Back in the day, it used to be way easier when working with influencers. All you had to do was send them a bunch of brand swag and score a shout out. Now, you will have to put in more effort than just having them pose awkwardly with your latest drop, accompanied with a short paragraph about how great your product is.
The influencer marketing industry has matured and become increasingly savvy over the years. They have had to put in a lot of work to grow their reach, establish authenticity and hustle for commercial work opportunities. Of course, some much more successfully than others.
Influencers who have found the winning formula of staying relevant and connected with their followers, while constantly reinventing themselves have tasted success. Those who have failed in this regard not only lost their audience and credibility, but also the potential for new partnerships.
New ways of working with influencers have been sprouting up as brands and companies explore how to forge productive and mutually beneficial relationships. There is a benefit to working with them – but only if they’re engaged wisely.
So, how can you make sure you’re working with influencers in a way that’s right for your brand and your target market?
Influencer marketing requires time and money
Brands must approach influencer marketing with the right mindset. By now, it’s fairly obvious that not every influencer out there is a good fit for their brand. For instance, if you are a beauty brand, you would be better off engaging with makeup artists or beauty product reviewers, as they would appear more credible to your audience. Do your research, and relevant influencers who are already aligned with your campaign objectives and target audience.
The one thing that doesn’t get enough attention is the importance of dedicating proper resources towards building an influencer strategy. Influencer marketing does not fall under the same bracket as a PR plan. However, a lot of brands tend to lump them together. As a result, both these resource-heavy units often end up sharing the same budget, which often results in a half-hearted influencer campaign that reaps little success.
Occasionally influencers gift baskets or goodie bags is no longer enough. Consumers are not swayed into purchasing new products based on a one-time Instagram video or post, as it does not look genuine when an influencer raves about something only to never be seen using it again. Beyond this, truly impactful influencers know their worth and the best ways to to engage with their followers meaningfully, and might even refuse to endorse products they do not personally use or believe in.
Working with influencers is part of a bigger strategy that requires time, energy and resources. Brands should take the time to connect with an influencer and discuss how to work together, and invest in the content creation and production process.
Achieving a good balance is key – you don’t want to throw money and/or products at just about anyone who wants to come on board. You also need to ensure the influencer you work with is genuine and can help you achieve campaign results.
To do this, here are three things to keep in mind when working with an influencer:
1. Trust their creative process
Influencer-generated content is a bit different from regular campaigns. Don’t be afraid to hand them the creative reigns. After all, they have gotten to their position of fame and credibility because they know what their audience wants to see. Their authenticity is what allowed them to amass such a large following, which makes them able to inject their voice and perspective into the campaign.
The key to a successful influencer-lead campaign is ensuring the overall message aligns with your business goals and objectives, while giving the influencer the space to speak to their followers in an organic tone. Set guidelines and help them understand their role in fulfilling campaign goals.
2. Have an open mind
The definition of influencers has broadened – it’s no longer a numbers-based game when it comes to picking a suitable one to work with. There are many ways to evaluate the level of influence someone has, that goes beyond follower count.
Don’t count the impact of a micro-influencer. They have usually built up a specialised and dedicated following by working only with brands they are passionate about, to protect their relationship with their audience,
For instance, if you’re looking to raise awareness for an eco-friendly solution that helps to cut down on single-use plastics, think about including micro-influencers who are passionate about the environment.
3. Forge a mutually beneficial relationship
Both the brand and influencer need to acknowledge that the relationship is a two-way street. They are not there to just help you sell your product – they see this campaign as an opportunity to grow their own personal brand through this relationship.
Consider what other benefits you can give the influencer. They want to feel valued and heard, so find more ways for them to feel like a part of your brand.
Here’s how you can do so in a cost-effective way: Give them first dibs to exclusive product launches, event invites or even a personal discount code for their friends and family.
This can help them become more than just a one-off campaign partner to become something of a (comparatively) low-cost brand ambassador. When there’s something in the deal for both parties, influencers will be much more inclined to go above and beyond to create something great with you, and for you.
Influencer marketing can help to drive strong results for your marketing campaign – but its effectiveness depends on how savvy you are. Do your research, manage internal expectations, choose your collaborators with care and keep building those relationships.
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