NEW YORK — Influencer marketing is a major focus for today's PR industry, but crafting and executing campaigns is best left up to the people you're hiring to sway public opinion, according to new research

“They tell us all the time, ‘we know our audience,’” said Rema Vasan, head of MSL’s new influencer marketing service, MSL Fluency. “There is a high level of craft and creativity that these influencers have that creates that magic with their followers.”

That notion — that influencers know what makes their followers tick better than you do — is among the most critical takeaways from MSL Fluency’s recent study on influencer marketing, based on a survey of 150 influencers, which explores how they get their jobs done, as well as their interaction with the larger marketing industry.

Vasan added that without allowing the influencers the freedom to craft and execute campaigns, brands can undermine success by diminishing credibility. Influencers know what resonates with their followers — maybe, for instance, it’s a video of a particular length. How best to integrate a brand into that content is also best left up to them.

“The authenticity coming in loud and clear is what makes that content work really, really well,” she said. “It’s not about showcasing perfection. It’s really about showing reality and the reality of their lives and how the brand integrates into that.

“We’re not trying to make it advertising,” she said.

The survey found other pain points that brands would benefit from addressing, particularly as influencer marketing is expected to grow into a $10bn industry in the next year. 80% of respondents said their top gripe with brands and agencies is not getting paid enough for their work. 59% dislike being required to create overly branded content. Unrealistic timeframes, the inability to share insights on what works and inauthentic content rounded out their five biggest concerns.

It also revealed that scaling a campaign across micro influencers is one of the most important influencer marketing trends. Influencers with fewer than 100,000 followers tend to have a deeper relationship with their followers built on trust and recognition, the research adds.