This is a guest post from Rick Guttridge, managing director of Smoking Gun.
For most PR and marketing professionals, influencer marketing is a hot topic of conversation and debate. But now, thanks to new governing regulations and documentaries such as The American Meme and Fyre, the average consumer is fully aware of the power of influencers.
Growing awareness means more brands are recruiting influencers to promote their products and services than ever before. And like most things in life, as popularity grows, we see examples of how it should, and shouldn’t, be done.
How can PRs avoid the pitfalls for their clients and make sure their influencer marketing campaigns have impact? Here are my top dos and don’ts when it comes to influencer marketing.
1. Don’t do it for the sake of doing it
We hear so many of our clients saying they want to embark on an influencer campaign because everyone else is. This is not a reason to do it. An influencer marketing campaign needs clear objectives and an understanding of the impact you’re wanting to make for the brand. Without this, there’ll be no strategy, and therefore little success.
2. Don’t focus on follower numbers
It’s tempting to think bigger is better, but when it comes to influencer marketing this isn’t the case. Although we are seeing more guidelines emerging for this marketing function, it is still unregulated in some areas – such as buying followers. When identifying influencers to work with, it is essential that you look at engagement and audience profiles. Even if the influencer only has 4,000 followers, they could be a highly-engaged group that your client wants to target. Meaning it will be a more impactful, and probably cost effective, approach.
3. Don’t be scared to ask the influencer’s advice
Influencers are businesses in their own right. They know how their audience behave, they know what posts have performed well and the type of content that has impact. When working with an influencer, ask their advice and trust their guidance – they want the partnership to be successful just as much as you do. Having an open and honest dialogue about your objectives will mean the influencer can guide you on how to achieve this.
4. Don’t forget to measure success
Or lack of. Especially, if this is your first time entering into the world of influencer marketing – everything is a lesson. By having clear objectives in place from the start, you will be able to measure against these to see how successful the activity has been, and what needs to change in the future. Low level micro-influencers, who are typically most cost effective, are ideal if you are taking a ‘test and learn’ approach.
5. Don’t always be product-focused
Your client’s brand is based on more than just the product they sell. Think about how you want the audience to think and feel about a brand and use this to guide your influencer marketing content, otherwise you could just end up with smiling selfies with your product in-shot. Influencers share their lives with their followers, so think about how the product can fit into this in a natural way.
1. Do think long-term
One-off posts can have some impact and can help to raise awareness of your brand. But as we know, awareness doesn’t always equal sales. In this current landscape, where consumers are bombarded with more advertising messages than ever before, simply knowing a brand exists isn’t going to drive them to part with their cash. Long-term partnerships with influencers allow brands to build relationships with an audience and communicate the USPs effectively over a long period of time. If an influencer perfectly fits with your client’s brand, consider working with them long-term to create a true advocate.
2. Do use data
Influencer marketing isn’t a dark art; it’s a data-driven specialism. You can effectively tailor the campaign for maximum impact by using data that is available to you. An in-depth understanding of how the target audience behaves online means you can mirror this; for example, if you are targeting new mums, have you considered requesting your influencer partner posts in the middle of the night, when they’ll no doubt be awake with the baby?
3. Do consider it from the start
One of the biggest errors brands can make is simply tagging influencer marketing activity at the end of a campaign. With the way that consumers now behave online, it’s essential that influencer marketing is considered at the start of campaign planning. For example, Simply Be’s ‘New Icon’ campaign had plus-size fashion influencers post on its channels on the day the print advertising went live – meaning that its audience was reached with the campaign messaging at various touch points – giving it more impact.
4. Do follow your competitors
It’s not just your own social posts and influencer marketing that you can learn from. Keep a close eye on what your client’s competitors are doing, who they’re working with and what is working for them. I’m not suggesting you copy their approach, but you can take vital learnings from their successes, and failures.
5. Do consider your channels
Wanting to target 16-24 year olds? Then step away from Facebook and head to TikTok. Wanting to target busy mums? Then Facebook or Instagram is your channel. Before starting any influencer activity, it is essential you have a clear view of what audience you are targeting, and therefore the social media channels they live on. Influencer marketing is not one size fits all, as the way people behave, and the information they’re seeking, varies from channel-to-channel.
To read more, download Smoking Gun’s full guide to influencer marketing here.