Influencers can be a powerful ally in today’s marketing game. With 61% of consumers relying on social media when shopping, it’s no wonder more and more brands are enlisting influencers to boost sales.
As a social media agency, we strive to meet our clients’ requirements when working with influencers. However, it’s also crucial to zoom in on the other side of things, and understand what the influencers themselves want from brand collaborations.
At a recent panel at PI Live 2018, I gained some fascinating insights into this. Although much of what Instagram influencers – Lorna Luxe, Dominique Davis and Onyi Moss – highlighted as ‘do’s and don’ts’ may seem obvious, others were really surprising.
1. First impressions are everything
When working on large-scale influencer campaigns as an agency, it’s often common practice to send the same outreach messaging to all influencers on the client’s list. This is all in the interest of time and efficiency, and often works.
Saying that, influencers will easily recognise copied-and-pasted emails and they’re often off-putting. Onyi Moss (the fashionista behind the Instagram account @mossonyi) explained: “Sometimes you just get an email, and you can tell that the brand doesn’t know anything about you and what you stand for”.
Adding a personal touch when outreaching, and taking the time to research the influencer and their differences will take your outreach from standard to eye-catching. Making that small bit of effort will tell the influencer that you and your client admire their work and that they’re not just one from a list of many.
2. Allow influencers creative freedom
Influencers are often creatives, so allowing them to express that creativity in collaborations is a definite aspect to highlight. This is where you’ll need to strike a balance between making your client happy, and getting the influencer on-board and excited.
In many instances, a client will ask you to include a long list of requirements in the influencer brief, which go way further than just a campaign hashtag and product link. While this list makes sense to your clients’ marketing leads, it’s not going to appeal to the influencer who’s waiting to unleash their creativity on the other end of that email.
Dominique Davis (who runs colourful, family-oriented Instagram @allthatisshe) told the audience that “brand briefs with a list of guidelines and rules just don’t work. They just stifle your creativity”. The influencers on stage expressed the importance of brands allowing them to run wild with a short, flexible brief with minimal restrictions. They stressed that if they are granted creative freedom, the content will resonate well with their audience and therefore be successful.
3. Trust the influencer’s expertise
While agency-side, we live and breathe the social platforms, it’s often easy to overlook the fact that these influencers are also experts. They use their platform every day (in similar and different ways to us) so it’s important to recognise this and allow the collaboration to be a learning experience on both sides.
Dominique continued in saying “We’ve only agreed to campaigns where brands have trusted our judgement and trust that we know our audience. We’re hot on the [platform] trends and we know what’s doing well.”
4. Allow lots of prep time
While this may be a given, it’s important to highlight. While we, as the agency, and the client allow lots of time to prep, plan and organise an influencer campaign, allowing the influencer a good chunk of time too is just as necessary. If anything, the influencers should be given the most generous deadline because they’re the ones creating the innovative content you and your client are looking for.
Onyi highlighted how she loves to tell stories in her content to make it valuable to her, her audience and the brand: “When I’m working with a brand, I love to have enough notice about the campaign because I love to do research on the brand and what the product is about. I love getting to know the story around it.”
If you and your clients want the best content and results, give the influencers you want to work with plenty of notice. Rushed content won’t be beneficial, while content which has time and thought behind it will be more meaningful and successful for all parties involved.
5. Provide influencers with clear briefs
While making your influencer briefs short and non-restrictive, they also need to be clear. Unclear briefs can lead to content that the client is dissatisfied with, which will lead to frustrating amends and, crucially, a weakened relationship with the influencer.
Something to be absolutely clear about is whether it’s sponsored content you’re after, or if you’re simply gifting a product to an influencer (with no obligation to post). It’s likely the campaign will be for sponsored content; as 39% of marketers planned to increase their influencer marketing budget this year, with 19% planning to spend over a whopping $100,000 per campaign, according to Jessica and Elizabeth [these stats are from a Linquia report, I think].
6. Work with influencers who are also proud advocates of the brand
If an influencer publishes sponsored content, they are required by law to declare this when posting. When working with influencers, it’s important to note their willingness and openness to declare that they’ve been paid for content. This will reflect on their professionalism and approach in their content-creation.
Lorna Luxe (fashion Instagrammer over at @lornaluxe) felt very passionate about how important it was to do this, and explained how it portrays the influencer as proud of their sponsored content: “If you’re really authentic, and you create content that you back every day, it should be something to celebrate. If your audience gets you and everything about your vision, then there’s no shame in that; it’s a great thing I think.”
Our experience at OST really echoes this. If the influencer is proud of their sponsored content with your client, it’s a fantastic sign that they’re passionate about the brand and shouting about it to their positive audience. We tend to work more with influencers who are also proud advocates.
Evidently, with influencer marketing on the rise, it’s more important now than ever to get it right. While meeting your client’s requirements and getting some fantastic content out of it should be up there on your priority list, being aware of what influencers want is equally important to a successful outcomes. I hope this list is useful – it’s certainly helped clarify a few key points for me!
We’ll be speaking to a range of Consumer and B2B influencers at our Influencer Marketing Huddle in London on 21st Nov. If you’d like to join us, register your interest on the website.