Influencers should be influential, right?

No doubt if you own a brand or work in marketing / communications you’ve considered working with influencers at one point or another. It seems to be the done thing at the moment, and it’s easy to be swept up in the hype of someone with 200K followers. 

Recently I spoke at an event for The League Of Extraordinary Women about the power of digital influencers. Or as I’d rather refer to it, about my skepticism of the true value influencers provide to brands. 

I work in an industry where influencers are considered the ‘new gen’ media and other professionals in the space are touting how they’re the way of the future. People in Communications are predicting the death of media outlets as we know it and the rise and status of the humble influencer. In some ways this is true, but the influencer realm has a long way to go before it can replace the power of genuine editorial, or the power of cleverly crafted advertising and marketing techniques. 

Here we look at what you should know and consider before working with influencers. 

Transparency of data BEFORE you engage an influencer. 

Imagine if you were creating an advertising campaign with News Corp and they said you had to commit to a $20,000 advertising spend before they handed over any information about their audience or what publications they’re going to place your ads in. 

You wouldn’t ever dream of giving them your hard earned marketing cash, right? And you’d have a hard time justifying that spend to your CFO, no doubt. 

Well it’s the same for influencers. There seems to be a real lack of transparency over influencer data. Sure, we can see their ‘reach’ on their profile, and sure if you know how to calculate it,  you can see their ‘engagement’. But there is a reason we’ve put those two words in inverted commas, these days you can buy followers and you can buy engagement. So these vanity metrics you’re often given are pointless and will not help to shape your influencer strategy. 

You need real data. You need to see the backend of their Instagram and Facebook accounts to understand where their audience is from, how old they are, what posts they engage with, and determine whether their following is genuine. 

If you’re not given this, avoid this influencer. It’s as simple as that. 

Is their audience right for you? 

Once you have the data, you need to really look at it. Like really, really look at it. You need to ask whether their audience is right for your brand. 

You could often think that a beer company would work well with a cool, young male actor from Neighbours. But by taking a look at his data, you may end up finding that his audience is predominately young females who are under the age of 18. The other words, not in the market for craft beer. 

This is why it is so important to not only have access to data, but to deep dive into it to understand whether an influencer is the right fit. You are essentially engaging with the influencer’s audience, so if their reach isn’t right for your brand, you’re wasting your time and money. 

Avoid sponsored posts after sponsored posts. 

The same way you skip over the advertisements in magazines, consumers skip past influencers who post sponsored content after sponsored content. It loses credibility, it creates too much cluttered noise, and loses impact for your brand. 

Think of an influencer’s feed like a magazine. There should be editorial (real, life genuine content) in between the ads. 

Take a look at what other brands influencers are working with or have worked with to understand how you can fit into the mix, and whether you should even bother fitting into the mix. And, don’t be afraid to ask them or their management who else they are currently working with. When you’re investing money in a campaign like this, you hold a lot of the power, so ask the right questions. 

Foster a long term relationship. 

Consumers are smart and social media is crowded. 

Where you can, look at generating genuine, long-term partnerships with influencers. This creates authenticity as their audience is seeing your brand across their pages again and again. It highlights they genuinely love your brand and use your product or service. You’ll see far more results  from a longer term engagement than a shorter one, we promise. 

Manual is normally always best. 

There are plenty of influencer platforms out there – where you can post campaigns, send posts live and often *cough, always* pay inflated prices to these influencers. These platforms are great if you are time poor and have an endless marketing budget, but that’s not the reality for many. 

If you need a hand and want to turn to a platform rather than an agency, look at Scrunch – an amazing female lead Australian start-up that is by far (in my opinion) the market leader in influencer platforms. Scrunch can give you all of the analytics you need to make a sound decision in your influencer campaign. Remember, knowledge is power.

Working with influencers can be effective. It can drive real results. But you need to understand the game you’re playing, and make clever, calculated moves within it to ensure you’re coming out on top. The above are just some of the ways you can get ahead in the cluttered and noisy realm of influencers.

Do you have any thoughts on this topic? We’d love to hear them – get in touch!