I remember the first time I saw a paid partnership post in my Instagram feed. My first reaction was confusion: this is fair to the consumers, this is how it is supposed to be, but this will likely ruin everything for the brands and influencers. Who would want to buy this, now that they know it is paid for? Then I looked closer at the “product” – it was a new collection of a famous fashion brand – and I realized I liked the way the blogger styled the brand’s clothes. She wrote about the brand’s quality, their corporate social responsibility and even the creative way they attracted her into business partnership. I was still trying to stick to my initial cynical position while scrolling through the blogger’s feed.
I started following her a long time ago when she wasn’t paid for wearing a fashion piece… or maybe she was, and I just never got a chance to confirm it. So I asked myself one question: has her Instagram page changed, apart from that paid partnership label? The answer is “no”. I still liked her online persona. I clicked on the link in her bio and looked up the brand’s new collection.
Authenticity and honesty. That is what you are looking for in a modern influencer marketing approach. Even taking a legal aspect of disclosure policies aside, any influencer marketing professional should take into consideration an increased consumer skepticism and a shift to user generated content which gives more power to the consumer. A new digital era demands transparency. In a way it is a more honest, genuine version of advertising. However, it is such only if you follow the rule: treat your influencers as long-term partners, not one-time participants in a business transaction.
Making friends and building a network. You may be tired of hearing the word “network” again, but yes, networking is vital in any business, communications especially. This may come as a surprise, but influencers are also people and like to be treated as such. You should start by engaging with an influencer: like their posts, comment on them and share them. Spend some time on your research: find out what your influencer’s interests are, read up on his/her work and look up posts about them. Focus on finding a thing you share, and then pitch your influencer by mentioning your common interests. Just as any other pitch, it should be catching, intriguing − it should stand out. Remember, your ultimate goal is possibly converting your influencer into loyal brand ambassador. Only if you customize your approach and build meaningful relationships, will you get an authentic representation of your brand by an influencer. And their audience will instantly feel that.
Speaking about the audience. The single biggest mistake many brands make is considering only the influencers with big following, often ignoring the proven fact that a smaller but dedicated audience is more valuable for your brand’s goals. Fake followers issue aside, it is a matter of reaching out to your potential clients, not the general public.
To do that, identify influencers who are relevant specifically to your industry: think about your brand’s target audience and compare it to the audience of the influencers in your field.
One more tip would be considering the right channel to reach out to your target audience. Usually, influencers are present on the majority of digital media platforms to increase their online presence. However, there is always one platform which they prefer, which works best for them, and which gained them the popularity your brand needs. What you should do is evaluate which platform aligns more with your industry and best displays your content – then search for the right platform influencer. Typically, business influencers prefer Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs, while consumer, lifestyle and fashion influencers stick to Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest.
Influencer marketing is not as easy as it may seem at first. It requires a lot of preparation, monitoring and tracking, evaluation and measuring. Is it worth the hustle? Well, if you do it right, you end up increasing your brand awareness, building trust with your customers, growing your social media following and ultimately, increasing revenue and making more profit. Yes, it is very much worth the hustle!
By Iryna Zheliasko