For marketers looking to gain exposure for their brands and reach new customers, Influencer marketing continues to be the flavor of the month. In a recent study, influencer marketing stood out as the fastest growing online customer acquisition method, with 85% of marketers judging influencer marketing to be effective.
It may come as a surprise then to hear, that many brands that have recently dipped their toes into the influencer marketing pool, have walked away feeling extremely disheartened with the whole experience. Like many others, they were inspired by the influencer marketing success stories, detailing how startup brands grew into thriving multi-million dollar businesses. However unlike the stories they read about, their own foray into influencer marketing ended up in frustration and disappointment.
The hard truth for most of these brands is their influencer marketing failure was their own fault. It came from a desire for short term results, without understanding that using influencers for social media marketing has to be a carefully planned, long term strategy.
We live in an age where authenticity is everything, meaning building trust with your customers is critical for business growth and success. Running an influencer marketing campaign based on relationships that don’t really exist or aren’t authentic is not going to create that trust. Quite possibly it’s likely to do your brand damage.
Sounds harsh right? Well, paying influencers to promote your product to boost sales when they don’t really care about or like your product is rarely going to work. Their followers, aka your potential customers, are smart and will quickly spot a post where the influencer is clearly just doing the job to pay the rent.
If your influencer marketing efforts aren’t connecting with your intended audience, then most likely you need to re-evaluate the way you are collaborating with influencers and adjust your approach. Here are four simple yet essential tips that will help you build authenticity and get your influencer marketing efforts back on track.
1. Own and manage your influencer relationships
Whilst there are a myriad of Social and PR agencies willing to connect you with the ‘right’ influencers, having involvement in identifying and building those relationships is critical. Only by getting to know the influencer directly will you be able to assess whether the right chemistry exists on both sides and establish a more valuable ongoing relationship. Influencers, in it for the right reasons, will feel exactly the same way.
By putting the effort into building and managing genuine influencer relationships yourself, collaborations together will be more believable and generate better engagement, because they are based on something that’s real. Brands need to take this responsibility back from the agencies.
2. Choose influencers with a lifestyle that makes sense for your brand
Having put in countless hours and sleepless nights getting your product to market, you will no doubt understand your target audience better than most. Yet a simple mistake made by many brands is choosing influencers solely based on how big they are or how much engagement they get, without paying enough attention to their specific lifestyle choices.
It’s important your story is told, by influencers whose lifestyle is closely in-line with your brand’s target consumer demographic e.g. if you are selling an organic skin care product, look for influencers that choose organic as part of their own healthy lifestyle. If the match is authentic, their audience will almost certainly connect with the content. After all, it’s probably the influencer’s lifestyle choices that got them their following in the first place.
Understanding an influencer’s audience demographic isn’t always easy, but by doing your research on their previous posts, and by asking them what they’re passionate about, you will get a good idea about whether your product will resonate with their audience. Whilst engagement is important when it comes to the price you are paying, the wrong influencer puts you in front of the wrong target audience and your money will be wasted.
3. Get the influencer to tell real stories
One of the common traps brands fall into when collaborating with influencers, is trying to over control the content being created in the posts. The last thing people want popping up in their social feeds is the same pre-scripted, over-aspirational brand messages. Audiences will immediately spot this uninspired content and it will almost certainly fail to resonate with them.
Rather than being bombarded with what is clearly a sponsored ad, people would rather learn about a product more organically, through content they find themselves. As a brand this means you need to be bold enough to give influencers the creative freedom to speak about you in an open and authentic manner. An influencer marketing campaign run this way will create a more complete story, by delivering multiple unique messages about your brand, told by passionate influencers in their own individual voices.
4. Focus on building authentic long-term relationships
Brands that see the most success with influencer marketing have learned to develop long term relationships with their best influencers and collaborate with them regularly. Just like in traditional advertising, repetition creates familiarity, so the more frequently an influencer talks about a product they love, the more likely it is that their audience will sit up and take notice. This means you’re going to need to build long term authentic relationships with your influencers.
To get started, you can and should engage with as many potential influencers as you can, because as these relationships develop, every dozen or so seemingly good matches will eventually filter down to just a select few influencers you use on a regularly basis. The effort however, will be worth it, because those few genuine relationships will speak louder and more effectively than a dozen less authentic ones.
When trying to build brand awareness it’s critical to strike a real accord with your target audience. The desire for immediate short term results often leads to poor choices when it comes to selecting influencers that are the right strategic fit for your brand. The result is uninspired content that lacks authenticity and an influencer marketing campaign that falls well short of your hopes and expectations.
Influencer marketing executed the right way looks totally different. It is based on building long-term authentic relationships with influencers that are passionate about your brand, and want to share real stories about your products in their own individual voices. After all it’s these genuine word-of-mouth recommendations that consumers look for when deciding to purchase.
David Duncan is one of the Co-Founders at BrandSnob, an influencer marketplace that helps brands book influencers on demand.