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Should Your Brand Work With An Influencer?

Should Your Brand Work With An Influencer?

Marketers should explore working with Influencers, just like any opportunity, but always keeping the best interests of their customers top of mind.

They might never call themselves an influencer. They might not even like the word, and what it suggests about their work. And yet there are people who have demonstrated such a degree of mastery in how they use social media that there’s no more accurate way to describe the value they can offer to your brand.

Influencers are really creators. They’re often people who have regular day jobs, with little to no background in traditional marketing practices.

What they have instead is a particular gift for storytelling, whether it’s through short written posts on Twitter, images and video on Instagram or a mixture of all three on LinkedIn, Facebook or even TikTok.

The content they create attracts a huge following on social — or at least the kind of engagement among a critical mass that a brand might want to target with its products and services.

Because they usually start by creating content out of a genuine passion and interest in their subject matter — which can range from fashion to food to a business to business (B2B) niche — these people earn the trust and loyalty of their audience. So when they recommend a product, or use it themselves, their followers pay attention.

Although they may not come out and directly sell on behalf of a brand, in other words, they might shift the thinking of your products. That’s why they’re called influencers.

Before social media, the primary group dubbed influencers were journalists. Like those on Facebook and Instagram, people writing for newspapers and magazines have considerable reach into the wider world. That’s the same thing brands want with modern-day influencers.

This isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds, however. Working with influencers is not the same as paying an ad agency to create content on your behalf. It’s not traditional public relations, either, where you can simply pitch someone to talk about your products and services for free.

Here’s what you should know about influencer marketing before you dive in any deeper:

Compensation (of some kind) is the norm

The first question for most marketers when they hear about influencers is, “What do they charge?” Unfortunately, there’s no consistent answer. A lot will depend on the size of the influencer’s following, whether they have a history of charging for posts in the past, and how extensive your collaboration will be.

Some influencers with smaller audiences may be willing to partner with a brand in exchange for getting free products and services. These “in kind” arrangements are different from campaigns where an influencer agrees to create one or more posts tagged with the brand’s account, unique hashtag or both.

There are already many agencies and apps that focus exclusively on recruiting and representing creators for influencer marketing work, but many still operate entirely independently. Be prepared to approach each partnership a little differently.

It’s a collab, not a quest for complete creative control

A brand might have a specific idea of what they’d like an influencer’s content to look like, from the lighting used in a photo to the words that get published in a post. The creator might have entirely different ideas — and at the end of the day, it’s their account.

It’s better to treat these relationships like the partnerships they really are. Rather than dictating a creative brief, treat the creator as the premium representative of your customer audience that they really are. Get them excited about your product, service or campaign! Ask for their feedback and incorporate their ideas. You can have some guidelines, of course, but aim for flexibility and respect the trust they have established with their followers.

Transparency is non-negotiable

Customers browsing through social media for ideas and inspiration deserve your honesty. It might be great if a content creator makes mention of your products and services without any formal relationship with you (and that does happen occasionally!) but when you’re running an influencer marketing campaign, it has to be labeled as such.

That often means including a hashtag that establishes the nature of a specific post. This can be as simple as “#ad” to a something like “#XYZCorpPartner.”

Some influencers will go the extra step to make clear whether they are actually getting paid for the content they create, or are just getting products in kind.

Bear in mind that the social media platforms on which this content is published are increasingly demanding transparency as part of their usage guidelines. Better to be as above-board as you can, and to encourage the creators you work with to do the same.

Influencer marketing is never the only marketing you should do

Although collaborating with creators on content that aligns with your brand, it’s really just one tactic among many to grow your business among your target customers.

Think about how you might run a more traditional ad campaign alongside your influencer marketing campaign, for example.

You might host an event (even if it’s a virtual one) that will create an immersive experience for your customers. Creators involved in your influencer marketing campaign could be invited to these too.

There is also content you can create and promote through your own media channels. This includes posts on your blog, videos on your YouTube channel and even your own podcast series (though again, you could feature content creators from your influencer marketing campaign as guests).

Influencer marketing is by no means a fad. It’s probably going to last as long as people create great content on social media. Marketers should explore it as they could every opportunity, but always keeping the best interests of their customers top of mind. That’s the best way to make sure your brand continues to be influential, too.

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