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How to do Influencer Marketing the Right Way

July, 2019

Brands like to think their marketing and branding efforts alone would be enough to hold credibility with consumers. But generally speaking, people respect people, not a faceless line of products. It's human nature. So what is a brand to do?

In the past, celebrity endorsements were the bridge over the credibility gap. We have all seen superstar athletes like Shaquille O'Neal sell muscle ache relief creams to movie stars like Jennifer Aniston promote lotions and makeup. If the brand had the budget for it, it was the perfect solution. Smaller brands were out of luck.

In the all-digital age, however, influencers solve the credibility problem for all brands, large and small. The term influencer marketing has existed for a long time, but how many marketers and brand managers truly understand how to best use the concept as a winning marketing strategy?

Find Who Aligns With Your Brand

One of the first steps to utilizing influencer marketing as a strategy is understanding what the brand is and who fits the messaging of the brand. Knowing what the brand is to different segments of its audience is crucial to brand managers and marketers. Marketing and having a brand voice can help steer the direction of a brand but at the end of the day, it is the consumer that has to interpret this information.

With that being said, not every potential influencer aligns with what the brand looks and feels like to consumers. Doing research about who is a thought leader for your different audiences can pay dividends, as opposed to running to the biggest names on social media or in the blogosphere. The influencers that are right for your brand may not have the most followers (more on this later), but they have the potential to connect better with the image your brand wants to portray.

Don’t Fall For Vanity Metrics

Many top influencers keep tabs on their metrics to share with potential brand partners, but which ones matter? Vanity metrics may look good, but they don’t add any value and are not actionable. A marketer must be discerning enough to know which metrics influencers share are important and which only look good on paper.

Some of these vanity metrics may be familiar to you as you are probably already ignoring them in your brand’s social media strategy. One of the most common vanity metrics is the follower count of an influencer. Followers are not a reliable indicator of how an influencer can drive people to action. A recent example of this is an Instagram personality with more than two million followers that was unable to sell 36 t-shirts, the minimum required for continued production of her clothing.

While the aforementioned product launch did have its problems, it’s a cautionary tale about metrics for marketers looking for influencers for their brand. Chasing after whoever has the most followers or likes does not always translate to real conversions when it comes to purchasing decisions. Try to find influencers that post content relevant to your brand’s niche, have high engagement and can expose your brand to new clientele.

Give Up Some Content Control

A completely brand manufactured sponsored post just does not resonate like many marketers think they do. With the amount of content available to consumers through social media, many brands (and probably yours) have turned to storytelling to cut through the clutter. So why not let your influencer take control?

Going this route is not without its risks. Giving someone not on the brand team free reign without any guidelines can expose brands to controversy if an influencer crosses a line in a sponsored post. Celebrities and influencers as large as Kim Kardashian have gotten into trouble with the Food and Drug Administration over not following regulation related to medicine.

The best way to go about giving up some control to your influencer is to implement some guidelines but let their voice do the rest. An influencer that truly understands the brand and what it means to them and consumers will be far less likely to overstep than one that does not. And the most important thing is that you chose the influencer for a reason! That reason is their voice that resonates with your target audience. Try not to stifle that voice with stiff impersonal sponsored posts.

Influencer Marketing is Here to Stay

Even though some have tried to sound the death knell of influencers, the market continues to grow year over year. Some reports have the industry reaching $10 billion by 2020. With marketers needing to connect with consumers in the age of content overload and ad-blocking software, reaching out to and partnering with the right influencer presents opportunities for major growth for brands.

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Last Edited on May 25, 2018