Influencers know their followers best
We can’t deny that influencer marketing is increasing in demand all the time. A recent survey by inc.com revealed that 84 per cent of marketers said they are planning to launch at least one influencer campaign this year. It is one of the reasons many young women and men feel compelled to jump on the Instagram bandwagon and work on increasing their followers in the hope of getting a slice of what marketers might offer them in return.
A colleague recently asked me to review a list of influencers that her employer, a real estate developer, wanted to invite to a gala where they would be announcing one of their biggest projects to date. They wanted to create a big online buzz about the event so had compiled this list of regional social influencers. While the list included several famous social influencers, many were irrelevant to this particular brand. One of them, for example, was a teenage comedian, who, while very popular on Instagram with youngsters, did not fit the target audience the company was trying to reach. Others seemed similarly out of place, so I reviewed the list and sent it back with my recommendations.
I speak to clients continually through my consultancy about influencer marketing, and many are under the impression that you just choose the person with the most followers, negotiate the price per post uploaded, have the post uploaded and then see how your business profits soar as a result. As easy as that sounds, it is also highly ineffective. It bothers me how many reputable organisations still fall into this trap, choosing to work with influencers who are not relevant to their market or audience. So, here are a number of factors to consider when planning your influencer marketing campaign:
• Consider engagement and not just the number of followers
Many brands complain to me that working with influencer X did not work out, or it did not lead to the sales figure they had in mind. Choose influencers who are engaged with their users, who do not rely solely on their number of followers. See how users interact with the posts these influencers upload, how many views their videos generate and how many followers actually hit that “like” button. Many “influencers” have a large number of followers but relatively low engagement on their uploaded posts. In that case, you need an influencer whose audience members enjoy engaging with them rather than someone with a vast following. At the end of the day, you want users to stop and actually read, view and interact with the post.
• Allow influencers to market your product their way
While brands may want a certain review to be posted or want to assume full control of the post the influencer makes, I highly recommend letting the influencer come up with the idea for the post. You do not want your post to scream: “sponsored post”. The influencer became an influencer because they know their followers best and know what kind of content they like. Let them handle it so that it appears organic, less commercial and results in more engagement. Yes, you should discuss your marketing objectives and what you would like to achieve and yes, you should have the final say before a post is uploaded. However, it is best to allow the influencer to communicate in their native voice.
• Ask around
If you know certain brands have worked with influencer X, approach the team and ask how that relationship worked out. Did they notice a change in client traffic, increase in sales, or was there little effect from the tie up? Also, find out if the influencer was easy or difficult to work with, if they were prompt and if they delivered what they promised. When approaching an influencer, do your background research on their sponsored posts. See how their followers reacted to the posts, how many views/likes they garnered and if the promoted posts were interesting and creative. The more research you do, the better placed you will be to negotiate with them.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages a branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.
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Updated: May 7, 2017 04:00 AM