If you have a social media account, you’ve probably seen at least one influencer at work. Influencers, or creators, are people who make and post valuable content on social media and amass a sizable following as a result. Put simply, they influence people’s personal or professional habits with their content.
Over the last several years, the power of influencers has revealed itself. According to a recent study, Gen Z has been most impacted by influencers, followed by Millennials. In fact, 28% of all consumers discover new products and brands through influencers, and Gen Z and Millennials are two times more likely than Boomers to trust them. You can look at the trending #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag to see the real-life impact of influencer content on consumers.
In addition to driving purchases, working with influencers drives awareness, consideration, product reviews, and suggestions on how to use your products in real-world settings. Although creators are required to disclose when content has been sponsored (or paid for) by a brand, consumers tend to believe that influencer content is authentic and features the creator’s honest opinion. That’s why it’s important to know how to properly leverage influencers for your brand.
How to Effectively Partner with Influencers
When it comes to partnering with influencers, there are a few important qualities you should keep in mind. For starters, seek out creators with content and values that align with your brand and customer base. You can find these creators by searching for your most enthusiastic “brand fans” and the people who frequently tag your brand in their social content. These will serve as authentic voices who are excited to work with you.
Next, remember that creators don’t need millions of followers to work effectively. In fact, micro- and nano-influencers are highly effective in reaching audiences. Starbucks, Airbnb, Glossier, and California Pizza Kitchen are just a few of the major brands that partner with micro-influencers. That’s because even nano- and micro-influencers boast high engagement rates and can help brands target consumers based on interest or location.
Additionally, it’s important to consider what you are trying to achieve with your influencer strategy. Do you want to spread broad national awareness about a product with a multi-tiered influencer campaign, or is it wiser for your brand to start small by testing and learning with micro- and nano-influencers in specific markets or by interest? What is your budget?
Here are some more things to consider when you’re getting ready to select and work with an influencer:
- Create an influencer strategy that aligns with your business goals. Want to drive retail in a specific region? Look at content creators who have worked with that retailer on other brand partnerships.
- Define the structure of your influencer program. Are you looking for mass awareness or targeted activation? You may want to take a tiered approach that includes mega-influencers, as well as the aforementioned micro- and nano-influencers.
- Create an influencer brief with clear goals and CTAs. Be careful not to get too prescriptive. You want the creator to be able to tell their story with your brand in an authentic way, but you also want to convey important talking points, calls to action, and website links.
- Thoroughly vet your influencers.In your selection process, make sure your influencers have a good balance of unbranded and branded content to ensure authenticity. You’ll also want to make sure that their content steers clear of explicit nudity or other questionable content that doesn’t align with your brand. Also, look at their followers to ensure that they are real and engaged.
- Develop a solid contract. Your influencer contract should spell out expectations on both sides of the relationship, including post requirements, payment terms, and other important details. If you intend to use creator content on your owned social channels or other digital media, make sure you negotiate those terms upfront so there are no surprises.
Partnering with an influencer can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but this checklist will help to ensure that you and your influencer(s) are on the same page.
Strategies for an Effective Influencer-Brand Partnership
Now that you know how to select the right influencer(s) for your brand, it’s important to get the most out of your collaboration. Here are a few strategies to keep in mind when you are working with an influencer to drive brand awareness, sell products, and increase engagement:
1. Develop a creator relationship.
Ideally, you’ll want to start a long-term relationship with creators. As with any relationship, communication is key. If possible, meet with influencers to explain the brief and answer any questions they have about the brand so they can tell your story effectively.
2. Avoid being prescriptive.
You are paying the creator to do what they do best—create. As such, it’s crucial to let them do their job. They know what will resonate with their audiences, so give them the freedom to do that. Trust in the process.
3. Pay influencers on time.
This goes back to developing the influencer-brand relationship, as influencers who aren’t paid on time may avoid working with you in the future. This should go without saying, but you expect to get paid on time––so do they. Don’t make creators chase you for payments.
There are so many types of creator programs to choose from when considering what works for you, including unpaid user-generated content all the way up to working with celebrities. If you’re selective, think critically about your strategy, and build meaningful relationships with creators, influencer outreach can be an incredible tool in your marketing belt. Don’t miss out.
About the Author
Jeff Snyder is the founder and chief inspiration officer at Inspira Marketing Group, an experiential marketing agency headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with offices in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. With more than 20 years of experience, Snyder leads his agency’s growth by focusing on building genuine relationships through client development and audience engagement.