Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing types of advertising media today, with major retail brands like Boohoo and ASOS benefiting from it. According to surveys, 90% of marketers now use some form of influencer marketing strategy and it’s seen by many as one of the best online acquisition methods for new customers and to grow loyalty.
The industry is expected to top £7.7bn next year. We have seen a paradigm shift in our society where social media influencers are the stars and have huge pulling power for brands. As publishers of engaging content, they can drive considerable sales for retailers and brands. The diagram below shows how the top ones are now creating their own brands through evolution, starting with product endorsement.
The BCMA, Branded Content Marketing Association launched a new Influencer division in the summer to help promote the values of using and working with accredited influencers. This is an important move for brands to feel confident in working with the best influencer agencies and platforms, as well as the individuals themselves.
How do you find the right influencer?
Authenticity is paramount. You want someone who has a passion for what they do, as well as having a high engagement rate. This simply means that their followers are liking, commenting and sharing. Sometimes, its easy to get hung up on the size of the follower base. The more niche they are, sometimes the better. A campaign last year for skincare brand Dermalogica partnered with Made in Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo. The reason, Georgia had herself battled with skin problems and the brand contacted her soon after she appeared on a TV programme sharing her issues. The campaign was filmed in her bathroom carrying out her skincare routine. The product sold out in all retailers within two weeks of the campaign launch. Year on year sales of the product increased by 94% and the campaign reached 5.4m of their target audience. You want influencers to love your product, with it being believable they would buy it anyway. Many influencers are very picky about the collaborations they work with as they need to make sure it resonates and reflects their audience.
You can of course try to find influencers yourself on Instagram or Youtube, but you may benefit from many of the influencer SAS platforms or working with a specialist agency that can help guide you through this. You should consider this approach to start with. Campaigns only go wrong when the right process hasn’t been followed, or the wrong influencers are selected.
How long should a campaign last for?
Often, influencers are brought into a campaign that involves a range of media, so typically, they would last around 6 weeks. More and more brands are now investing in longer term partnerships like ambassador programmes, which can create long-term benefits.
Gifted or paid?
Influencers will work with all sorts of brand partnerships. Sometimes they will post about a restaurant or hotel and no payment would be made. However, content creators have to put a lot of time and effort into creating the right content and a lot more goes into this than many would realise, meaning many are paid. You wouldn’t expect to get an advert in a magazine for free, would you? There is no set fee for posts, as this is often negotiated and a number of variables and relevance comes into play. Many start ups and smaller businesses find influencer marketing a far greater return on their investment, as they don’t have large marketing budgets.
What should be in the influencer contract?
Its very important that the expectations are managed through a proper influencer contract, as it can create a disastrous campaign, if certain elements aren’t managed. Contracts protect both parties, particularly if it involves rights of intellectual property. An example of when this can have dire consequences was with social media star Luka Sabbat neglected to fulfil a signed agreement for Snapchat without pre-approval and failed to get agreement on pre-approved Instagram stories. PR consulting Inc who represent Snapchat filed a public lawsuit against the actor. Here are some points to consider or include:
`1. Which parties are involved in the campaign, including influencer, talent and any others that may have an impact on the campaign.
2. How long the agreement will last – will it be a single post, or a series of activations across different media platforms?.
3. Territories – its important to be specific about this. Some influencers have strong followings in certain countries and this should always be considered during the selection process. It’s another reason to consider working with an influencer platform.
4. Format of content – Influencers understand their audience well and what type of content resonates with them. For example, are they being required to do a series of live videos eg reviewing a new make up line? The key here is the authenticity of the delivery, and what works best is when brand and influencer decide on the format together.
5. Volume and frequency of content – This is one area that is clearly quantifiable and should be laid out explicitly from the start. If multiple pieces of content are required as part of the endorsement, this needs to be stipulated. Allocating figures to each piece of activity ensures distinct KPIs are in place to measure the overall success of the campaign.
6. Supporting channels – With such a variety of social media platforms for influencers to create content, it’s important to be specific and agree this in advance, for example, a video on YouTube and Snapchat. This is because there will be a different follower base on each platform.
7. Content reviews – Is approval required for branded posts before publication? If so, which pieces? From here, you can work backwards to allow enough time for the verification.process.
8. Timeline – its one of the most important elements to include a timeline of activity and deadlines. The purpose of this is to ensure maximum impact and visibility on both sides. It’s also designed to ensure that there is enough time for planning and scheduling.
9. Key messaging – this is to ensure the correct tags are listed, calls to action, credits and relevant links are included. It’s important not to be so prescriptive, as you want the authenticity of the post to come from the tone of voice from the influencer. It’s also important to highlight the do’s and don’ts, e.g. no profanity or potentially damaging words which could negatively impact the brand.
10. Disclosure terms – the law requires that consumers must not be mislead and therefore all branded posts should come with the appropriate #Ad. The agreement should also stipulate the importance of putting this at the start of the post and not be buried in links.
11. Image manipulation – if the brand provides assets/logos or other imagery, it must be made clear to what extent these can be altered. Brands should steer clear of unnecessary cosmetic alterations, or those which may distort the integrity of the image.
12 Exclusivity – it’s important to stipulate any rules regarding activity with direct competitors, as well as which types of brands are being referred to. This period of exclusivity may also need to be expressly detailed.
13. Payment terms – this is one of the most important elements of the contract. Any agreement should outline within which time period payment should be made, and in what form. It is also worth stating within the section why payment maybe withheld, e.g. breach of contract.
14. Safeguarding and cancellation – an influencer contract should be mutually beneficial, but in the brand perspective, needs to keep a company protected in the eyes of the law should an influencer breach the terms. It should also be worth considering if the influencer becomes involved in media controversy to what extent the company may break ties with them. An example of this would be when Disney severed its relationship with YouTuber star PewDiePie, following comments which offended people.
How do you measure influencer marketing?
- Number of social media followers, or fans
- Engagement on content platforms such as personal blogs or LinkedIn Publishing
- Content shares of their articles
- Referral web clicks
- Number of votes on polls
- Video views and view time
Credit: Gordon Glenister, global head of Influencer marketing at the Branded Content Marketing Association