Social Media

Influencer marketing: What you should know before getting engaged

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An Influencer is someone who has the power to influence others. That’s the simple meaning, but actually defining Influencer Marketing is a lot more difficult.

Influencer Marketing began as a niche field, since then it has become a mainstream phenomenon. So much so that research is being conducted to find out how brands can capitalise on it.

In creative agency We Are Social’s 2017 Influencer Report, they found that Australia’s top ten influencers have more subscribers on average (9.4 million) than the top ten Australian media companies are reaching each week (7.7 million).

Think of it this way; influencers are now their own media, and their followers are the audience. 63% of Australians view the influencers they follow as trusted source of information, and brands engage these influencers to promote their products because they have a direct reach to a certain target market.

This all sounds great, right? Easy? Simple? Wrong.

Influencer marketing may be a current phenomenon, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a stand-alone marketing tactic.

Just like making a sandwich (hang in there, it’ll make sense), you need the bread, the butter, the salad and the sauce. You can’t engage influencer marketing without a current, in-place content marketing strategy. Why pay a lot of money for an influencer to send traffic to your website, if your website is not up to date? It would be like making a sandwich without bread.

While the rest of the world gets all caught up in influencer marketing, we will be your voice of reason. There are many important things to know before engaging in influencer marketing, and we’ve summed up the top seven.

Seven tips for brands looking to engage in Influencer Marketing.

1. Transparency is key

Audiences have always associated ads with sales and corporations, and they don’t trust them. Eliminate that feeling and ensure everything you do is transparent.

Transparency works both ways; the brand and the influencer must both ensure the marketing doesn’t appear gimmicky or emotionless. We Are Social found an influencers openness and transparency plays a huge role in their appeal, with 71% of research respondents agreeing.

In Australia if a brand is collaborating with an influencer to promote a product, it must provide proper disclosure and be easily distinguishable that the content is sponsored.

Read more about this and sponsored content in our recent blog: Three new social media guidelines that you should be aware of.

Australian Instagram and YouTube influencer Isabella Fiori promoting the brand Dyson.

2. Understand product vs payment.

No audience is naive enough to think influencers promote brands out of the goodness of their own hearts. They are getting paid to do it. How much is the question. Whilst there’s no definite pricing structure when it comes to influencer marketing, it’s important to note that talent agencies may have guidelines in which they work off to market the influencers they manage.

For example, Australian beauty blogger Lauren Curtis, who has over 3.5 million subscribers, may value higher than a lesser known blogger, due to their reach and popularity.

This price may vary again due to the content in which you are asking from them. A series of Instagram posts will almost always be valued at a lower price than a YouTube review on your product, due to the hours spent in creation of the content.

Influencers and brands will often discuss prices when negotiating a collaboration. Those who aren’t under agencies may have a lot more leniency than those who are, as they aren’t confined to a strict set of rules. Choosing an influencer for your brand needs to be considered wisely. Influencers who work on their own terms may be great, but big name influencers who work under agencies means more reach for your brand and product. So, admittedly, you get what you pay for.

It’s the terms around the deal that you need to be concerned with. Is the influencer testing the product first, and reporting their honest opinion, or is it a quid pro quo? It is important to remember that audiences don’t mind sponsored content, as long as it is transparent and the content is meeting the audiences expectations.

Loz Curtis Instagram image

Lauren Curtis and partner, Reece, on overseas trip with Benefit Cosmetics Australia. Lauren has over 1.5 million followers on Instagram and over 3.5 subscribers on YouTube. Image from Instagram

3. Build relationships first.

Gone are the days of transactional relationships, influencer marketing now heavily relies on partnerships between brands and influencers.

As we mentioned before, audiences see right through ads. A partnership or collaboration is a much nicer term for sponsored content, and it promotes a positive and organic relationship between brands and influencers that is likely to filter down to the audience.

Brands bringing influencers into their organisation and collaborating is becoming a more common marketing tactic. Think Australian beauty, lifestyle, and fashion YouTube influencer Chloe Morello, who has over 2 million subscribers, collaborating with British beauty brand Ciate London on multiple makeup products.

Brand and influencer collaboration portrays partnership and mutual relationship, rather than something quid pro quo. Pictured: Chloe Morello and Ciate London collaboration.

4. Recruit the right influencers.

One of the first things you should do before engaging in influencer marketing is closely examine your influencer and if their audience fits your target market.

Ensure the influencer you are engaging with has authority in the relevant context. There’s no point paying a fitness and yoga influencer to promote your brand of tequila, because it won’t translate to their following. The most effective influencers are those with earned authority and credibility, and with them your appropriate product will have the most impact.

Alternatively, you can sometimes expect rejection from specific influencers. For example, if you’re a brand who creates makeup that may not be cruelty free, expect an influencer who promotes only cruelty free products to turn you down. Essentially, it will only hurt their reputation and following in the long run if they promote something their values do not align with. It’s a hit and miss sometimes, but just like dating, your perfect match is out there.

In such a crowded marketplace, the issue of an influencer promoting competing brands is guaranteed to arise. Look for influencers in your target market’s industry that don’t already market for a direct competitor, or if it can’t be avoided, work out how you’ll approach and manage this.

Zoella, a beauty and lifestyle YouTuber, who has 12 million subscribers and 11.2 million followers on Instagram, frequently promotes different beauty brands. Image from Mediakix.

5. Don’t mistake false engagement for real engagement.

Do your research into an influencers following before collaborating with them. Audience numbers and engagement only count when they are real people. Fake followers or “bots” never make purchases and most importantly it looks really, really bad. Collaborating with an influencer who has bought followers can hurt your brand image.

You can identify fake followers or bots easily; the followers profile may not have a profile image or won’t have posted any of their own photos, spam comments (gibberish, make no sense) on the influencers pictures, or low engagement (50,000 follower but only 3 image likes).

6. Establish achievable and measurable goals.

Don’t start doing it just because everyone else is. That won’t get you anywhere. Before investing in influencer marketing, understand what you’re getting involved in. Define your budget, set your goals, define your performance indicators. Do you want more engagement, more traffic, or more purchases?

7. Don’t limit influencer marketing to just Instagram.

It’s not as simple as just promoting a product on Instagram. Instagram may be the number one platform for influencer marketing, but you must ensure you also have other content strategies to support your influencer marketing, such as social platforms Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, and blogging, landing pages, ebooks, and more. Everything should be consistent and on brand, from logos, to hashtags and key messages. Start by looking at what your competitors aren’t doing, and master that.

So, where to from now?

Have we added to your knowledge of influencer marketing? Based on the research we’ve shared above, do you think influencer marketing will maintain its prominent place in the digital marketing industry? Let us know what you think below.

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3 new social media guidelines that you should be aware of

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Growing your business on social media has never been more effective. With some clever planning, creativity and science, you can gain new fans and drive sales by using a mix of organic and collaborator-driven stories.

Most of us are pretty aware that it’s illegal for businesses to make deceptive, false or misleading claims about products and services by consumer protection laws governed by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).

But did you know that these laws apply to social media platforms in the same way they apply to other marketing and sales channels?

As far as the ACCC is concerned, you should be treating all your content on social media accounts like you would for a print, radio, television or web advertisements.

Here are some of the new guidelines and how to navigate them:

1. You’re responsible for third party content related to your business.

Yes, you’ve read that right. The ACCC will hold businesses accountable for any deceptive, false or misleading claims, even if it’s written or uploaded by a third party such as your customers or influencers that you’re working with.

To combat this, it’s better to err on the side of caution and delete anything that has a hint of prohibited claims. I know it’s hard–especially when it’s a favourable review for your products or services. In 2009, Allergy Pathway Pty Ltd was fined for failing to remove misleading medical testimonials posted by their fans on Twitter and Facebook.

It goes without saying that you should stay on top of comments and activity on social media by using social media monitoring platforms such as Hootsuite, Google Alerts or Brandwatch. If you’re managing a Facebook brand page, the Facebook Pages Manager App is also a great (and free) tool that you should be using daily.

2. You’re responsible to monitor your social media accounts at all times.

Haven’t got a social media manager? Time to get on that. Social media is 24/7, which means misleading comment may appear on your social media page outside of business operating hours. The ACCC expects you to be aware false, misleading or deceptive contents on your account and remove them as soon as you are aware of it. So what counts as a timely response, you ask?

The ACCC takes two factors into account: the size of the company and the number of followers. The bigger the company is, the faster ACCC expects the prohibited content to be dealt with within 24 hours. Likewise, the bigger following you have, the more responsive you have to be. This is due to the risk that more people will be exposed to, and potentially spread, misleading content.

No matter the size of your company, aim for a 12 to 24-hour response time.

3. You must declare influencer content.

Paying an influencer to promote a product or service they’ve never used before is a definite no. If you’re collaborating with a social media influencer, ensure to check their content before posting or amend it as soon as you are aware of any content that goes against the guidelines. To be on the safe side, regularly scan the social media circles you frequent to keep an eye for potentially misleading or deceptive claims in influencer’s content, even if it’s a positive unpaid review.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers’ (AANA) new provision code of ethics (effective 1 March 2017) requires brands to ensure all forms of advertising, including influencer posts on social media, to be ‘clearly distinguishable as such to the relevant audience’. Hence why you may have seen social posts containing hashtags including #ad, #sponsor or other variations.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, now has a Paid Partnership feature that influencers must use when posting a sponsored post. It created a sub-header that makes a clear indication of a sponsored post and the business that’s advertising. This is a blessing for businesses as it will help to give back control and visibility to track and monitor influencer content.

Paid partnership on Instagram imageThe ACCC and AANA new guidelines above are a good indication that social media advertising regulation is on the increase. Therefore, you should pay extra care and attention to your social media marketing practices.

What tools to you use to monitor your social media accounts? Share with us below.