As influencer marketing grows in popularity, we’re also seeing it become increasingly commoditized.
We’re seeing marketplaces auctioning off influencers with the largest following to the highest bidder. And networks “matching” brands with any influencer they have available.
This commoditization eliminates the human matchmaking element. Taking away the smart brand match detracts from the meaningful engagement that influencer marketing can create.
This over-emphasis on making influencer marketing a ‘scalable’ tactic is resulting in spammy posts. Like the examples we’ve seen from Scott Disick…
You can avoid these pitfalls and find authentic success with your influencer marketing efforts by following some simple strategies.
1) Do it for the right reasons
The first step is to make sure that you’re entering the influencer marketing world for the right reasons.
Too many brands jump into influencer marketing because of the trend’s popularity. Influencer marketing’s purpose should be authentic storytelling. Trying to force an influencer program to support metrics like direct sales or app downloads will produce spammy content and leave you dissatisfied.
If you’re considering working with influencers, focus on how they can tell your brand’s story in a meaningful way.
2) Define the correct influencer personas
The first and most important step to any campaign is determining the ideal influencer personas. This means defining who is the right type of person to represent your brand. Finding the right influencer persona means that you can target the correct audience.
The influencer campaign supporting SpaghettiO’s 50th Anniversary and Star Wars themed cans are both great examples of strong persona development.
SpaghettiOs knew that their product was a childhood favorite and a top choice for busy moms everywhere, so they chose moms and dads on Instagram who posted frequently with their families to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this beloved childhood snack.
Additionally, they used influencers who loved Sci-Fi, comic books, and video games to help promote the launch of their special edition Star Wars cans. The resulting content perfectly captures the fun spirit of the brand and put the brand in front of the most relevant audiences.
3) Consider micro-influencers
When you’re evaluating what type of influencer is right for your program, don’t overlook micro-influencers.
Too often, brands become hyper-focused on an influencer’s following. However, the audience size of these individuals is of secondary importance to the authenticity of the match they provide for your program.
Research finds that “while the influencers with a large following are useful, greater loyalty is found with the mid-grade influencers who have a smaller network of followers, allowing for relationship building.”
Think of it this way: while you may follow a celebrity because you admire their lifestyle, you know that cannot realistically achieve that lifestyle. But, if you follow a mommy-grammer in another city, you could very well mimic her DIY lamp, arrange your furniture the way that she does, or serve your kids the same brand of juice she recommends.
In many ways her recommendation is more valuable than the celebrity’s.
4) Know how to recruit influencers
Regardless of the size or type of influencers that you’re trying to pull, you need to know how to properly recruit them into your program. Influencers field many brand pitches per day, so what should make them interested in yours?
When reaching out to the influencer to recruit them onto your program, personalize the communication showing familiarity of their work. Approach them with the same enthusiasm as two friends doing business together. Being interested in their content and what they can create for your campaign will benefit you throughout the program.
Consider utilizing a partner for this recruitment because maintaining these types of personal relationships isn’t easy. By trusting a partner who has already established these relationships, you can expedite the recruiting process and set yourself up with a better response rate.
Influencers like Nathan Ochoa say that they like to work through influencer marketing partners because it provides, “a platform where creators and brands can come together on an equal playing field without one or the other being taken advantage of.”
Influencer marketing partners can represent both sides of the equation—like a realtor representing the buying and selling parties for a property. A third party partner can mediate expectations and make sure that everyone has a fruitful partnership.
The creator is able to gain the creative control they want, and the brand can get access to that audience while ensuring that the program is built on an authentic match.
5) Trust the influencer to tell your story
Influencer marketing is effective because of the influencer’s ability to communicate your brand message to their audience. But that effective messaging requires education. There are two things that brand marketers must do to empower creators to produce the best content possible.
- Step one is establishing content guidelines for the influencer. This means providing brand education so they know how to talk about your brand properly and dictating clear, reasonable content expectations with creative guidance.
- Step two is letting go of the reigns and giving them creative liberty. These individuals have built their audiences by posting in their particular styles. They know what content will resonate with their audiences and how to best interact with them. If you have done your job well when setting up a brand match, then you should trust their ability to interpret your brand’s message.
6) Use proper disclosure
It is absolutely vital to educate your influencers on how you would like them to disclose their partnership with your brand. There have been plenty of stories lately regarding the FTC cracking down on influencers and brands who aren’t following these rules. Don’t put yourself on the hit list.
Many brands, either out of ignorance or arrogance, neglect to include the proper disclosures required by the FTC in their influencer marketing posts. But the FTC has very clear rules to follow. The main question to ask yourself is “is it very clear that the influencer is being paid for this post?”
The FTC has recently announced that they’ll be taking these issues more seriously, we suggest you do too.
7) Cultivate a relationship
It can be difficult to cultivate meaningful relationships in any space, but especially in the social world. That’s why brands want to borrow on the success of influencers, they know how to do it and they do it well.
But often, brands fail to engage with their influencers properly. Brands who approach influencers as creative collaborators and equals end up with better content.
Think of influencers as creative professionals and solicit their input on your projects. When influencers feel valued and engaged with brands, they will create better, more authentic content. They will also be inclined to participate in future campaigns.
There are many brands that have found success with influencer marketing, which has led to an explosion in its adoption. More and more marketers are turning to this method to connect with their audiences. But as more people enter this field, it’s important to maintain the human element that makes it successful.
Build and maintain relationships with the influencers so that they can do the same for your brand.
Brian Zuercher is the CEO & Founder of SEEN and a contributor to SEW.