Influencer marketing has become quite popular for brand marketing. Research from #paid and Nielsen Consumer Insights shows that, on average, influencer marketing results in a 60% greater shift in Brand Perception Metrics and is over 2x more likely to engage viewers than television commercials. No wonder brands are flocking to influencers in hoards to help sell their products and services!
However, the past year has been fraught with complaints regarding brand-safe influencer marketing—who could forget YouTube celebrity/influencer Logan Paul’s disaster? Despite the risks, it appears this trend won’t stop anytime soon. In fact, 59% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget within the next year. Wondering how you can get the most out of influencer marketing while maintaining brand safety and the trust of your customers? Check out these tips:
Follow FTC Guidelines for Influencer Marketing: In the early days of influencer marketing on social media, not every brand was as transparent as they should’ve been about working with social media stars or celebrities. Many influencers created Instagram posts, YouTube videos and other content promoting products without disclosing they were being paid for it. In 2017, the FTC cracked down on this practice. The best way to avoid a legal or PR disaster is to make sure the influencers you work with clearly disclose that they’re being compensated for promoting your brand. It’s as simple as putting #ad or #sponsored in their post. Instagram has made the process even easier with its branded content option. With this feature, the influencers you work with can easily (and clearly) disclose when a post they share is part of a brand partnership.
Do your research: There are three simple ways to separate real influencers from those who have paid to build their followings. First, look at their engagement to follower ratio. If an influencer has many followers but routinely only gets a couple hundred likes and a handful of comments, it’s likely majority of the audience is fraudulent. Next, closely examine their posts and captions. If they regularly post generic captions or constantly retweet/share messages that don’t match their aesthetic, pass on the partnership. Authentic influencers love sharing deeper messages that truly engage their audiences. Lastly, look at the engagement quality from their followers. If the comments are generic rather than genuine, you’re going to have a bad time.
Have an amplification plan: The best way to ensure brands and influencers are on the same page when it comes to promoting content is to have an amplification plan. This plan should clearly outline content strategy (what content will look like, when it will be promoted, how it will be shared, etc.) as well as goals and anticipated outcomes (KPIs). Having a clear plan of action and desired results is the easiest way to avoid misunderstandings and increase the odds of the campaign’s success.
Ask for references: There’s a good chance that your influencer has worked with other brands in the past. Don’t be afraid to reach out to ask for references. If other brands have had a negative experience, you’ll quickly find out.
Keep an eye on your influencer’s channels: Whether you are currently collaborating on a campaign, or plan to in the future, it’s important to monitor your influencer’s content. It doesn’t happen often, but there are harsh consequences for brands when their influencers go rogue. Being attentive to your influencer’s content will give you an opportunity to get in front of any problems that should arise and give you time to run damage control.
Hire specialists to manage influencer marketing: Not sure if you’re ready to dive into the world of influencer marketing alone? Partner with an organization specializing in influencer marketing to help you vet candidates and manage potential problems. Whether it’s a partner agency or an influencer marketing platform, they know influencers’ reputations for working with brands, recognize clear signs of rogue behaviour, and understand how to maintain brand-safety during campaigns so they can be an extremely valuable resource.
Draft a contract: Wondering if your brand will own the content that is produced by the influencer you’re paying for your campaign? The answer is a little more complicated than you might think. Brands pay the influencer to create content for them but it’s the influencers who retain the rights to their content. This means that brands cannot recreate or reuse the content from the campaign without the influencer’s consent. It also means that the brand has no legal right to ask the influencer to remove content should the influencer go rogue. Sound scary? This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Brands can stipulate in their influencer contracts to have the exclusive right to use the content for a certain period (or indefinitely.) They may also choose to continue to allow influencers to own the content but have the right to re-use it for future campaigns and in advertisements. The easiest way to alleviate concerns about brand safety and controlling content associated with your brand is to ensure you have a contract outlining content ownership and intellectual property rights. If this seems like a daunting task, enlist in a partner agency to take care of the influencer contract for you.
Maintaining a clean, brand-safe partnership with influencers can help nurture a positive relationship with customers. While most influencer/brand collaborations are successful and mutually beneficial, all partnerships come with some risk. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid influencer marketing entirely; you just need to be prepared. The influencer market will continue to grow so it’s imperative that brand safety is front of mind as marketers enter into partnerships with influencers.