Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series under the banner headline: “5 problems brands come to you to solve.” The first three articles covered customer complaints, crisis communications and whether brands should take a stand on social issues. This next article tackles the booming industry of influencer marketing.
IHow can comms professionals help a brand find the right influencer to work with? Is an influencer right for the client’s project? What kind of influencers should a brand consider outside of the ubiquitous social influencer?
Is an influencer right for this project?
Before engaging an influencer, it’s important to brainstorm with the brand to determine if an influencer is right for the planned project or campaign. Sometimes an influencer can help give a project a boost, and sometimes it’s a waste of resources for both the brand and the influencer.
Brands might also be stuck on the idea of a social influencer when it might make more sense to tap a journalist or someone else influential in their industry.
Once it’s determined that using an influencer makes sense for the project, the next task is to find the right influencer and secure the relationship.
Influencer relationship building
Finding the right influencer, pitching them and building an agreement that both sides are happy with can be an intensive process. Rather than pursuing a one-and-done campaign with an influencer, a better route is for PR and comms pros to work with brands and influencers to build lasting relationships.
This protects the investment of resources on both sides, as well as building trust with the target audience; if they’re turning to an influencer for recommendations and see that an influencer is working with a brand consistently over time, the audience is more likely to consider the brand.
Journalists are influencers in their own right, often having spent years building expertise on one or more industries.
Here’s how Cision defines journalists and bloggers:
- Journalist: A journalist publishes consistent and/or relevant earned media content through traditional news sources (newspapers/magazines/news websites/broadcast/radio). Also included are the teams surrounding a published journalist who help determine/prepare news for distribution (i.e. editors or producers).
- Blogger: Individuals who have material reach and resonance via a blog and produce content that is usually concentrated within a specific expertise or knowledge area, and often reflects a personal opinion/slant on the subject matter based on the author’s personal experience.
Also keep in mind
Before launching a campaign or partnership with an influencer, be sure all relevant details between the brand and the influencer are discussed and agreed upon.
The first step is an exhaustive vetting of the influencer. Ask questions like:
- Have they worked with a brand before?
- If so, which one(s)? Any competitors? (This could compromise their trustworthiness with their audience if it appears they’ll work with any brand in a space for some kind of return.)
- Is there anything in their past that could cause a crisis comms situation for the brand?
Be very thorough with the last item; one old tweet can snowball out of control into a negative situation for the influencer and any brand associations. Also pay attention to other influencers they regularly interact with and what their reputations are.
Turning to the specifics of the partnership or campaign, be sure all parties agree on:
- What the brand will provide to the influencer, and vice versa
- Deliverables from the influencer (what those deliverables are [tweets, etc.] and the exact number provided)
- Who is responsible for reporting on metrics?
- What those metrics are (what does success look like?)
- What is the timeframe for reporting? (Ideally throughout the campaign so it can be adjusted if the numbers aren’t as expected.)
- What does each party owe the other at the end of the campaign — a postmortem, final analytics, planning for another project or part of the campaign?
- Payment, when and based on what actions?
Also, be sure that both the brand and the influencer are adhering to all disclosure guidelines put forth by the Federal Trade Commission. In February the agency revealed it planned to ramp up penalties for violations. Many social platforms now have built-in methods for disclosing brand partnerships (see the @halfbakedharvest Instagram post in the influencer relationships building section above).
The bottom line? When in doubt, disclose.