the depth of opportunities where this thriving community can play a real business benefit, check out our Social Media Wonderland event highlighted elsewhere in this newsletter on the 14th Feb, and join us for panel debate and discussion…