Spoiler alert: the game has changed.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that if you’re a marketer, and you’re working and living in 2018, you have at some stage engaged in influencer marketing.
Welcome also to a world where our brains (and credit cards) have somehow calculated that X + Y = Z, where X is the lipstick shade Blake Lively wears, Y is me buying this said shade and brand of lipstick and Z is the rather erroneous conclusion that the two events will somehow make me become Blake Lively.
I think we’re all drunk/delusional/both.
Jokes (and sarcasm, #sorrynotsorry) aside, influencer marketing is a bit of a gold mine for marketers. It’s place being firmly entrenched in marketing plans across the world (a whopping 75% of us plan to spend more on influencers this year), mostly because it’s super valuable and cost effective way of building a brand in 2018 – provided (like owning a Gremlin), you follow just a few simple rules of engagement.
(I think it’s ok if you feed influencers after midnight and they seem to be ok if they get wet, just incase anyone was wondering…)
One | Know thy worth.
I think I can count on one hand the number of peers that I have ever spoken to who are able to hand-on-their-heart say that they have their influencer ROI sorted. Most of us (including me) kinda just muddle through it, trying to find some sales and some BS brand health measure that will allow us to put some green boxes on the campaign results powerpoint deck.
Why? Because we sorta don’t really know what we’re after and truthfully, we’re kinda all just hoping that engaging some influencers will equal this magical trifecta of MORE traffic, MORE sales, MORE people who love us!! (That’s how it works, yeah?)
Let’s get one very important point (VIP, if you will) off the table very right now. Influencers are like jeans. Not one style or size is gonna look good on everyone.
Before you even think of approaching your favourite member of the glossy possy, it’s critical to know exactly what you’re ordering. Sales? Branding? Traffic? Exposure? Bums on seats at your upcoming event/launch?
Because a fail to plan is a plan to fail, and I’ve literally just become my boss RN.
Set your goals, people. This should form the basis of your ‘yes/no’ check list. And here’s a novel concept – put the aforementioned goal in your intro email and ask outright if it’s something they would be able to support and for examples of how they’ve performed in the past? You know, like you would to any other media partner and this isn’t sorcery, I promise.
Literally, there is no point getting shirty when you’ve literally just thrown a cheque and a few products at your influencer of the mo, and somehow they haven’t managed to use this to decipher your brand vision and goals…
Two | Micro-influencers are the new black.
Not a newbie, but a very important-ie. Bigger is not always better.
The micro ‘fluencer has been around for awhile, and they are basically the best bang for your buck – in my very humble opinion – particularly if you’re new to the game or just working to a smallerish budget.
There’s varying degrees of what technically classifies as a micro influencer, but it’s generally accepted that have to be a little more niche (eg, they look at bargain fashion, instead of just being a broad fash blogger), and stay under 100k followers.
What makes these guys such great value? (excellent question, btw, you and I are going to be great friends…)
It’s their cut through power. They’re at that critical tipping point of still being relevant and accessible to their audience, while still having mass reach. Fans still comment, because unlike those stars with seven figures of fame, there’s a very real chance that you’ll get a reply. Also, they’re still dedicated to their craft. There’s something a little more genuine and ‘real’ about the creator who isn’t completely corrupted by the cheque book – who is still the majority doing it for love.
Studies have shown that engagement and attention tends to flatten after that critical 100k mark, and let’s be real – the budget to get them on board most certainly does not.
You may get more eyeballs, but they won’t be eyeballs that care.
(Want to know more? My old work mate Jules Lund is super smart – in fact he created a whole bloody business around the micro influencer before micro influencing was even a ‘thing’. Check out his wisdom here…)
Three | Partnerships > Paid Promos.
Every. Single. Time.
We’ve all seen it, lol-ed at it and shared it. (While shaking our heads and muttering ‘for serial, like, actually how does that even happen’, another lol.) The accidental copy and paste that occurs when a couldn’t really care less so long as the cheque clears insta-star literally control-c and control-v’s the digi manager’s instructions.
(we all remember this disaster…the campaign, not the human, just to be clear.)
How does this happen? Well, for one, carelessness. And secondly – because the influencer just does not give a damn. They’re not engaged. They’ve been paid to put this here and it could not scream THIS IS AN AD any harder if it tried.
Pro tip: This is not ‘influencer marketing’.
The latest internet rules dictate that we should most definitely be disclosing when a cash for comment sitch is in progress – but it doesn’t mean that we should be treating our chosen insta-famous like a Times Square billboard.
I know, I know. You’ve got a carefully curated campaign tag line that you paid some well dressed Creative Director far too much of your hard earned to develop, and some witty AF hashtags that it’s absolutely essential that they mention, right?
Well, kinda maybe not. When you think about it, isn’t paying a personality – who you’ve handpicked due to their tone, style and ability to engage with their audience – a shedload of cash to regurgitate exactly the tone and style you’re dictating, kinda missing the point? (And let’s be real, you’re gonna be spamming that campaign every-the-heck-where on MRECs thanks to your overblown digital media buy anyway, so there’s really no danger anyone’s gonna miss it…)
Influencers are an extension of your brand’s story. Not the brand story itself.
(That’s what you’re there for, marketing your little butt off.)
Brief them. Let them get involved, bring ideas to the table, give it a voice and style that suits their personality and – more importantly – will resonate with their carefully built followers. Give them creative control – steer the ship, but allow them to colour in the picture with whatever crayon they desire. (My word, that’s way more analogies than is necessary in the one paragraph…)
Because at the end of the day – that’s what you’re paying for. Story telling, not just ‘telling’.
Are you using influencers to market your brand?