Marketing Briefing: Brands collaborate on influencer marketing with an eye on ‘community infiltration,’ finding fee savings

The header image features an illustration of a woman holding up a circular product in a social media post.

This Marketing Briefing covers the latest in marketing for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

When a food influencer creates something new, it’s likely that the influencer will use more than one brand. Case in point: A recent recipe post (dill pickle chicken salad) from wellness food influencer @lainiecooks_ featured both Graza olive oil and Grillo pickles, with both brands tagged on Instagram in a paid partnership.

Food influencers aren’t the only ones who combine brand partnerships in their content. The same can be said for beauty influencers, for example when they post a Target haul or beauty routine, or fashion influencers, when they post summer outfit inspiration, or myriad other influencers in various niches. Marketers are increasingly recognizing the benefit of collaborating with other brands on influencer marketing efforts and are anecdotally more keen to do so this year, according to five influencer marketing executives.

“It can be another way to talk about the brand that can really garner attention,” explained Mae Karwowski, CEO and founder of influencer marketing shop Obviously. For the influencers’ followers, “it’s like, ‘Oh cool, I kind of expected to just to hear about one brand but I’m hearing about a lot of brands and it seems more authentic.’ Or maybe a creator is going through their whole hair routine and clearly they don’t use the same brand for everything,” Karwowski added.

The authenticity of these brand collaborations is just one reason marketers are eyeing them more this year. The cost savings, as well as the ability to grow their audience by collaborating with other brands and potentially swapping followers, has been a big draw for marketers, the execs said, as marketing budgets are still tight and finding news areas of growth remains crucial.

Past collaborations for the Graza brand have been about “bringing a creator on to further our reach into a new community,” explained Kendall Dickieson, social media consultant for brands such as Graza, Little Sesame, and more, who added that when collaborations go well, the brands may be able to garner each others’ followers and grow both followings. “It’s usually community infiltration vibes. Maybe the brand is in a different space than us, but they might have people who do enjoy us, same with the creator,” Dickieson said.

When Instagram rolled out its collaboration feature in 2021, which allowed brands and creators alike to co-post with multiple parties, the collaborations themselves became that much easier for marketers and creators. In recent weeks, TikTok has reportedly been testing out its own collaboration feature, which may be another reason marketers are more interested in collaborating for influencer content now. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the feature.

“It’s something we’ve seen on Instagram a lot, YouTube too, and now we’ll probably see more of it on TikTok,” said Danielle Wiley, founder of influencer marketing agency Sway Group, adding that she has been surprised that more brands haven’t taken advantage of the ability to collaborate.

Partnering with another brand can allow brands that typically can’t afford bigger influencers to pool resources and work with more high-caliber influencers, too. Typically, when collaborating with another brand on an influencer post, brands will go 50/50 on the cost. However, in some cases where one brand is bigger or has more wiggle room with their spend, there have been agreements where one brand will pay for a bigger chunk of the cost over another.

Though, hammering out those details as well as what the content will be and which brand will be featured first or tagged first can lead to a stall when it comes to potential collaborations.

When collaboration conversations have been brought up in the past “often we hear back all of the roadblocks to that,”explained Wiley. “It sounds like a brilliant idea and I do think it’s very smart and I do think more brands should be doing it. But anytime you bring two or more entities together” there can be difficulty managing both parties’ expectations.

Andrew Franz, CEO of Panel, a platform for creators and advertisers to optimize partnerships, echoed that sentiment. When doing a previous influencer collaboration between a gaming brand and a computer brand, getting approvals from both companies “ended up being kind of a nightmare,” Franz said. With both brands as cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, that often meant that one brand would approve something but the other would have changes and this ultimately resulted in seven or eight rounds of approvals, explained Franz.

“When the final deliverable is posted, it’s cool,” said Franz. “But there’s a lot of extra administrative [overhead] when trying to get multiple brands and creative teams to sign off.”

3 Questions with Stacy Simpson, CMO at Athenahealth, a health care company

Is AI helpful in data processing, management and understanding?

If you think about AI, there’s a lot of tried and true, if you will, ways to look at AI in marketing and targeting. Even if you think about the entire sliding scale using automation using predictive intelligence. One of the things that we’re doing, that I’ve been focused on for the last year and change that I’ve been here, is really looking at our entire martech infrastructure and making sure that we have the right tools in place to not only connect the data that we have — we have places where the systems were there. They just actually weren’t talking to each other, necessarily, in the right way. … Now we’ve been saying, “Everything that we have, let’s first and foremost, make sure it is connected and that we’re using it to its fullest.”

Say more. What does the generative AI strategy look like internally?

We’ve got a number of different tools, some of our own tools. Athena has its own instance of ChatGPT, so we have AthenaGPT. We use within our own company — all of us, not just marketing — we all use AthenaGPT to actually do the things that you’d expect to use it for, content creation or drafting.

With the AI boom, how do you balance automation and data with creativity?

This is the job of marketing leaders is to make sure you are not so driven by the data that you actually squeeze the creative life out of the organization. The onus is on the leader to continue to drive creativity in the organization, create the expectation that creativity is our jobs. And by the way, if 100% of what we do is a home run every single minute with the data, we’re not pushing far enough. We’re not finding the edges of creativity and helping to push forward on what our audiences want to hear and want to see. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

With both the men and the women’s soccer domestic leagues drawing to a close on Sunday in the U.K., some marketers believe women’s sports in have crossed a line on the road to permanent mass appeal. A survey of over 14,000 adults from sports sponsorship firm Parity, conducted by SurveyMonkey in U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the U.K., suggests that women’s sports are gaining momentum across the board and moving from marketing moment to permanent fixture. See key data points from their report below:

  • 30% of male sports fans report watching more women’s sports than last year, while 23% report watching games daily or weekly, suggesting marketers should bear in mind a broad audience when activating around women’s sports.
  • 3.5 times as likely to buy: Survey respondents said they were over three times more likely to purchase a product promoted by a female athlete over another kind of influencer.
  • 50% of viewers in the U.S. and U.K. said they don’t believe brands are supporting women’s sports enough — suggesting there’s yet plenty of headroom for marketers considering whether or not to get involved. — Sam Bradley

Quote of the week

“We’ve stopped buying from Colossus.”

— said an ad tech exec, who requested anonymity, when asked about the Colossus scrutiny for allegedly mismanaging IDs.

What we’ve covered

More in Marketing

Cannes Briefing: How Cannes Lions 2024 became the Festival of Creators

The power of the creator economy and its hold on the advertising industry is on full display at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year.

‘More content is better than less’: An annotated Q&A with Esports World Cup CEO Ralf Reichert

With an eye-popping $60 million-plus prize pool, the Esports World Cup has been met with both excitement and skepticism by longtime observers of the space.