Last week, I may have written a 1,000 word rant about all the problems with influencer marketing in 2018. Sorry/not sorry?
I mean, this is the reality of the world today: influencer marketing is huge. The potential is huge. But there are lots of issues with it as well.
So, today, I wanted to try to focus on the positive. Yes, there are problems, we acknowledge that. But today I want to talk solutions.
Let’s be clear: in today’s world, we make purchasing decisions based on the recommendations of people we trust. This has always been true, but in the past, it might have been a neighbour or a family member. Today, it’s Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. And to take that one step further, it’s influencers on YouTube and Instagram. These are people who have built up a following creating content and their audience trusts them.
A girl with 100,000 YouTube subscribers who recommends a specific mascara on her vlog will definitely influence sales, and smart businesses want to work with these vloggers.
But if you are a business, how can you separate the wheat from the chaff? One major complaint I’ve heard from business owners is that they feel like many influencers are constantly “with their hands out,” and they don’t feel like they get anything much back in terms of return.
So as business owners, how can we ensure that we’re getting a return on our investment?
- Do your research. It’s really important to make sure that the influencer with whom you want to work is authentic. Don’t just look at their follower count. Follower counts are vanity metrics, and are easily purchased. Yes, someone may have tens of thousands of followers on Instagram, but you may be better off working with someone who has less followers, but more engagement. Don’t be seduced by those numbers. When you are doing research on influencers, don’t just look at their follower count. Look a their engagement. Do they have likes and comments on their posts? And do the comments look like they come from real people, not bots? If the comments are generic and lacking in punctuation, there’s a chance they are from bots. Learn more about my method of finding and researching influencers here.
- Do your values align? Another thing I look for when researching influencers is what kind of content they put out. Do their values align with yours? If your business is enviornmentally-minded, you don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t’ give a shit about sustainability. When researching, look into all their channels, not just the one you want to engage with them on. Look at their website. Google them. Do your due diligence.
- Are they just in it for the $$? One interesting thing to note is wether or not the influencer has a lot of sponsored content on their feeds. There’s nothing wrong with having sponsored posts, for sure, but there should be mix of editorial and sponsored content. I don’t want to work with someone who is only in it for the money. I want to work with someone who aligns with my values first, and then compensation comes next.
- Contract. If you are entering into a sponsorship relationship with the influencer, obviously there needs to be a contract in place outlining what is being exchanged: the amount of money being paid and what you are getting in return from that. Just to take that one step further, many marketing and PR people I know are actually sending out contracts for partner agreements, as well (a partner agreement means you get swag or product in exchange for creating content). This is definitely something you can try, as it will make you feel safer.
- Play the long game. Create relationships with influencers that are going to be long-term relationships, not just one-time-only deals. If the influencer feels like it could be an ongoing thing, that they can profit from over the long term, or over a longer period of time, that’s a good thing for both of you. So cultivate those relationships. And if someone renegs on their deal with you, just don’t work with them again.
Having said all of this, I don’t want y’all to think that I’m down on influencer marketing. I’m not. I know it works, but I also think we need to be smarter about it as business owners.
And here are some interesting articles that you might want to read as well.