Understanding the complete process is imperative to a successful outcome. (This is true for pretty much anything!) Today, we are sharing with you our Influencer Marketing Best Practices, based on our brand guide for SC’s Brand Portal. The original guide aids brands in the influencer marketing process. We have rewritten the content for our SC members so you can gain insight on what a brand is looking for when choosing influencers and the advice your SC Sisters gave to brands! Let’s get right to it:
Brands need the help of influencers to tell their story, educate consumers, and share ideas and inspiration, all of which ultimately leads consumers to purchase a product. By using their voice, story, and creativity, influencers help drive brand awareness while providing content that can be leveraged on the brand’s social channels.
Influencers have the power to help consumers at all points of the purchase loop through:
- SEO-friendly blog posts teaching readers about new products.
- Emotional headlines and content to trigger a want or need.
- Personal opinions or reviews to help teach and educate readers.
- Providing ideas and inspiration for those seeking that information.
- Research (Because influencers have already done the work to find the BEST product to solve the problem.)
- A trusting relationship with their following and readers that instills a high level of confidence in the product or service they are using.
David Schwab of Forbes recently stated that the “lifestyle expert has emerged as a viable and affordable choice for marketers looking to leverage massive, engaged audiences through organic content for several reasons.”
Influencers are relatable to the consumer, and most importantly, are trustworthy sources of relevant information and recommendations. They also know their audience well – influencers have built their following from the ground up, and have a strong, personal connection to their community. In a word, they are authentic.
As every blogger knows, the quality of content is the core of every lifestyle influencer. Your talent lies in acting as collaborators and creators in producing high-quality content and stories that will attract the audience they have already gathered. Finally, influencers are, simply put, cost-efficient advertising vessels.
Here’s some helpful insight on what a brand may consider when selecting influencers for their marketing efforts:
“Like any type of talent, brand marketers need to determine if a lifestyle influencer is right for their brand before investing time and resources. If campaign success is linked to the team’s ability to generate general consumer PR and earned media, then a lifestyle influencer’s audience may be too narrow to land big enough media hits. If the goal of the campaign is to target a specific audience, then this type of influencer can provide a significant ROI through dedicated followings and an unparalleled understanding of the platforms they leverage.” -David Schwab, Forbes
SC Tip: Since working with an influencer veers from the traditional marketing formula accepted in the past, we should expect the working relationship between a brand and an influencer to be different, as well. The approach is more along the lines of a collaborative work effort, where the brand and the influencer work together to produce valuable content for everyone involved.
Style Collective surveyed 88 of our sisters – from newbie bloggers to seasoned influencers – about what it’s like to work with brands and how to get the best out of your business relationships. Scroll down to see their insights!
When surveyed, a staggering number of influencers preferred to work on campaigns that included a few select bloggers. It can be unappealing, from a consumer standpoint, to check an Instagram feed and see several people promoting the same brand with the same item on the same day. It devalues the brand. By not selecting influencers that align with their mission, brands can lose their credibility and worth, and look disingenuous to consumers. Working with the same top influencers can also have a negative effect on the industry. If consumers see a brand working with only top influencers with a large following, it devalues the campaign because the consumer knows the influencer is getting paid only for their reach.
Some influencers, however, noted the positives of working with a large number of bloggers on campaigns. While there are benefits, brands should tread carefully in over-saturating the market. It can be useful if the brand’s objective is to spread brand awareness; the more eyes that see their product, the better. Using many bloggers also gives more individuals the opportunity to participate in your campaign. Often, influencers with small followings can be better, because their followers can be more active. Their readers may also value their opinions more because they don’t do as many sponsored opportunities.
Overall, most bloggers agreed on one thing: quality over quantity is always a good thing. For a campaign to be aesthetically successful, it’s imperative that an influencer truly reflect the image and values of the brand. Brands should work with bloggers that fit their company’s vision. Follower count isn’t everything!
Working together (again!)
Long-term partnerships are more mutually beneficial to both brand and blogger. There is no reason brands and influencers shouldn’t develop and maintain long-term relationships – most prefer it! There are so many positives to long-term work with specific bloggers. If you worked with a brand and the brand loved your work or saw the potential for another campaign, collaborating with you again could further solidify the consumer’s faith in the brand/product, as well as the reliability of you (the influencer!). If an influencer never revisits a product for a follow-up post, how likely is your audience to believe their faith in your brand was authentic? It seems more genuine when influencers are not constantly switching up who they are promoting.
Additionally, if a consistent relationship between a brand and influencer exists, each party knows what to expect from the other, and mutual trust is built. Influencers might prefer to partner with a brand they can create a long-term relationship with. Influencers love being part of a brand’s journey of growth and change and helping their ideas come to life over time. A sense of ease and comfort develops when an influencer shares a common goal and a deeper relationship with a brand.
What brands should NOT do
We (influencers and brands) all want to work together – so what are brands doing wrong? Some mistakes are unintentional, so let’s clear up some MAJOR missteps our members shared with us.
DON’T GO IN BLIND – DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Some brands reach out with no idea of what a blog is about and offer products and/or stories that aren’t interesting to the blogger or their audience. (The opposite is also true! When reaching out to brands, do your research and take a look at who you’re contacting.) Canned emails won’t work if you want a successful partnership!
DON’T GHOST US – RESPOND TO OUR EMAILS AND FOLLOW THROUGH!
A brand rep should always respond to an inquiry to collaborate, even when it’s a no. Or, if you’re the one reaching out to a brand – follow through. You shouldn’t say you’re sending products and then…not. Agreeing to partnerships and then not following through is a major no-no that can damage your reputation.
DON’T UNDERVALUE US – PAY US OUR WORTH!
Brands shouldn’t only offer a 10% discount as compensation for services, and you should make sure your demands aren’t too high compared to what you’re offering an influencer in return.
DON’T FORGET OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA OUTLETS – NOT ALL OF US HAVE BLOGS!
Some influencers get turned down by brands because they don’t have a blog, but instead (for example) run a YouTube channel alongside an Instagram account. Remember, 4,950,000,000 videos are viewed on YouTube daily, and Instagram has 700 million active monthly users! Use facts and stats to make your case to a brand that might be undecided.
DON’T TAKE, TAKE, TAKE – GIVE US A LITTLE LOVE!
Some companies want to barter for posts and then ask for social shares, multiple images, and to use the images for their own marketing materials. No way! Some companies are getting away with more than $1,000 plus worth of services for literal pennies. Share the love and make sure contracts are mutually beneficial, or else brands might find themselves earning a reputation among influencers – and not a good one.
DON’T EXPECT A MIRACLE – GIVE US A REASONABLE TIMELINE!
Most influencers like having a decent window (two weeks minimum) to generate their content. Remember, some have photographers to schedule, have other posts lined up in their queue, and have other brands they are working with. Also, it can be inconsiderate when a project has a short turnaround time on the blogger’s end, but the brand will take up to several weeks to ship a product or provide all pertinent information.
DON’T TURN US INTO ROBOTS – LET US USE OUR AUTHENTIC VOICE!
Let influencers use their authentic voice, not just the verbiage a brand has grown accustomed to in the marketing world. This makes for a happy blogger and a convinced audience.
Tips and Advice From Influencers
As you can imagine, within the Style Collective network, bloggers have had hundreds (if not thousands!) of experiences working with brands. So, we gathered some of their sage advice and compiled some helpful tips and comments for brands – from REAL influencers!
ON TAKING THE LEAP…
“Do it. You have a marketing budget, so it would be in a brand’s best interest to use influencers since they are more relatable than a model in an ad.”
“There is much more value in partnering with influencers in a curated campaign than just shelling out packages in the mail. Your quality of content will rise and so will your brand awareness and influence. This also makes other bloggers want to work with you. After doing this correctly…you won’t be sourcing for campaigns out of desperation; bloggers will be coming to you to pitch ideas.”
ON ALL TYPES OF INFLUENCERS…
“Be open to working with influencers who have smaller followings with good engagement. Be open to their creative ideas, as they may be the key to really marketing the product at hand. Take risks on bloggers who may have a smaller following. Reach out to smaller influencers who actually need your brand’s help in getting out there. It doesn’t hurt your company.”
“I would say to be comfortable with exploring partnerships with up and coming influencers. Building a relationship with an influencer prior to them growing a huge audience can be beneficial for the brand.”
“Be open to influencers who are just starting. They are working on spreading awareness and can use your brands to do it and reach an untapped following.”
“Be personable. It’s really obvious when it’s a canned email; make sure to add a personal touch.”
“If you are doing a large collaboration with influencers, don’t have them all post on the same day; spread it out because it becomes very obvious […] It makes it look less authentic.”
“Realize that most of us have full-time jobs. We need longer than a week to create [beautiful] content!”
ON THE GAME PLAN…
“I like when brands make their expectations clear. What is my deadline? How many photos do you expect? Do you have any specific SEO tags you’d like me to utilize?”
“The influencer […] knows their audience best, so let them use their own voice!”
“My advice is for the brand to understand how bloggers work: come up with the campaign idea and realize that if what you’re asking for requires a lot of work, it cannot be done for free. Our blogs are our business. Though they may gift us products, bloggers won’t always post about it. Come up with a campaign and be clear from the get-go.”
“I would suggest always having a plan of action for posts, whether it’s a mention, hashtag, or discount code.”
“Know our value. Consider the time and money an influencer invests in creating engaging content for the brand and compensate accordingly.”
“If an influencer has a set price for their services and you as the company are approaching them, don’t fight with them on their prices. Creating and promoting content is a lot of work and comes with a price that needs to be respected, just as any other service would be.”
“Affiliate programs don’t have a lot of appeal, especially when asked to promote a brand without any compensation.”
“If gifting items, allow the influencer to choose the item. They will promote it more if they truly like what they are promoting.”