How to Work with Influencers

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Influencer marketing shows no signs of slowing down. In 2022 it’s projected to expand to a $16.4 billion industry and this should come as no surprise. Data from Mediakix shows that the ROI of influencer marketing is 11x greater than other types of digital marketing, such as banner ads

This kind of work can help with more than just an improved bottom line, including enhanced social media engagement, high-quality customers, and increased brand awareness and reach. All useful improvements for when you’re looking to sell your business.

However, despite its rise to prominence, many brands still struggle when it comes to onboarding and working with influencers, which is where we come in. At BRANDED we’re proven operators in this field – did you know OTOTO got a shoutout from Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton? Check out how Paris shared her love for the brand’s measuring spoons here.

So if you want to start working with influencers but aren’t sure of best practices or where to begin, take a look at our step-by-step guide.

1. Choosing Your Influencer

When deciding which influencer to work with, targeting is key. 

Create a shortlist with your audience firmly in mind. You should be choosing someone who is a good fit with your brand and aesthetics. And although big names and large follower counts may seem a safe bet, that’s not always necessarily the case.

If you’re targeting a niche audience with a specific interest, you might even be better off selecting a micro-influencer with a smaller reach to a more targeted audience. For example, a video game brand would get more traction working with a gaming Youtuber than a bigger name celebrity, who may have more followers but only a limited number of whom are gamers.

Don’t neglect engagement metrics either. Follower counts will always have some sway but that shouldn’t be at the top of your list of requirements. Are your influencer’s followers actively engaging with their content? Check out not just likes but also comments and other forms of engagement to assess this. To find this out you can calculate it manually, use specialist software, or ask your potential influencer if they or their agent is able to provide it themselves.

2. Performing Due Diligence Checks

Using influencers isn’t without its risks. Take Michael Phelps, who was let go by Kellogg after a photo leaked of him inhaling a marijuana pipe. Or Kate Moss who lost multiple modelling contracts after being caught with drugs. Obviously, some scandals and controversies are impossible to plan for; however, if you want to ensure your influencer helps to grow your business reputation, rather than decrease it, there are things you can do to offset some of these risks. After all, you don’t want to pick up the paper and see your brand hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

One preventive method involves conducting a thorough due diligence check on influencers before beginning work. This can be a timely process but also guards against a lot of embarrassment and loss of income and reputation in the long run. 

Such a check involves searching through their social media feeds for the last few years, including watching videos posted. You can also run a thorough Google search on them, alongside relevant keywords such as ‘controversy’ to pick up on any negative news stories which may have run in the past.

But what are you looking for? You’ll want to be scanning for anything illegal or which doesn’t align with your brand’s values. Check for racist, homophobic or sexist slurs, as well as your influencer expressing any views which might be considered controversial or divisive. It’s similarly sensible to conduct searches about drugs, problematic alcohol use, overly sexual content or involvement in crime, or any threats of violence. 

Different brands will have different comfort levels when it comes to some of these categories. If you’re an edgy youth brand you might not mind some racy photos or sexual references but if your brand is all about being wholesome and virtuous, you will likely want to be extra cautious in your decision-making here.

You may also want to think about some of these elements when drawing up the contract with your influencer, asking them to agree on how to conduct themselves on social media during the time you are working together.

This can extend to their use of other brands during the period the contract is in effect. Famously, Charlize Theron was ordered to appear in court for breaching her contract with Swiss watchmaker Raymond Weil, when she wore a Christian Dior watch during her time working for them as a brand ambassador. 

3. Creating Content

When it comes to working with influencers you have a few different options. You could provide a fee in exchange for them creating and posting content to their feeds offering their endorsement of your product or brand (whether that be a competition or giveaway, product or content collab, or more long term ambassador work). Alternatively, you can provide them with a product or service for free in the hope they will post about it on their socials in the form of a review.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. The latter is more costly but also means less risk and more control for your brand. With reviews, there is always the possibility the influencers will hate your product and say as much on their feeds. 

Take Benjamin Burnley from the band Breaking Benjamin, who in no uncertain terms discussed what he hated about the Star Wars Battlefront game after he was sent it by EA Games.

“They can shove it up their ****,” Benjamin wrote on his Instagram feed, alongside a picture of the game disk he had snapped in half. “This game sucks, I’d rather watch the god-awful prequels than this piece of *** one more second.”

And even if your influencer provides a favorable review they may emphasize the wrong key messages or use an incorrect tone of voice for talking about your product. A more formal agreement means more say in how your product comes across to your audience, resulting in more business growth.

That said, be wary of misusing the control a paid-for influencer will afford you. It’s worth remembering that influencers are so successful on social media because of their deep understanding of what will work best with their highly loyal and engaged fans.

By all means, create a thorough brief and be clear on which key messages you want to include, as well as anything that would be inappropriate for your brand and so shouldn’t feature. However, guard against micromanaging what they produce as this can get in the way of the creation of content that will seem authentic.

It’s painfully obvious to spot the branded content on influencer feeds that have been too heavily influenced by the marketing department of the brand in question. Such posts stick out like a sore thumb and cause the consumer to lose trust in the reliability of the recommendation. It’s better to aim for something which blends seamlessly with the influencer’s regular, organic content than end up causing consumer cynicism with a piece of content that seems unnatural, salesy, or out of keeping with the rest of the influencer’s feed.

One thing to help assist with the briefing process is reviewing the influencer’s previous content and pinpointing the posts you liked the most and which they should aim to replicate in terms of style. This way the influencer has a steer in the right direction, without being spoon-fed how you want their content to be. 

Joint brainstorming meetings with your team and the influencer in question before getting to the content creation stage is another effective way of producing something which reflects both your brand and your influencer’s usual content. 

When drawing up the brief and contract for your influencer to agree to, it may also be worth including how many rounds of amendments you would expect during content creation. This will allow you some leeway should your influencer create something which doesn’t feel quite right for your brand.

4. Measuring Influencer Success

When looking at how well your work with influencers has performed various metrics can be used to determine whether or not it was a hit.

On the more obvious side, you can look at engagement figures, including likes, clicks, shares, and comments.

However, if you want to determine the revenue generated, affiliate links are your way to go, as they allow you to track the success of your campaign. You can generate these yourself, and send them to your influencer to use in their content and when people click on them and make a purchase, you will have a record of that. Promo codes and Google analytics can also help with providing these more detailed metrics. Some influencers are even paid on commission, gaining a percentage of the total sales they bring in.

How BRANDED Can Help 

At BRANDED, our influencer approach & strategy is a key component to how we expand the presence of our brands. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to work with influencers or in growing or selling a business, please get in touch and speak to us. Our expert advice will help drive your marketing and branding strategies to the next level, to eventually sell your business.