Part-media relations, part-advertising, part-branded content, influencer marketing has proven to be a darling in brands’ marketing strategies. But not every marketer has mature influencer relationships and successful campaigns under their belt. Some marketers may feel like they’re stuck in the mud convincing leadership to “just try one” influencer campaign, or scrambling to allocate resources and justify spend, or are reluctantly admitting that they feel lost in the woods.
A common anxiety around influencer marketing comes down to one thing: control. The idea of putting your brand (creative, voice, tone … all that hard-earned equity!) into the virtual hands of a third party may be too much for some to stomach.
Sure, the risks are plentiful, as are the horror stories (nobody wants a celebrity disclosure fail). Even multinational sporting equipment brand Asics is treading lightly with micro-influencers because the brand needs to feel in control. But imagine what you could do with an influencer marketing strategy if you could wield the power and control your brand actually has in influencer marketing.
Consider the below points your pep talk to remind yourself who really has the control in an influencer relationship.
On starting out …
Influencer relations is a lot like media relations. Conduct research and vet accordingly before reaching out. If an influencer is ready to come to the table, it’s okay to talk first to share what you’re looking for. If you receive a “No thanks,” from an influencer, know it wasn’t a waste of time. Ask them if they’d recommend anyone who would be a better fit. Networking and referrals are part of the game.
Pro tip: Fill in this sentence to frame the expectation-setting conversation: “We want you to post X times over a period of X weeks across X channels.”
On compensation …
Work with your (almost minted) influencer to find a deal that works for all parties. Compensation packages can be a variety of monetary, in-kind, relationship-building or “this is our first time, teach us!” aspects. The most important thing is that your brand’s offer reflects the value exchanged, as it says a lot about your brand and can set the tone for an influencer relationship.
Pro tip: Don’t be shy about including your legal team in these conversations. Use contracts and keep receipts. Finally, make sure you are up-to-date on relevant regulations that affect your product or industry. Compliance is your responsibility, not the influencer’s.
On creative …
Brand-police marketers, rejoice! You can control the creative. Depending on what expectations are set, some influencers are fine receiving content and creative exactly how it needs to be shared on their end. Brands can definitely set the tone here in being as detailed and specific about brand guidelines as needed. For brands that trust influencers to generate content based on their experience with a product or brand, even requesting material review before posting is fair game. Just don’t let rigid “approved” content dilute your influencer’s authenticity with their curated audience.
Pro tip: For more fun, co-create the content with the influencer. Embrace new ideas. Experiment. In influencer marketing, collaboration yields authenticity, and authenticity yields success.
On metrics …
Unless it’s part of the contract, don’t rely on the influencer to educate you on what metrics you need to be looking at for success. Brands need to be on their game knowing what constitutes as vanity metrics for them and what metrics indicate results and ROI. Engagement will almost always win the day, but reach is also important. Ignore impressions. The rest is up to you.
Tailor the metrics to the campaign and be equipped to set up codes (if driving consumers to purchase) or UTM parameters to measure engagement and actions.
Pro tip: To brands, campaigns “end” at a certain point, as does the tracking of performance metrics of that campaign. But influencers’ content lives on (especially their blog content). Don’t forget about those “throwback” metrics, as they may continue to bring ROI long after the campaign ends.
Like most things that imply flexibility or giving up some control or power, influencer marketing may seem scary. Engaging with an influencer is merely the first step, but with some experimentation, organization and adherence to best practices, starting somewhere will likely get you somewhere better.