So many brands bluff their way through influencer marketing programmes. Here are eight ways to professionalize the approach – writes Scott Guthrie
When hiring an employee you generally go through a process of:
- Analysis – Identifying how this role works towards achieving the organisation’s business objectives
- Recruitment – Looking for suitable candidates within the salary band you have benchmarked against the industry standard
- Selection – Whittling down a long list of possibles to a short-list of potential candidates to interview
- Induction – Making the new recruit feel at home quickly by embedding them into the work culture
- Performance review – Checking back within three months to make sure the new appointment is working on the right track and hitting agreed business milestones
You and the new employee will sign a contract covering:
- Your expectations from the employee
- How job performance is going to be measured
- A clear description of the role for job candidates
- How much they’re going to earn
You pick the best candidate based on skill set, attitude, corporate fit, and salary expectation. The contract forms an essential reference tool in issues of employee/employer dispute.
Before you issue that contract you will do background checks. You’ll gather references; check qualifications.
You undertake digital due diligence. You look through their LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
You check that nothing potentially damaging sticks out.
You do all of this because:
- You want to know you’re hiring who you think you’re hiring; not a bluffer or a veneer of someone else
- The new appointment is doing a job of work
- You want to pay the going rate (but no higher)
- You expect the working relationship will be long and mutually rewarding
- You want to have recourse in the event that it doesn’t go according to plan
When working with influencers why do so many brands just wing it?
So, when it comes to working with influencers, why do brands so often just wing it?
There is a stack of business articles bemoaning the cost and lack of return on investment from undertaking influencer marketing campaigns.
Digiday’s article Confessions of a social media exec on influencer marketing: ‘We threw too much money at them’ has become a seminal text in the argument of influencer marketing as waste. As of this morning, the diatribe has notched up 14,000 social media shares and acquired hundreds of backlinks.
One quote from the article written anonymously runs:
“we’ll often find someone [an influencer] we like and we’ll throw it into a database with keywords. But usually, it’s a CEO or CMO or whoever saying, “Oh, my kid likes this guy.” At this major car brand I worked for, we paid $300,000 for a few photographs because the CEO’s kid liked someone.
Other stories marking the perils of influencer marketing point out the quantities of fake followers by some wanna-be influencers. Erik Sherman, writing in Inc., the US masthead focused on growing companies, ran a story titled The influencer you use may be ripping you off.
The story ridicules influencer marketing by highlighting Lena Katz who took a picture of a potato, set up accounts for the potato on Instagram and Twitter and bought 10,000 followers.
There are plenty of other tales. I have written before about the ‘reach myth’ of influencer marketing. In which I talk about a Sydney marketing company which set up a fake catering company online to prove a point. With the help of buying some fake followers, some fake reviews, a WordPress website and a Twitter account the fake company ended up winning awards and was feted by social media ‘influencers’ before the owner revealed it as a hoax.
These influencer marketing negative stories all demonstrate one point. It is the basis of all contract law: Caveat emptor “let the buyer beware.”
You wouldn’t hire an account executive without a recruitment, selection and induction process. Why then would you hire someone to represent your entire brand – or your client’s brand without following a rigorous process, too?
Here are eight tips to make your influencer marketing programmes businesslike.
8 tips to professionalize your influencer marketing programmes.
Understand the objective
This phase essentially answers questions like:
- Why are we doing it?
- What exactly are we doing and where?
- How will we know whether or not we’ve done it?
It starts with:
- Knowing who you want to influence (usually customers but often wider stakeholder groups)
- Articulating what the client wants to achieve
- Determining how this work fits into your client’s bigger communications and business strategy
Identify and select most relevant influencer
Finding the most appropriate influencer starts with articulating what you’re aiming to achieve.
Then decide whether the best-fit-influencer is someone who is a subject matter expert within your category or whether to choose an influencer who resonates with you target audience.
Screen out inappropriate influencers
This phase provides you with a safety check. It’s the step where you vet influencers. In the identification and selection phase, you will probably have used third-party tools to do the heavy lifting finding influencers based on keyword search based on algorithms. In the screening phase, you’re checking for:
In the screening phase, you’re checking for:
- An authentic match with your client’s brand. Does the tie-in feel natural? Ensure it’s not contrived in terms of content, values, and tone of voice
- Consistent content creation which resonates with your target audience prompting shares, comments, and likes
- No close relationships with competitor brands
Put a contract in place
Make sure you get what you’ve agreed with the influencer in writing. Get a contract signed. This is also an opportunity to remind the creator about their obligations to meeting disclosure regulations.
Develop a creative brief
The contract now negotiated, work together with the influencer on the creative brief. Use this phase to remove any ambiguity with the influencer on what content is to be created, the creative look and feel, the flow and the key messages to be conveyed.
Don’t bind influencers into a straightjacket, though. Brands turn to influencers because they want their stories to be told with an authentic voice. Often, however, they also think they can control the message via influencers.
Influencers know their audiences. They know what their audience likes – and what it doesn’t care for. They’ve built a following through hard work. Consistently posting quality content which resonates with their following and they engage with that following.
Trust your digital due diligence phase and learn to let go.
Disclose the commercial arrangement
Make sure your influencer discloses the commercial arrangement effectively
- Disclose, clearly and prominently, whether the content has been paid for.
- Be open about other commercial relationships that might be relevant to the content; and
- Give genuine views on markets, businesses, goods or services.
READ ALSO: Influencer marketing and the law
The economic value of content is zero unless it is seen, shared and acted upon.
Different metrics and methods for measurement can be used to define your success depending on your influencer objectives.
Use different influencers with different messages at different parts of the simplified sales funnel of awareness, consideration, decision depending on your call to action appropriate for that phase.
Review, reflect & learn
Make time for a wash-up session as soon as possible after the influencer project. This is the opportunity for the team to come together and to answer questions whilst the details remains fresh in everyone’s minds.
Don’t’ ask what went wrong. Do ask: ‘what could have gone better?’ Let improvement, not failure, be the guiding principle.
There may have been no mistakes made but areas you would do differently next time to improve the process. Capture this.
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