By Invitation Only: Five lessons for micro-influencer strategies
If you don't have an influencer campaign, are you even in marketing? I'll be the first to confess my love of a good influencer strategy but will also admit that they're not all created equal and even the best-laid plans may backfire.
We all know the virtues of working with social-media celebs: they lend credibility to your brand, extend your reach to their followers, create cool content for your campaign and may even generate leads and drive sales. But all of this takes hard work, clever planning, relationship-building and, yes, money. Gone are the days when you could send a mommy blogger a hamper and a hashtag and hope for the best (insert eyeroll emoji here).
Now the buzzword is micro-influencer -- someone with a respectable social-media following (think hundreds and thousands) but not in the big leagues of Bonang and AKA (who have millions). But what these micro-influencers lack in reach they make up for in relevancy. They're the cool kids who've created a loyal following with consistent and authentic content. They're fashionable. They're sociable. They're talented. And they're opinionated.
This is what makes them popular. This is also what may get your brand into trouble. Especially if you've just thrown their name into your campaign brainstorm without actually getting to know what made them so popular in the first place.
Here are five important lessons learnt when it comes to courting micro-influencers:
The best relationships are symbiotic. You have to offer an influencer more than just money. Whether it's a platform for their own work, a solution that eases their pain or a social toolkit that makes their lives easier, give them a reason to love you back.
Be upfront about your intentions. For any relationship to work, you need to make your expectations clear from the beginning. Set clear deliverables and deadlines and draw up a contract to avoid any unnecessary confusion. Think of it as an influencer prenup. Because no one likes nasty surprises when the honeymoon is over.
You have to woo them. Take the time to sell your strategy to the influencers. It's important they get as excited about it as you are. If they don't understand what you're trying to achieve, they'll never fully buy into it.
Sync your communication styles for a healthy relationship. It took us halfway through a recent campaign to realise our influencers weren't reading our briefs because they didn't check emails and Google Docs the way we agency folk do. Once we started communicating with them via WhatsApp, everyone was happy.
Flings usually end badly. Using an influencer once off to take advantage of their following is the same as hooking up with a hot guy because he's famous and then avoiding him afterwards because things got awkward. Understand that working with influencers, and especially micro-influencers, is a long-term relationship and that, even when the campaign is over, people will still associate them with your brand. Remember why you chose them in the first place and plan for the fact that their influence probably means they are passionate and opinionated people who might get involved in the odd Twitter storm. Don't bail on them at the first sign of trouble.
Our job as agencies
Most marketers are still navigating the ups and downs of influencer relationships. At the end of the day, the most-important dynamic is the one between the brand and the micro-influencer. And it's our job as agencies to facilitate this blossoming romance and make the complexities appear seamless.