Lets think outside the box a little when using influencers, shall we?
Partnering with the right social media influencer can help to bring your brand to your target audience. The form of influence can vary but by creating original, relevant content, a well-respected influencer can build trust, drive engagement and direct attention to your brand.
An established influencer is unlikely to want to follow a traditional, prescriptive advertising style. Working with an influencer whose vision aligns with your own is crucial, as influencers tend to crave creative autonomy. A successful influencer, who’s worked hard to establish a following, won’t want to partner with a business that makes their own brand seem salesy or inconsistent. Influencers should create content that complements their own feed.
Followers’ engagement tends to be sustained by plenty of organic, non-paid content. Enthusiasm will waver when presented with too many paid posts – nobody is on social media to be sold to! Brands tend to reach out to influencers and ask them to promote a product or service. This usually translates into a photo, video or blog post featuring the brand’s offering. While sponsored posts and ads can create genuine emotional connection between brand campaigns and influencer stories, there are other, under-utilised ways in which your business can engage with influencers.
A review is a common influencer marketing method. A brand will offer their product or service for free and the influencer will post a review in exchange. Picture the ‘unboxing’ videos often posted online. The idea being that the influencer posts an honest, unbiased review of the product as it’s unboxed and tested for the first time on camera. This authentic testing and review can reap fantastic rewards for the brand if the outcome is genuine and positive. It can however, be disastrous if the influencer is unimpressed. It’s important to be aware that this method can create ethical difficulties around issues of authenticity and bias, as the brand may set guidelines about what can be said by the influencer.
Perhaps a less risky option is affiliate marketing. This is a type of performance-based marketing. Affiliate schemes encourage the influencer to promote in a convincing way, as it benefits them financially to do so. Again, in this instance, it’s crucial to ensure the influencer and brand are on the same page. If the two are not aligned or communication is inauthentic, a brand image can be detrimentally affected.
An exciting influencer marketing method that demonstrates an alignment of values between a brand and an influencer is product and content collaborations. Instead of one-off ad campaigns or reviews, a collaboration demonstrates a more intimate and genuine working partnership. Some brands work closely with influencers to co-create products. This is often found within the fashion and beauty industries (Love Island stars and Pretty Little Thing for example). Influencers create their own line of clothing, accessories or beauty products in collaboration with a brand and under the brand’s name. This is a very involved and collaborative strategy and is more common among established brands. Content collaboration may be an ideal first step if you’re not quite ready to jump into product manufacture.
ASOS have only recently employed this kind of influencer marketing, ‘National Ovie Day’!
Similarly, another, more integrated influencer marketing method is to utilise brand ambassadors. An ambassador is an influencer who partners with a brand for an extended period of time. Ambassadors can be likened to the celebrity spokespeople employed in traditional advertising campaigns to endorse products. Think of an ambassador as the face of a brand and particularly so, when promoting consistently and for a relatively long period of time, these Ambassadors can prove successful by demonstrating brand loyalty, more so than a single sponsored post or #ad.
This type of influencer marketing campaign demonstrates a depth of partnership that creates credibility. Such authenticity develops trust and will resonate with the influencer’s followers and hopefully as a consequence, your brand’s potential customers. From a strategic point of view, frequent promotion will not only place your brand at the forefront of the audience’s mind but will also allow you to showcase your offerings. Such consistency generally helps to maintain a more certain and convenient marketing strategy.
An alternative to a brand utilising an influencer’s platform is to allow the influencer to take-over the brand’s own channels. In a take-over, the brand gives the influencer access to its social media channels of choice for a set period of time. This is usually a day or so. While this involves a high level of trust, it’s important that the influencer has creative freedom. Influencers can create fun posts, videos and stories to keep the audience interested and engaged. This method of influencer marketing is well utilised at Fashion Weeks around the world, with Instagram models taking over designer brands accounts to provide ‘behind the scenes’ access and content.
Influencer content tends to be about emotion and engagement. Aligning your brand with an influencer involves avoiding the obvious product plug and truly tapping into this authenticity and entertainment. It’s important to embrace an influencer’s creativity and remember that they became influential because their content resonates with the followers you’re trying to reach – no one knows an influencers followers better than the influencer themselves.
As you’ll see there are lots of different and exciting ways to use influencers when aiming to grow your brand, raising awareness can be far more than the feed-invading #ad.