Engagement, metrics, algorithms: welcome to the influencer game.
As an industry we have reached capacity on talking about influencers, micro-influencers, ASA regulations, authenticity, gifting and how much to pay. As a brand you need to decide what route you want to take whether you want to pay the price of using #ad or organically gift.
Only one option is guaranteed exposure. Brands are still being told which influencers to use and what impact they will have, but the results differ for many reasons.
The cycle of influencer marketing
Typically, when tasked with a new launch, PRs across the country have a little black book of bloggers they can rely on for a quick mention. There are some who will take the freebie, some who will promote for a fee and others where money is not enough.
Once you’ve exhausted your go-to contacts, you then produce a great coverage deck full of engagement rates and stats. Brands continually ask what is the ROI? What are the engagement rates? How much do they cost? Should we go down the micro route, or just pick Zoella?
What you need to do first is your research. You don’t need to find out the data on what they eat, when they wake up or how much Drake they listen to. You need to need to ask yourself what type of influencer are you looking for and does their content fit your brand image?
Relevance is key in the influencer game. It doesn’t matter how many followers they have, if their audience don’t believe they actually use the product or service, the purpose of influencer will be worthless.
#AD or gift?
The next question you’ll ask is do we need to pay? The offer of payment seems like the easy route, but money may not be enough to secure a deal, although it can help speed the process for a mention if and when the contract gets signed.
Gifting is often a waiting game with a lot of scrolling through social feeds every hour of the day, but this benefits from coming without the need of #ad. This is where the argument of authenticity comes into play as they are not being paid to say what they like.
Both options comes with pros and cons but gifting can pay off in the long run, as you can build on the relationship if your desired influencer loves your product.
If you choose the paid activity route and want to increase your authenticity make your fee spread out towards a more long-term contract with an ambassador role on offer. For consumers we are getting more sceptical of the #ad, so use it wisely.
The future of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is now a permanent fixture of any PR plan. With the likes of Alfie & Zoella setting up their own company and dominating the influencer world, influencers are beginning to take more ownership of their industry and call the shots.
Brands have a lot of decisions to make and not all of them will have the same strategy when it comes to influencers. One-off posts by brands will start to fade out and long-term ambassadors will take over, providing a meaningful relationship for both parties.
The influencer landscape is an exciting one and my message to brands is do your research and you will reap the benefits.