I’m in a few female business networking groups and one topic I often see pop up is influencers: should they work with them, is it worth it, and how should they get started?
Influencers can be quite a controversial topic; lots of people want to be one (getting paid to post pictures on instagram – who doesn’t want that?) but also lot’s of other people hate them too. Maybe hate is too much of a strong word, but they’re increasingly portrayed quite negatively.
As someone who both runs my own blog and has worked as an Influencer Manager for a company, personally I hate the term “influencer”. I think both my view, and the negative portrayal and association the media and other people have stems back to people just wanting to be famous for the sake of being famous…people who are just wanting to be “influencers” without having any actual reason to be influential or provide value.
So let’s dive into Influencer marketing, and what you need to know.
Should your brand work with Influencers?
It depends. What are you wanting to achieve? Before you start thinking about Influencer Marketing you should have a full brand, marketing and social media strategy in place. And no, I don’t just mean – get more clients and sell more products (thought obviously this is the end goal).
Building Awareness and Trust
What are you trying to achieve from your current campaign? If you’re just launching a product for example, then to start with you’re going to want to build both awareness and trust. Consider the consumer funnel below. If you’re not aware of this marketing principal, it’s basically the consumer thought process and journey before finally making a purchase.
Influencer Marketing is great for the very first part of the funnel, and it’s important to realise this doesn’t always translate directly into sales straight away. To maximise the impact of this strategy then it’s important to select the right people/accounts for your brand, which I’ll talk about more in a little bit.
Another great reason for working with Influencers is high quality content. If you have a small, or even solo team, then it’s likely that you don’t have the skills for a full range of professional brand images including both flatlays and models. Influencers and content creators are perfect for creating both beautifully styled and unique images you can use on your social media and website (if part of the agreement terms of course). Having shots with a range of people showing or using your products too also helps to build trust, which is especially important for online sales.
Word of Mouth Marketing
Word of Mouth Marketing is one of the most impactful and powerful forms of marketing. As we’re bombarded with an insane amount of ads and products everyday though the media we consume, and even outside, it’s easy for brands to get lost in the noise. I know personally, and I’m sure you’re the same, that I’m a lot more likely to trust recommendations from friends and family than I am some random brand I’ve never heard of telling me why I should buy their products. This is also why genuine and honest reviews are so important for your brand too.
I think originally Influencer Marketing did so well because it really captured the spirit of WOMM, but as it’s become more widespread and well known the effect has worn off. However, this is though still the outcome most people are wanting to achieve straight away when working with influencers, and they can then get frustrated when they don’t see results straight away. In some cases, using influencers still does work this way and this again depends both on your brand and the people or accounts you choose to work with.
Looking at the full consumer funnel and the post purchase steps, the retention and advocacy (aka WOMM) is what you eventually want to achieve from your customers in general and should be part of your wider marketing strategy. Influencers can also help to push to this stage and “influence” other people to share similar photos and further promote your brand. A great example of this is Frank Body and their shower scrub photos, and also products like teeth whitening brands with people showing off themselves using the product and face masks too.
So, with these factors considered if you’ve decided that Influencer Marketing should be part of your marketing strategy, then how should you get started?
How to work with influencers:
So as mentioned above, you need to have clear expectations before starting an Influencer Marketing campaign, and make sure it’s also part of an overall brand strategy.
Work out a campaign strategy
To start with, before even finding people to promote your brand, you need to write out your strategy for the campaign including things such as:
- What are your brand values and aesthetics that you also want people to portray?
- What are your overall objectives from this particular campaign?
- What are the deliverables required from each influencer (eg minimum 1 permanent post plus 1 story post)
- What is the timeframe you wish to have this completed by?
- What is your budget?
Working out how much to pay influencers
For the budget part of your strategy it’s important to work out from the beginning if you are going to look for contra arrangements (product in exchange for a post, no additional payment required) or paid posts, or a mixture of both.
It’s important to remember that quality influencers and content creators should be paid for their time. If they’re worth working with, then they’re worth paying for their work too. It takes a lot of time and effort to grow a following and engaged audience, and also to produce beautiful photos and shots to use for content.
Here’s a good ballpoint guide from The Right.Fit (who I’ll talk more about later), but it’s important to remember that it’s only a guide, and fees really will vary.
Write a detailed campaign brief
Once you’ve worked out your campaign objectives, the next step is to refine these details into a full influencer brief. This part is a crucial step in a successful campaign; be specific as possible and outline all of the details of everything required and ideally include reference shots too. If you’re after specific shots or videos, make sure you explicitly include the details of these. The clearer you can be in your communication and expectations, the less chance there is of miscommunication or them not delivering on the original agreement.
Which leads us to the next step…influencer contracts
Having clear guidelines for your expectations is great, but even better is to also include a proper Influencer Agreement Contract. Along with lots of questions in the groups about how to work with Influencers, there’s so many posts or responses to these topics of people who have issues with influencers not delivering what was promised, taking ages to post or simply going ghost and not delivering at all. Even if you have a contra agreement (product in exchange for post, no additional payment included) this is also great to have to ensure both parties are happy with the result.
Here’s one I recommend from Australian company Foundd Legal: Influencer Agreement Contract Template
Once you’ve worked out what you want to achieve and the type of content you want, then it’s time to find some accounts to work with. There’s no quick or easy way of doing this – you need to take the time to put in the groundwork to select the right people for your brand. As with anything, the time you put in will pay off; and your selection process is crucial for the success of your campaign.
Some things to look out for include:
- Does their brand/aesthetic/messaging/tone of voice suit yours?
- Do they have a genuine and engaged following? (this can be more important simply than their number of followers)
- Do they have real followers?
- Does their audience match your target market? (eg are their followers mainly creepy men, or actually people who will want to buy your product)
- Do they produce quality content and images?
- Do they constantly promote products (not ideal), or actually provide value?
Different types of influencers
It’s also important to match the style of influencer to your campaign goals. Here’s a quick run down of some different types, and how they might suit your goals:
Generally have a smaller following, but can have higher engagement rates and be more interactive with their community which leads to greater trust and eventually conversions. This group will have lower rates, and also be happier with contra deals.
By this term I mean people with an actual written blog (I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a snob here when it comes to people using this term simply with their instagram feed). They are great to use as part of an SEO strategy too, for building backlinks and also posting reviews which people may look up when deciding to buy your product. Bloggers may have slightly higher rates, due to the additional time and value for full length written posts.
Youtube and video content creators
In the same way that bloggers are great for producing searchable reviews, youtubers are great for this too. If this is part of your strategy then it’s a good idea to use both; as some people like to get information from reading and other prefer video reviews. Video content is also great for including in brand social media videos. If you’re wanting to use this then I recommend looking for influencers who already produce video content and reviews, and also making sure it’s clear in the agreement that you will use their content in your ads. Quality videos take time to film and produce, so expect to pay more for video content, especially if you’re wanting to use footage in your own ads.
Large scale influencers
The general type people think of with the term “influencers”. They’re great for wide scale awareness, but sometimes can lack on the trust and engagement part. Using a mixture of micro influencers and those with a larger following is a good idea.
Where to find influencers:
This is where the leg work comes in. Spend time looking on social media and online to find people who match your brand. Look at similar brands, people who are following similar products to yours and take your time to put in the work.
There are also agencies and services you can use. The Right Fit is great for finding and working with talent, and also provides an extra level of protection as the whole agreement is conducted and paid for through their platform. You’ll still need to do the work to find the right people, and do all of the relevant checks.
Tribe is another great company to consider. Rather than finding people yourself, you submit your brief and influencers pitch to work with you.
Connecting with influencers, and forming an agreement:
Finally, once you’ve found who you want to work with I recommend reaching out via email. It’s more professional, easier to keep track of and you’re also covered with an email trail.
Once you’ve reached out with your now strategically written campaign objectives, they will then respond with their rates. In this initial stage you might also want to request any stats or a media kit from them, but if you’ve done your homework then you may not need to worry about this. If they’re interested, then it’s a good time to send the full campaign brief and contract before final acceptance, if you’re both happy with the terms and agreements. This phase is also a great way of weeding out potentially difficult people to work with. If they take ages to respond, or just generally seem like they’re going to be high maintenance to work with then chances are you’re going to keep having problems too.
As a brand you’ll most likely receive lots of DMs and emails from aspiring people wanting to work with you and promote your products, and generally they reach out to lots of accounts, don’t even follow or care about your brand and are just a waste of time. In this cases I suggest politely responding and saying you’re not looking for new accounts to work with right now or just being honest and telling them that you’re looking for people already engaged with (and following your brand), who match your brand, and who may also have a larger and more engaged following – there’s nothing wrong with honest and constructive feedback when it’s done nicely!
Final thoughts and advice:
So as I’ve discussed, Influencers can be seen quite negatively, but it all comes down to your campaign goals and objectives, finding the right people to work with and being clear in your communication of what’s involved.
On the flipside, it’s important to remember that influencers and content creators put a lot of time and effort into the work they create, but also growing their following and the audience you’re trying to reach. When you compare rates to professional photography packages or traditional forms of advertising, most rates are actually quite reasonable in what they provide.
If you feel like you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still not getting results then it might come down to the cold hard fact that your brand, products or something along the line is just a little bit cr*p! If this is the case, then it’s time to really look at your own brand strategy, social media, photography, website and all that jazz, and perhaps have a rethink.
How can we help?
As you can see, influencer campaigns can be a lot of work, but they have a lot of benefits too when run properly. If this is something you don’t have time for, or you’d like some professional help, then we offer an influencer campaign management service for a minimum of 4 weeks. If you’d also like help with your overall branding, marketing or social media strategy, then this is something we can help with too. Reach out via email to email@example.com or via our contact page to get started.