Key Takeaways:

– It always has to start with your brand why, especially when you’re using influencers otherwise you’ll just be another brand lost in the mix of thinning teas and activewear touted by the influencers

– Influencers aren’t just another media placement; they should be collaborators

– Strengthening your own brand without the help of influencers is future-proofing

This is not a ‘shit-on-influencers’ post. We recognise the value of influencers in the social media space. When audiences are getting more aware and suspicious of push advertising, influencers can bridge a gap with the audience that brands cannot cross by themselves. There are many different reasons a brand turns towards influencers whether it’s about changing the perception of a brand, reaching a unique niche or trying to get a new brand off the ground.

But more often than not, I’ve found that brands are resulting to the default of influencers for all their brand campaigns because that’s just how things go now, right? But where did all the creativity go? It is not enough to rely on influencers to promote all your messages because where are you in all of this? 

 

It is not enough to rely on influencers to promote your messages because where are you in all of this? 

At the most basic, social is an ever-evolving monster and you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket (influencer or not). But there are other layers that make influencers a bad fit for your brand messaging.

1) When you rely on influencers to deliver your key brand messages, their content becomes too contrite and brand-y.

The point of using influencers is to leverage their unique personalities and brands – not for them to just be the mouthpiece for your own press releases. But when you have nowhere else to talk about your product benefits of deliver your campaign messaging, you have no choice but to tightly control the influencers, which ultimately defeats the purpose of using them in the first place.

2) Influencers are losing their authenticity and potentially their value

As the pandemic hit, the influencers who relied purely on media invites and getting sent free things became evidently clear. They were the curators of cool – but without anything cool to show off, who were they? 

The fact is influencers have become this behemoth that do nothing but share their affiliate codes and pedal out the brands that will pay the big bucks with little discernment. They’ve become advertorial pages that deliver great pictures but little added value. (NB: we recognise that we started out this blog post saying we weren’t going to shit all over influencers and this is a huge generalisation, but we also roll our eyes at too many influencers who’s every post ends with their affiliate code and little much else). 

Regulation may be slow but also determinedly catching up to make influencers’ sponsorships more explicit. We see that with the introduction of the Australian Influencer Marketing Council in 2020 that sets to standardise the industry. So when every influencer post ends up looking the same, with the same key messages from the brand, with #spon or #ad all across it – how is this becoming any different from a branded page?

3) You sacrifice having your own brand platform. 

39% of social media users follow brands; that number rising to 59% for 18-29 year olds and 56% for 30-39 (Source: Yellow Social Media Report). In that same study, 54% want to see content that is relevant and useful to them; 53% that they are posting regularly. This all goes to show that you cannot forsake your own channels and their role in your communications matrix when it comes to social. 

Having a robust and authoritative social media page also means that when news pops up that requires your response, you can do so in an authentic manner. Just this week as Trump faced his second impeachment, you saw the number of brands that came out suddenly condemning the hatred of his administration and his supporters. Where have they been in the racial conversations over the past year? Or let alone the hatred he’s incited for the past four years? 

When you haven’t been playing in this space – as brands like Ben and Jerrys, Patagonia and even Nike so often do – it looks merely like brands jumping on the latest trend because everyone else is banning the guy. It’s like the saying goes: if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. 

A brand platform should be a place to take these important stands so that when the calls to do even more are here, you can lead the charge rather than following along with everyone else.

 

So how do we make influencers work for us? 

We reiterate once again that we see great value in using content creators and ambassadors to bolster the authority of a brand. After all, they’ve consistently demonstrated their values with studies showing the level of trust they put in influencers over brands and the importance held with human recommendations over push advertising. 

But it’s about being more conscious about why and how we use our influencers that can help enhance the brand, and set them up for success no matter what happens next. 

So next time you’re starting a new brand, campaign or wanting to engage an influencer, ask yourself these questions first:  

1) What is your brand story?

What do you stand for ? Who are you and what can you provide clients? Why should they still listen to you, yourself? What do they get out of your brand presence? 

2) Why am I using an influencer? What is the best way to do so?

 

What are the shortfalls in your brand presence that an influencer can help bridge? Is it mass reach? Authority in a niche audience?

And what can I offer them back? Influencer agreements should come with a valuable exchange – and we don’t just mean money. If it’s just about hitting the right amount to the influencer, you’ll end up spending money you shouldn’t. The right partnership means the influencer gets something out of your brand too so if you cannot answer that question, no amount of money will make the partnership work. 

Consider: 

what type of influencer you want to use – celebrity ambassador, micro, macro, a mix of all of them to address difference needs

what type of partnership you are setting up – content collaboration, long-term ambassadorship, honorary creative direction offers

are you paying them right? This is still a majorly unregulated field and brands and influencers are both guilty of taking too much from each other in this partnership. You only have to scroll through @influencerpaygap a few steps to know that. So do your research, consult what boards and regulations there are available in your country and be fair. By the time you’ve taken the above steps to know exactly the value your influencer will bring to your brand, you’ll better be able to offer them back what they deserve.

 

3) Have I done my due diligence with this influencer? 

Are they going to be authentic in promoting my brand? Have they promoted my competitors with the same fervour? Are they actually going to be a good fit? 

Have you checked them on Ninjalitics or SocialBlade to see if their engagement is from bots or other paid means? Is there audience actually aligned with your target? 

And most importantly – have I considered diversity in my decisions? Can I do better to engage influencers of colour, am I authentically speaking to the queer audience if I want to do so? 

     

    We get it, that’s an overwhelming number of questions when you thought it was as easy as sliding into the DMs of an influencer and offering some free product. But social should be done with these questions in mind, forcing us to be more conscious of wtf we are doing and how that impacts the audiences that end up seeing it. 

    But if you want further help in figuring out if influencer marketing is right for you and how to navigate a campaign, get in touch and organise a free consultation with our team now. 

    Header photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

    Related Articles

    Related