It’s one of those things that everyone have heard of and know it’s a thing, but only a handful of people have actually experienced it and lived to tell. Yes, I am talking about influencer marketing. Lately, all marketers are discussing about is this (“new”) trend of hiring social media stars and popular bloggers for their campaigns. Big brands like Asos, Revolve, Nike, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks have been using them for years, but what about those smaller companies that don’t have an immense budget to spend on Instagram influencers and Youtube stars to promote them?
The first thing that bugs people is why does it cost so much. It’s not like it’s THAT HARD to create a photo and post in on Instagram while tagging a brand’s product, right? Wrong! Influencer marketing is “a hybrid of old and new marketing tools, taking the idea of the celebrity endorsement and placing it into a modern-day content-driven marketing campaign.” Long story short, this isn’t anything new – brands have been hiring well-known people for decades to promote their products or services. The difference is that a decade ago, Nike would hire an actor or a singer to star in their TV commercial, while today they are going to spend their money to collaborate with Instagram influencer to promote their new sneakers. Same method, but in a different time and context with different people. When you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford Rihanna as the face of your new campaign, why not distribute it to Youtube and Instagram influencers so they can tell their followers about it?
So why does it cost as much as it costs? Because this bloggers and influencers are doing it all on their own! You as a brand don’t need to rent out a studio to do a photoshoot or pay a bunch of directors, producers and photographers to do it for you because influencer or a blogger will do it by themselves.
Jorden Tually is Australian content creator and successful Instagrammer, Youtuber and photographer who is traveling the world while documenting his adventures through social media. He has a blog, Youtube channel and an amazing Instagram where he’s sharing his travels, engages with people who follow him but also posts content sponsored by brands who hired him. I wanted to know his experience with brands who reach out to him for a possible collaboration and if he ever had any bad experiences due to prices. Here’s what he said:
“This happens all the time, many brands want to give you a free product in exchange for free promotion! Sadly I also need to pay bills and make a living so it doesn’t work this way. You will see the difference between paid jobs and free jobs that is for sure. The saying ‘You get what you pay for’ couldn’t be truer in this case.”
How and where to start?
So you’re a business owner, working in marketing for some company or a brand and want to try out effects of influencer marketing in some sort of campaign and don’t really know where to start?
It’s important to state that you can’t expect results right away. Don’t think people will hurl to buy everything there is in your webshop just because some influencer you hired posted a couple of Instagram Stories praising your work. It doesn’t work like that. Influencer marketing isn’t about quick payouts. Tailor your approach to it: look at it as a way of spreading awareness of your brand, gaining some new followers who will later, thanks to your complete brand strategy, convert into customers. Think of influencer marketing as one of many segments of your general marketing strategy, don’t make it your entire strategy!
Jorden Tually thinks “a great brand knows how to create genuine content and a good relationship with the content creator or influencer.” He believes that this is done by giving the content creator creative control within the campaign: “If the influencer doesn’t like what they are creating or are not passionate about the job, it is not going to have a big effect on the outcome and won’t be successful for either party.” For example, he declines brands if they want to take control of his creative style and force him into creating something or writing a caption that he would never write. “Creative control is very important to me”, says Jorden.
Lay the groundwork
Once you’ve decided to invest in influencer marketing, do your research. Just because some influencer has a large number of followers, that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to promote your business the right way even if they accept. Some influencers will promote anything because, well, you pay them to do so.
But wouldn’t it be better to pay someone whose audience will actually be interested in your product or service? For example, if you’re producing organic face mask, obviously it would make more sense to collaborate with a beauty blogger even if he/she has fewer followers that some influencer who is popular among gamers. Not everything is in the numbers! Like Jorden said, if the influencer doesn’t like what they are creating or are not passionate about the job, it is not going to have a big effect on the outcome and won’t be successful for your brand or hired influencers.
So, once you’ve curated a list of influencers you’d like to work with, be sure to pitch them your idea of collaboration the right way. Don’t assume they know about your brand or company. Introduce yourself in that first email you’re sending them, give a little background and explain why you’re reaching out to them. Don’t say you want to work with them just because you need the benefit of their influence among your target audience – that would turn off anyone from collaborating with you. Sure, it’s honest – but maybe not very nice?
Also, once they’ve expressed their interest in working with you, make sure they are the right fit for you and your campaign – ask them for the media kit to see how many followers they have on which channel, their engagement rate, with which brands they’ve worked before etc. There are a lot of tools you can use, such as Klear, Tapinfluence, and Upfluence to check if someone is a real influencer or if they bought most of their followers and are just faking their success.
Make sure you explain to influencers you’ll work with that you want to be transparent about their partnerships. In the early days of influencer marketing on Instagram or Youtube, not every brand was as open as they should’ve been about working with some of people’s favorite social media stars or influencer. They were creating content promoting products and services without disclosing they were being paid for it and, eventually, people started to notice. So back in 2017, FTC clarified what brands and influencers need to do when working with brands and creating sponsored content. So save yourself legal troubles and make sure influencers you work with clearly disclose they are actually working with you.
Lastly, state up front you want to see the results of their work. You do have the right to do so, but don’t get your expectations too high. For example, for Jorden, sending out results of the campaign is quite normal:
“After the campaign is complete, I send off all the stats, engagement and reach to the client. This part of the job is quite easy because it is out of your control, sometimes Instagram loves a photo and sometimes not so much. What is done is done, if the company deems it successful they will most likely follow up with more work in the future and if not we go our separate ways. The key here is to clarify and iron out all the details before you create and post so that you are being super transparent with the brand, that way they know what to expect.”