The use of influencers as a promotional channel is not appropriate for every brand, but for those brands that suit this kind of marketing strategy - a great relationship with a carefully selected influencer can be as good as gold.
Influencers - individuals who have a significantly large or influential social media audience, who leverage that relationship financially by taking payment from brands to promote their products online - have increasingly become an important media consideration for marketers and brand managers.
As traditional media channels continue to self-destruct (mainly due to their own arrogance and reluctance to reinvent themselves as times change), marketers are on the search for effective alternatives; and not much beats the heartfelt endorsement of an individual with influence, who carries credibility with their followers.
Influencer marketing works very well for lifestyle brands, consumer products and travel and hospitality offerings, but they are certainly not a silver bullet.
Unlike more traditional forms of media - the use of influencers takes more work and the quality of the outcomes often depends on the quality of the relationship with the influencers that you select.
With this in mind - here are a few tips as to how you can better work with influencers in your ongoing brand promotion efforts:
- Build long-term relationships | Working with influencers yields better results when you commit to building a long-term relationship with them. In this way they get to understand your objectives and can make often very valuable contributions as to how they can be more effective as a part of that partnership. It a slow and steady thing rather than a wham-bam affair.
- Be clear as to what you want | Even though working with influencers is far more personal that simply buying media from a media shop, make sure that you are very clear and specific as to what success of every campaign looks like to you (the marketer). There is zero space for ambiguity here; everyone should have no doubt as to what is required and how the results are to be measured.
- Put contracts in place | Even if it's just a MOD, there's huge value in putting an agreement down on paper; as well as how things will be resolved if there is a dispute. Bear in mind that the 'influencer industry' is not regulated and every individual that you work with will vary in their level of professionalism. Rather than letting things play out at will, take control of the relationship by setting up guardrails via a contract that protects everyone involved.
- Work with an agency | If you are looking to formalise things even more - consider working through an agency that can manage the relationship with a group of influencers on your behalf. Working with loads of strong personalities may feel a bit like herding cats, so the services of a single agency might not be such a bad idea if this is something that you plan to formalise.
- Work with people that genuinely love your brand | Influencer marketing works because it's believable. So if you are managing the Sunlight Liquid brand - don't then hire Jeannie D to promote your brand to her Instagram followers; nobody is going to buy that. Take time to find an authentic fit that is going to resonate with people. If that's not possible - then don't even bother.
For the right brand - working with the right influencer can literally be like pouring lighter fluid on your sales graph. It does however take time, insights, a great relationship and honesty.
But overall - it's most certainly well worth the effort to get it right for all parties.