Influencer marketing has become an increasingly popular tool for companies to utilize in their brand campaigns. It can help strengthen a brand’s audience reach, as well as boost awareness and exposure around its products. If done properly, influencer marketing can clearly set one brand apart from other brands within its space. However, that is only if it is done properly!
Before starting your influencer strategy, you’ll have to find the right influencer fit. We recommend finding influencers whose personas are in-line with your brand. If you are trying to sell organic makeup that comes in biodegradable packaging, LeBron James might not be the right persona you are looking to promote your products. Also, something to remember is that influencers are no longer just traditional celebrities. The Kardashians are not the key to getting your product the attention it deserves. What is important is finding the right influencer with a large organic following in the industry in which you are looking to thrive. Select an influencer who has knowledge about this space as well, which helps create a more authentic user experience.
It is also smart to analyze the amount of sponsored content the influencer you choose has on their social media outlets. You will want to choose a person who is able to be “real” and who has established a connection with their audience. If they have worked with other brands in the past, check on the status of those campaigns. Were they successful? Why or why not? This can help your marketing team see where they may further aid the influencer and what tools they could benefit from implementing from your team. Look into the influencer campaigns of other brands to see what is working for them.
While knowing what to do with influencer marketing campaigns can be incredibly valuable, knowing what not to do can be just as important.
This information can help your team avoid serious mistakes that have the potential to degrade the outcome of your marketing campaign. Aside from navigating influencer pods, it’s important to have some other tools for selecting influencers. Once you have selected the ideal person(s), keep in mind these top five no-no’s to help set your company up for success.
1. Non-disclosure Regulations
According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, every sponsored partnership must include a disclosure notifying its audience that the post is a result of a collaboration. You might be asking yourself, why?
Picture this scenario: You’re grabbing breakfast with a friend and they are singing the praises of a new reusable mug they are filling up with coffee. You’ve also seen them post about the mug on their Instagram and Facebook pages. “It keeps my coffee hot for hours, I can easily wash it in the dishwasher, and you can bring it on-the-go!”
Before you know it, you find yourself on the company’s website having added the product to your online shopping cart. What you may not have realized is that your friend is actually an influencer for this company. They failed to mention that they were compensated in some form, whether it may be free product or monetary compensation, in exchange for their endorsement. If you knew that your friend was getting compensated for promoting the mug, would it have change your mind about buying it? Does it make their testimonial less authentic?
Not including a sponsored disclosure within your post is a big no-no in the eyes of the FTC, which requires that all sponsored partnerships are clearly disclosed to all viewers of the content. If the company is running their influencer strategy properly and building campaign-based partnerships with influencers, the content will be smoothly incorporated into the influencer’s feed on a regular basis, making it seem less promotional even though they are including a sponsored disclosure.
Be sure to clearly communicate the disclosure regulations and the FTC’s guidelines with every influencer you partner with. Failure to comply with these regulations can land your company in trouble with the FTC. It is best to keep on the up-and-up with your marketing strategy, which in the long-run will actually save face with your customers too.
2. Inauthentic Unboxing Videos
The influencer marketing industry has been buzzing with whether or not influencers should be conducting unboxing videos – the craze of influencers unboxing goods on camera for their audience to see. As the New York Times describes it, “Unboxing is not so much a craze anymore as a genre — a manifestation of a new world of consumer expression…perhaps the appeal of an unboxing video has no practical relationship to consumerism, that its satisfactions are more mysteriously folded into our emotional response system.”
There is a right way and a wrong way to run a viral unboxing campaign and, if done accurately, you will be able to appeal to your customers’ emotional response system. The right way would include an authentic endorsement from an influencer who is able to introduce the product and provide some background behind the product. Following this, it is best if the influencer is able to show the product in use or as a standalone item. An unboxing video gone wrong is one in which the influencer creates a “haul” video, meaning that they are unboxing a variety of items that they have recently received. This is a waste of your company’s monetary resources. Remember, you are the one paying the influencer, so you, therefore, have a say about how they handle your product. It is imperative that authenticity is present, but that doesn’t mean you cannot specify how you want your unboxing video to be positioned.
3. Tight Timelines
Another way influencer marketing campaigns can surely fail is expecting too much from the influencer. If you are partnering with an influencer and send them free product, asking them to post on their social accounts the day after the product was delivered is very unrealistic. They are likely working with other brands, as well as producing their own content, and possibly working an additional full-time job.
Make sure your expectations are clear and establish a timeline so you both are on the same page about when the sponsored content is expected to be live. Simply Measured writes that it is important not to lose patience with your influencer or limit their creativity. The result will be rushed, inauthentic content that your target audience will see right through. A general rule of thumb is to allow the influencer up to 14 days to review the product and photograph content to share, that way the influencer doesn’t feel rushed and is able to create the content that will resonate best with his or her audience.
4. Multiple Revisions to Captions
Spending time revising captions is simply a waste of time. Dedicating creative time and budget to this task is not worth your efforts. What’s important is providing clear guidelines for your influencer to put into practice. These guidelines should include the relevant hashtags, tags, brand messaging, links, and disclosures that you want your influencer to be sure to utilize. Following these guidelines, the influencer is able to create their own authentic testimonial within their caption, without coming off as too “salesy.”
Captions can be extremely time-consuming for the influencer to post. If writing is not in their skill set, the caption could ultimately be holding them back from getting that content up sooner. Pushing back a posting date is rarely beneficial to the company’s interests. A better way is to provide the guidelines for the influencer and leave the rest of the caption up to their best judgement.
5. Justifying Your Negotiation of Sponsored Rates with a Shortcoming of the Influencer
Budget is always something considered when promoting a product. When reaching out to a potential influencer, it is equally important. You don’t want to spend your entire budget for the campaign just on the influencer. However, if they get back to you with a sponsored rate that is higher than expected, don’t speak down to them or justify a lower rate with the size of their following or engagement. It is important to remember that you reached out to them for a partnership collaboration. They take pride in the audience they have cultivated and carefully thought about the rate they are requesting.
So, how do you tackle the tricky topic of payment? First, if they’re asking more than you can afford, simply share that your budget cannot accommodate their requested rate. Second, try to counter their offer and see if they are willing to come down a bit. Entrepreneur.com poses another option: see if the influencer would be willing to be part of a long-term sponsored content plan. This will often be less expensive for the company as opposed to a-la-carte pricing, but it is better for the influencer since it guarantees a specific amount of income over a longer period of time. However, if they will not negotiate with you, leave the conversation on positive terms. Let them know that you would like to keep the conversation open for any future opportunities you may have with higher budgets.
Crafting a marketing campaign that implements influencer marketing best practices and avoids the five “no-no’s” listed above can help develop your company’s marketing plan and reach a larger target audience. While there are no guarantees with any strategy, using influencer marketing can produce a more effective campaign that leads to higher ROI and a connection with your target audience that will feel authentic and genuine.