At the Festival of Marketing this morning YouTube superstar Fleur De Force gave her views on how brands should approach influencers, how to measure campaigns, and the thorny issue of disclosure.

Here’s a snapshot of what she had to say:

What sort of brands appeal to influencers?

It’s all down to the influencer, but it’s normally quite a natural fit, so if someone approaches me then I’ll know immediately if I want to work with them.

Normally I’ll be a brand that I’m already talking about.

The most important thing is keeping the audience happy. 

With sponsored content in particular, you have to prioritise the relationship with the audience rather than a one-off deal.

It has to be a natural fit, and you need to know your audience will react well to it.

I always insist on trying the product first so I know it’s quality.

Does brand heritage matter?

A majority of my content is around beauty, so a lot of it comes down to quality of the product.

There are obviously huge brands that I love and it’s really exciting to get approached by them, like Estee Lauder.

But when it comes to new brands you have to just do your research about the company and test the products to see if you like them.

What generates the most ROI for brands?

It really depends on the brand’s objectives and whether they’re after sales or awareness or whatever.

For me, if a brand is looking to increase sales then showing a product in action in a natural setting is really powerful.

Video is so powerful as you can show what a product really looks like, rather than on a model on a catwalk.

What metrics do you tend to look at for sponsored content?

The view count is obviously important, but I look at how people react, particularly the comments.

Obviously if view count is half my normal level then it’s an issue, but I look at reaction ahead of views.

Do brands use the same metrics for success as you?

Brands often have view count stuck in their mind, which does make sense. 

But it’s more about reaching the right kind of people, not just sheer numbers.

Some brands want sales, or comments or something else, but it’s worth communicating that to the influencer beforehand as they might have a better idea of what videos achieve each goal.

How often do you push for full creative control?

Always! It’s always a conversation and a relationship between me and the brand.

The best projects I’ve worked on are where brands say ‘this is our product, this is our plan, do you have any ideas around it.’

Brands should always have a conversation with an influencer, even before they’ve written the brief.

Just put the feelers out and let them know what you’re thinking, ask them for input earlier on. You’ll probably get a better campaign out of it.

Can mid-range influencers exert the same level of control?

Less so. They often get put into a blanket campaign, and it’s ‘here are the deliverables, this is the hashtag, this is what you have to say.’

But it’s always good to tailor it to the individual influencers and listen to their feedback. They know what is good for their audience.

It’s so awkward when lots of YouTubers post the same thing at the same time.

I always ask who else is on a campaign, when are they posting, is it all the same content?

Econsultancy’s research found that 33% of influencers don’t always give full disclosure. How do you feel about it?

I have very strong views on this. The most important thing is the relationship with the audience. 

If something is sponsored and you haven’t disclosed it, they know. The way you talk about the product is slightly different, and they know straight away.

They’ll lose that trust in you, and they can unsubscribe straight away.

I want to collaborate with brands I love, so there’s no problem disclosing it.

And you get comments from people saying: ‘It’s great that you’re working with this brand that you love.’

Instagram is worse for people failing to disclose sponsorship. They’ve clamped down on YouTube but Instagram less so.

If you’re in digital for the long game, you’re stupid not to disclose sponsorship.

How have deals with brands evolved over the years?

Things tend to be longer term, like year-long deals.

Deals now are part of a much bigger package, across numerous different channels.

With long-term deals it’s very important to speak to influencer. Each influencer has a different uploading schedule.

I’m working on a project where they wanted one blog post a week, but I only publish a couple of articles a week anyway so that would be way too much sponsored content on that channel and it wouldn’t work.

So rather than just blanket requirements, you need to speak to the influencers and tailor things accordingly. Have it planned out from the start.

What about payments trends?

Obviously as my audience has grown my remuneration rate has changed and gone up.

But it depends on the platform, some people might be really strong on one platform and less so on another.

My rate on YouTube would be very different to Instagram, for example.

And things have changed in regards to the platforms brands are interested in. 

Instagram and YouTube are definitely the most popular ones, while my blog is now seen as supporting that activity.

Finally, what’s your opinion of Facebook Live?

I haven’t really used it! It’s obviously a step up from Google Hangouts though.

I am considering using it for a few future projects where it might work well, such as with Q&As.

The emergence of new platforms is difficult, because in your personal life you don’t know which ones to use, but for me it’s my full time job.

Like when Instagram Stories came out you then wonder what it means for Snapchat.

And you don’t want to be duplicating content across all these different channels, so you have to work out which ones are best for your audience.

There are already so many platforms and only so much time in the day!

For more on influencers, see: