Influencer marketing has exploded as we spend more time than ever scrolling on our screens. Savvy social media stars have taken their quirky format or fun hobby and weaponised it, with clever branding and a monetisation strategy that has turned bedroom wannabes into multi-millionaires.
And guess what? Businesses are ploughing money into these social superstars, riding the wave of success to put their product or service in front of the masses.
But, like anything that seems like an amazing opportunity, there are lots of pitfalls that go hand in hand with partnering with social media influencers who often operate in a Wild-West style fashion. Unwritten agreements, PayPal black holes and audience numbers that are definitely too good to be true can mean your influencer budget disappears into the ether.
Here’s how to do it properly.
1. Do your homework
If you aren’t social media savvy, it’s pointless trying to engage with an influencer who just isn’t relevant to your brand. You’ll need to find someone or something who / that resonates with your audience, but also cares enough about your brand or business to make engaging content about it.
Spend time researching what people are saying about both your brand and your competitor brands. Tools like Sprout Social’s social listening services or AnswerThePublic are invaluable when it comes to identifying the popular voices and influencer who are most likely going to be A) engaged with your brand already and B) have the right audience for your brand.
2. Make the approach yourself
There are literally tons of social media influencer managers and third parties out there who promise you great numbers and engagement for a fee. Don’t bother.
Dealing directly with an influencer means you can develop a proper professional relationship and give them a better understanding of why you want to work with them, what your product or service does and why the influencer’s audience should care.
If you’re literally paying for airtime through an agency, you’ll likely end up with a highly disposable piece of content that the influencer isn’t engaged with, and is pushing because the agency is paying for their time, not their actual influence.
3. Quality, not quantity
There are lots of influencers out there hunting for partners to work with. After all, that’s what makes up their salary. But some are more dishonest than others…
It has never been easier to set up a social media profile, buy followers, or use the many millions of bots that have plagued platforms like Twitter to the point where multi-billion dollar deals have collapsed (**ahem** Elon Musk).
Influencers who lead with their audience figures in the millions are probably not going to get you any results further down the line.
Influencers who talk about their highly engaged family of 5,000 hair product fanatics, backed up with real stats and insights, are the ones to invest in!
4. Get a contract, or at least something in writing
Sometimes engaging with an influencer involves sending a freebie or paying a small fee, usually via an online payment service, in exchange for a video, image or some sort of air time on whichever platform they are known for.
If that brings you results, fine.
But what happens if the next video blows up for all the wrong reasons, and the video underneath it is all about you?
Set some ground rules and again, research your influencer. Ideally, this will involve a written agreement for any content involving your goods and services, as well as binding agreement that protects your interests and intellectual property.
Most good influencers will be happy to work to these agreements, and it’ll filter out the influencers who look good at face value, but could cause problems further down the line.
5. Accept the risks
Working with social media influencers is still an unregulated industry built on short-term relationships and ad-hoc agreements. If this doesn’t fit your content or advertising strategy, then look at a different solution.
If you’re willing to invest in something that could go very well, or equally be a bit of a damp squib, then influencer marketing can be very lucrative.
Accept that you’re essentially handing over creative control to someone who puts their own spin on things, and that ultimately, you’re sometimes paying for someone else’s success, not your own. This could mean the influencer you invest in posts something that contradicts your brand further down the line, so make peace with that or don’t bother if it scares you!
Have you already tried influencer marketing? What were your experiences? Share your experiences on our social channels or send us a great story (good or bad) for an upcoming content piece on ‘the future influencer’.