Influencers are the new media, therefore using influencers to spread your message is the new digital marketing. I’m not going to give you a listicle of 5 ways to optimize your influencer marketing, nor am I going to give you a bunch of case studies about what works best. Instead I hope to shed light onto influencer marketing in general and point out some of the less obvious aspects and in-your-face truths that you might not want to hear. But it’s better to hear it now than to unnecessarily burn through your 2017 marketing budget chasing a buzzword.
First it is important to differentiate between paid and earned influencer media. Paid influencer marketing is digital advertising. Earned media happens when you send gifts out to influencers with the hope that they post something flattering. Since it’s not sponsored there is no guarantee.
Paid influencer marketing (which I’m going to focus on in this post) involves paying someone with reach (a media) to spread your message (ad). The dynamic is different only in that it is probably the influencer that is going to create your ad for you. You lose a lot of control in this type of scenario but what you lose in staging you gain in authenticity. If the Web Summit at Lisbon last month taught us anything: authenticity is key in today’s web.
Influencer marketing is also digital advertising because it is measured in the same way, in terms of reach. But since reach on social platforms can only be estimated, there is a different KPI to monitor: engagement. Whereas traditional digital advertising measures click through rates, influencer marketing relies on likes and shares. What is a like or favorite worth? No one has the slightest idea. But everyone agrees that the engagement rate is important.
Paid influencer marketing is not as easy as asking for the rate card and whittling down your options. Since the influencer will also be creating that content, there is an additional cost involved. You may think that all they are doing is taking a selfie on the beach, but the reality is that they will take hundreds of pictures in many different poses before finding one image that works the best. In this way they are similar to professional photographers.
But let’s be honest, most of them are not professional photographers, so you need to be wary at the same time. Everything is negotiable, especially the amount of money you’re being asked for. Don’t be afraid to get in there and haggle. The reality is that influence is fleeting, and influencers need you as much as you need them.
I see an inverse relationship between how many followers someone has and the amount of interaction they get, meaning the more followers the smaller the engagement rate. I’ll go into this in a minute but keep it in mind when calculating your offer. As reach gets quantitatively better it gets worse qualitatively.
When it comes to influencers, the smaller the better. As an influencer’s audience grows, there are more and more people that follow for secondary or tertiary reasons. Fans of a new model who love her social conscious message will soon be joined by dudes following her because she is hot. Not exactly the type of audience a new organic yogurt brand would be trying to reach.
Yes it takes more time. Yes it’s more involved and more annoying to work with smaller influencers one by one instead of hitting up one of the bigs. But think about it, how many products do the big influencers already sponsor? Do their followers see the products anymore?
The top influencers are already too saturated. They no longer have the authenticity to be credible nor the persuasive power to push products. When you see Bella Hadid sport something all you think is “how much is she getting paid for that?”
But for the smaller influencers that I follow, when I see them doing sponsored posts I actually think, “wow, good for them! They’re making it!” It’s cool to see that someone out there doing there thing can get sponsored to keep doing what they’re doing.
It comes back down to authenticity.
Like a lot of people, I still frequently tweet, but if an influencer is charging you for tweets, you should reconsider. Unless the tweet gets retweeted thousands of times it should be included as a freebie in the media package. Twitters “Analytics” are complete bullshit and the number of people “reached” is a total fantasy. Twitter is in serious trouble, don’t blow any of your budget trying to resurrect it yourself.
In a contest of engagement, Instagram wins every battle hands down and is the king of social right now. When you work with influencers you are putting your brand reputation and product into their hands. You need to have rock solid guidelines to give them to make sure they don’t create something that clashes with, or worse, detracts from your brand equity.
It’s incredible how many influencers take “creative license” with the brand as if they were its new artistic director. Don’t let them do that, and if you see it, refer to the guidelines. Guidelines will save both your campaign and your ass, don’t treat them lightly.
You need to be crystal clear about what they post and when they post it. If they are doing a series for you they might want to post a teaser to show off to their audiences. If it’s a new product or campaign you need to make sure that they sign an NDA before they even see the brief. Because legally they are the owners of their social content, not you.
There you go! Did I miss something important? Add it in the comments and I’ll update the article. Thanks for reading!