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Partnering with social media influencers (e.g. YouTubers, Instagrammers, Snapchatters, Viners, bloggers, and vloggers) to create sponsored content, promote an event or product, or “takeover” a company’s social media channel is an extremely effective way for brands to engage with an influencer’s followers and increase brand awareness among thousands or millions of attentive consumers. As brand collaborations with social media influencers become more prevalent—84% of companies plan to launch at least one marketing campaign involving influencers, according to a May 2015 study detailed in eMarketer—it’s now increasingly important that businesses understand the best ways to establish partnerships, create content, and develop campaigns with today’s top social media stars.
In order to cultivate a positive relationship with social media influencers and ensure the success of influencer marketing campaigns, brands and marketers should avoid the following 6 items:
Authenticity is essential to the success of a brand’s sponsored content with influencers. Difficult as it may be, surrendering creative control to social media influencers will ensure that the brand is represented in a way that maintains the integrity of both the sponsoring company and the influencer while appealing to the YouTuber, Instagrammer, Snapchatter, or Viner’s audience. Developing a relationship with the social media influencer—including doing research on the content they publish—also goes a long way toward aligning a brand’s interests with an influencer’s personality and audience.
Forcing a social media influencer to follow a script is the fastest way to create content that is inauthentic, stale, and will likely receive little or no engagement. Most digital stars will be unwilling to compromise their integrity and risk being branded a “sell out” to deliver a brand’s messaging word-for-word. Companies that want to work with influencers, take note: instead of telling an influencer exactly what to say, give them a set of talking points and allow them to put stories, reviews, or experiences about your brand into their own words.
For tips on developing a successful influencer marketing campaign strategy, read our post here.
While resharing or redistributing a single piece of influencer-generated content (like a sponsored Instagram post, a Snapchat Story, or a YouTube video) across multiple social media channels or on a company’s website can be an effective way to maximize each influencer marketing campaign’s reach, brands should consult with social media influencers before recycling content intended for a specific audience and created for a specific campaign and/or social media channel. Republishing content without permission and/or without giving credit to the social media star may at the very least adversely affect the company’s relationship with the digital influencer and at worst, tarnish the brand’s reputation amongst both influencers and audiences.
Social media influencers often express frustration when brands approach them about an influencer marketing collaboration before establishing exactly what they hope to accomplish (goals) and what message they want the YouTuber, Instagrammer, Viner, Snapchatter, or blogger to convey (messaging) through their content. Knowing the campaign goals, objectives, and key touch points before reaching out to a digital star will start each influencer marketing collaboration off on the right foot and prevent time-consuming revisions and unnecessary back-and-forth communication throughout the development and implementation of each campaign.
For more information on how brands measure the success of social media marketing campaigns, see our article here.
To avoid alienating an influencer’s audience (and thus jeopardizing the success of the campaign), brands should be careful when making unreasonable requests of their social media stars. Demands regarding overt product placements, gratuitous brand mentions, or brand mentions within the first 15 seconds of a YouTube video (arguably the most important part of a video) are just a few of the ways that brands can compromise the quality and authenticity of an influencer’s content.
Too often, brands fail to remember that social media influencers are successful because they are extremely adept at engaging audiences and creating authentic content in their own unique voice. To that end, if an influencer says that something will or will not work for their particular audience, they probably are right. As YouTuber Dodie Clark (Doddleoddle) points out in the video below, the best way for brands to develop a positive working relationship with social media influencers is simply by listening to them and trusting that they know what’s best for their content, audience, and channel.