As more brands turn to social media to reach and engage consumers, many naturally choose to work with influencers to front campaigns.
The process isn’t always easy, of course.
As highlighted in Econsultancy’s Voice of the Influencer report, there appears to be somewhat of a power struggle between brands and influencers, with the main challenges involving strategy and motivation.
So, here’s a bit of insight into the biggest mistakes brands can make, and why it’s important to avoid them.
Choosing influence over authenticity
The natural instinct for brands is to choose an influencer with the largest audience. While this makes sense in theory – as in the bigger the influence, the greater the reach – it can also backfire.
This is because real influence comes from a sense of authenticity. In other words, a person who is staying true to their own beliefs or values, and in turn, promoting a product that somehow reflects this.
It’s recently been proven that micro influencers (those with 500 to 10,000 followers) generate greater engagement that those with a larger audience. So, just like you might be more inclined to trust the opinion of a friend rather than a celebrity, consumers are more likely to trust someone with a smaller reach but who is a respected authority on a particular topic.
For brands, it’s important to get this balance right, choosing the person whose identity best fits the campaign rather than chasing who is the most popular.
Read why Iceland has chosen to work with micro influencers instead of celebrities.
Despite 93% of influencers believing that they should be in charge the narrative of a campaign – brands often struggle to relinquish control.
Historically, brands determine everything from the copy to the look and design of a campaign. However, with many influencers used to creating their own content, complex negotiation is required to determine exactly what will be said or how it will be done.
The key appears to be compromise – especially when it comes to brand marketing messages.
On a platform such as Instagram, for example, overly branded images can come across as unnatural and disruptive to the style of the feed. So, while it’s important for branded messages to be included, it’s also crucial that influencers incorporate them in a natural and subtle way.
The below example strikes me as one that gets the balance right.
Watch brand Daniel Wellington worked with a number of lifestyle influencers on Instagram. It chose selectively, however, only teaming up with bloggers whose feed already reflects the brand’s pared down aesthetic.
While a discount code was included to drive sales, the product itself was barely highlighted, being a small part of the overall image.
This leads us nicely onto the next common mistake, which is flooding users with multiple messages or posts relating to a campaign.
Influencer marketing is built on the notion that the audience already exists – the brand is simply using the influencer as the vehicle to send the audience a message.
Consequently, it is easy to alienate audiences (who are coming to a channel for a certain type of post) by bombarding them with brand slogans.
This means that subtle campaigns, such as one-off posts, can be more effective. Alternatively, using multiple influencers in a campaign hosted on the brand’s own marketing channels, such as Styld.by from Gap, uses storytelling elements rather than blatant advertising.
— Gap (@Gap) July 19, 2016
Focusing on the numbers
Lastly, with 75% of influencers citing frustration over reach and follower figures being of primary importance to brands, it again falls to marketers to change the perception of sponsorship deals.
Like choosing influence over authenticity, brands can make the mistake of measuring success in terms of reach or sales following a campaign.
Rather, factors like positive sentiment, increased awareness and online interaction can be equally important measures of success (for both brands and influencers alike).
Dodi Clark, a YouTuber and musician, speaking about her brand-related troubles.