Welcome to the world’s biggest popularity contest, where being cool isn’t a pre-requisite (but it helps). This is the world of the social influencer.
These are the people today that have thousands of social followers, yet feel like your best friend. Double tap through their carefully curated Instagram feeds. Watch them tackle the cinnamon challenge on professionally edited YouTube videos. Follow them to Target with their mother via a Snapchat story. Social influencers, or whatever you want to call them, are a true creation of the internet.
The importance of social influencers to brands is something that has become a phenomenon in the last few years. Retail giant Coles has reduced their spending on traditional advertising by half and redirected funds into digital. And you guessed it, social influencer spend is on that digital receipt.
A survey out of Europe found that bloggers and social contacts ranked third and fourth when asking “Whose opinions do you trust the most?” losing only to family and friends. This tested higher than celebrities and brands, which weighed in at eighth and ninth respectively. So now that we’ve determined these popular kids are important, we need to understand how to best work with them.
Engaging with social influencers can be a highly rewarding experience for both the agency and the brand. While sometimes a bit of a gamble, influencer work can provide our clients with mass coverage, positive brand association, high quality content, fan growth, and all at an affordable rate. But how do we manage quality and keep costs down? There’s an art to it, and I’m going to lay down the rules below.
Rule 1: Find the right fit. The less of a stretch it is for an influencer to identify with a brand or campaign, the less they’re putting their image or following at risk. If it’s a good fit for the influencer it’s more likely you’ll get bang for your buck.
Rule 2: Do your research. This is really an extension of rule 1. You want to find the right fit, but you also need to work out if an influencer’s voice and audience matches your brand’s mission and goals. Plus, do a little digging on the influencer to see if they’ve worked with other brands and check out their engagement rates to separate the weeds from the flowers.
Rule 3: Be flexible. Work with them and don’t tell them what to do. You’ve got to remember that these people are self-made. They’re protective of the following they have created and their content, so it’s important to respect their craft. Try approaching an influencer with an open mind and aligning to their current activities. You never know, you may be able to slide your brand in without a problem. The more rigid your approach, the more you can expect to pay.
Rule 4: Contracts are your friend. More often than not influencers request payment and it’s important to hold them to their word. By setting the scene and expectations, you can almost ensure your clients that the coverage will come through. Don’t forget to outline what you’ll be providing to them and what is expected in return in an easy to read format. Which brings us to the final rule.
Rule 5: The most important rule of all – remember that there’s a value exchange. When approaching an influencer keep in mind the assets that your clients have. Do they have a huge following on social? Can you offer PR value? Propose these as a value added! Influencers are always keen to grow their profiles and the few hundred thousand fans on your brand’s socials or page 3 of the Daily Telegraph is no exception.
Now that you have the keys to engaging with influencers, go forth, and play with the cool kids!