Patrick Brightman - 01/30/2018
Brands have more marketing paths than ever before to reach their ultimate destination – target audiences. Two methods that are gaining a lot of traction are Influencer Marketing and Influencer Relations. While these tactics are a relatively new tool in the marketing world, they share similar characteristics to some tried and true approaches, such as media relations. For this reason, brands turn to PR professionals for their influencer campaigns because they have the experience and skill set to conduct highly effective and impactful programs.
What is an Influencer Collaboration exactly?
Glad you asked. In layman’s terms, an influencer collaboration is a campaign where a brand teams up with a person who has a strong online following. The goal is to have this respected authority use his/her authentic voice to inform and possibly persuade his/her audience to follow and/or sample a brand. Typically, brands use one of two methods – Influencer Relations or Influencer Marketing – to raise brand awareness. We will dive more into that in our next blog. For now, let’s focus on the basics. It’s important to note that nowadays what makes an influencer can vary. Depending on the brand, it can range from a blogger or someone who is “Instagram famous” to a community activist or policy maker.
Example: Say you’re an organic candy company, and your goal is to get your product in front of millennial women who are committed to an organic and healthy lifestyle for themselves and their families. You have a couple different influencer angles you could tackle here. One would be to find someone who has a strong social media following, who’s talked about organic products in the past, and whose content is focused on healthy/organic foods and recipes such as Little Miss Foodie. If it aligns with the target audience, a partnership can be forged with a mother who runs a parenting blog and feeds her children only organic food. These types of influencers can shape opinions of organic/healthy lifestyle products and can use their voice to recommend a brand to their audiences.
In the 21st century, market influencers have a loud voice, and consumers listen to it. One of the most important qualities that an influencer has with his/her audience is something that every brand strives for…trust. People value the opinions of influencers because they have a relationship with them and are very loyal. This point is evident by this statistic from AdWeek.:
Did you know 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people – even someone they don’t know – over brand content.
Influencers are thought leaders who use social media as a platform to share their testaments with thousands, if not millions, of like-minded consumers. What brand wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
How to Find the Best Influencer
Selecting the proper influencer is the most critical element of any collaboration. You want to work with one who you can be confident will position your brand in a positive light. By doing the correct research, you can differentiate the ones who are authentic and respect their audiences, versus those who are in it just for the money. The process of finding the perfect person/organization takes time and can be tedious, but is completely necessary because not only can an influencer elevate your brand, they also have the power to throw shade on it. These factors highlight why the research portion of a campaign is essential.
Here are some tips for finding the best influencer for your brand:
- Search for influencers who have already used your brand and like it. They are more likely to be willing to work with you.
- Listen to the social media conversations they are having. Look at how they engage (or if they don’t engage at all), what do they talk about, and how do they respond to criticism?
- Don’t just limit yourself to searching for those with huge audiences, shift your focus to smaller ones, they are more likely to engage with you and you never know how they will grow.
- Lastly, focus on an influencer’s resonance, reference, and relevance. Followers should never be the only factor. Are they authentic? Do they align with your brand’s identity? Do they post negative reviews on products and if so, how frequently? Have they talked about your brand (or competitors) in the past? Who are their audiences?
The search for the right influencer for your brand can be overwhelming, but it’s essential to find one who can create a positive impact on your product.
Budgeting for an Influencer Collaboration
Once you decide you want to collaborate with an influencer you must think about what you’re willing to offer. Is it strictly free product or are you willing to give them a financial incentive?
Brands must recognize that it’s a two-way street; not only do you have to do your research on an influencer, but he/she is most likely going to do their research on you. It’s good to understand that not only do you need an influencer, but they need you to build their own personal brand, and create exposure to build their following. For this reason, it is important for brands to have an active social presence, as it makes it more attractive for an influencer to say “yes” to a collaboration.
Understanding these basics will help determine if an influencer program makes sense for your brand, and if so, how to select the most appropriate spokesperson. The next step is determining which approach – Influencer Relations or Influencer Marketing – is best. Stay tuned for the next blog where we dive into the differentiators between the two.
Learn more about how an Influencer Campaign can help you achieve growth and accomplish your goals.