In the world of PR and marketing communications, influencer marketing has become one of the biggest trends that brands should take notice of. Did you know that as of 2019, the influencer market is worth £4.1bn, and that in 2017 92% of marketers using it found it to be an effective way to achieve their goals?
It was also this month that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), who create guidelines that social media influencers must follow, announced that anyone with more than 30,000 social media followers is now considered to have celebrity status – and subject to specific advertising rules.
Time to reflect on our time at Social Media Week. Rich Keith, CEO of Bristol-based Fourth Floor Creative, lead a great seminar which revealed how and why brands should be exploring influencer marketing and the key things that they need to keep in mind.
Team AMBITIOUS attended the session & if you are interested in exploring the world of influencer marketing for yourself, read on to find out more from our summary:
What is influencer marketing?
According to Rich Keith, influencer marketing can be defined as “the process of finding, engaging and partnering with the creators who are having high-impact conversations about your brand, products and services.” Essentially, it’s about working with influential people to raise awareness of your products and services on natural, human and authentic level, and connecting with their relevant target audiences who are most likely to be interested in what you are offering.
A common way that influencer marketing is used is via product placement on Instagram, using images or videos with #ad. Done in the right way, this can be very powerful and offer plenty of room for creativity.
How to use influencer marketing effectively and create campaigns that get results
We’re all aware of the bad examples on influencer marketing, such as celebrities promoting brands they don’t use (like diet tea) or the infamous Fyre Festival. With influencer marketing, the key is to build a campaign, not just focus on a single video or post. The aim is to create content that will surprise and delight, as it is then more likely to get audience cut-through.
Nowadays, consumers are demanding higher levels of authenticity and relevance from the content they consume. Authenticity, relevance and trust are much more important to them, but how can you ensure that your influencer marketing campaign hits the mark?
- First you need to find a trusted voice for your brand by doing your research. Remember that not all influencers are the same and that not all campaigns are the same – follower counts don’t always indicate trust or authenticity.
- You need to build a partnership with the creator (influencer) and your brand. Remember, it’s not just an advert, and your campaign needs to reflect their core values.
With influencer marketing campaigns, it’s important to remember that the focus of the output should always be about making great content which resonates with your audience and encourages a response.
What are the risks?
The main risks of influencer marketing campaigns are increased your number of fake followers (although they are easy to spot and remove it does takes time and effort) and brand misalignment – it’s so important to understand who you’re working with as it could impact your brand in the long term.
Rich Keith also explained that influencer marketing campaigns that fail are likely to be those with too many restrictions. It’s important to ensure that the content is in the tone, voice and spirit of the influencer to ensure authenticity. How the creator approaches the campaign makes a huge difference – don’t just make them read some product benefits from a list. Instead their delivery needs to be authentic, and they need to sound genuinely engaged, positive and enthusiastic.
What else do I need to know?
Another key point to be aware of is the law and regulations which affect influencer marketing campaigns. Although the guidelines can be restrictive, they are relatively easy to follow.
As explained during the seminar by Isabel Davies from Purewal and Partners, a law firm that specialises in influencer work: “The big thing for brands to be aware of is paid promotions and disclosures and audience ages – these are the main things to think about when looking at contracts.”
Although the ASA has historically been the only regulator for influencer practice, the CMA have started to get involved and handing out enforcement orders and sanctions to brands and influencers regarding disclosure practice.
The important thing for brands and influencers to be aware of is disclosing when a post or video is sponsored or endorsed. Here are some key things that you should be aware of:
- It’s important for influencers to be transparent with their followers and make it clear when an ad is an ad.
- Freebies (products or services that are received unexpectedly) must be disclosed in posts/videos.
- In post captions, the #ad or #advert placement should be visible and prominent, which normally means that it should come at the start.
- In addition, influencers also need to disclose if they have had a relationship with the brand in the past year – for example, if they have used their products or services before.
- For both brands and influencers, before you start working together you need to make sure that contracts set out what is required by both parties (for example, who owns the content that’s being made, whose channel it will appear on and for how long, approval rights, editorial control and what happens in the event that content gets taken down) and this should also be audited too.
- Be mindful of the age of your brands/influencer’s audience. If you are showing adult content e.g. alcohol or 18+ rated games, you need to understand the responsibilities that you have from brand perspective.
What do the influencers say?
During the seminar, a panel of influencers spoke about their experiences of working with brands and shared their key tips for success. Here’s what they had to say:
Nicole Serrao: “For me, it’s important to be as authentic with my audience as possible, so after I have done sponsored posts I always try to continue using those products so that the campaign resonates on a deeper level.”
Tom Burns: “It’s vital to make sure that the content is authentic – you can always tell when someone is reading from a script rather than actually engaging with the brand.”
Mark Turpin: “Don’t try and change the personality of the influencer you’re working with. At the end of the day you are choosing to work with someone who has power, and they need to be able to speak authentically with that voice so that it works with your message.”
Jamie Jo: “Before working with an influencer, brands need to listen to the person they want to work with – they need to give them a voice, give them a role, and pay attention to the needs of their audience.”
Checklist for success
To help you create an influencer marketing campaign that gets results, here’s a checklist for success that you should follow:
- Make sure you know your campaign goals.
- Do deep background research on the creators/influencers that you want to work with – are there any skeletons in their closet and how do they create content?
- Understand which metrics (followers, subscribers, views) matter for your campaign and ensure you track them.
- Make sure the content is right for both the creator and the audience (and that it will surprise and delight them too!)