The global phenomenon of influencer marketing shows no signs of stopping as companies large and small continue to discover its far-reaching benefits. Far from being a fad destined to fizzle out, as some marketing experts initially predicted, it’s an industry that continues to experience tremendous growth. According to Business Insider, it’s forecast that by 2022, brands will spend as much as $15 billion on influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing isn’t a new concept. It’s been around in one form or another for centuries. As long as consumers have looked up to celebrities and valued their opinions, some type of influencer marketing has existed. In 1934, for example, baseball player Lou Gehrig was the first in a long line of athletes to appear on a box of Wheaties. And more than a century ago, author Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, endorsed Paul E. Wirt fountain pens in print ads in glowing terms.
Social Media’s Reach
It’s really only with the advent of social media that influencer marketing has become the powerhouse for brands that it is today. According to the social media management platform Hootsuite’s Global State of Digital in 2019 Report, in 2019, there were more than 3.4 billion users of social media worldwide.
As social media channels and apps continue to expand, brands have more ways than ever to communicate with consumers around the world. And they can do so 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Influencers play an increasingly crucial role in this communication, spreading the word about products, services and brands to target markets.
Social media’s powerful reach spreads brand messaging further and wider than ever before. Through their posts and videos, influencers entertain, inform, excite and educate followers. Followers trust their favorite influencers, value the content that they create and engage with them.
The impact of an influencer’s posts keeps expanding as followers share them with friends, family, colleagues and followers, who in turn share the posts with others. Depending on the timeliness and/or appeal of the post, the sharing can keep rolling along and expanding for years.
The Importance of Clear Communication
Clear communication between brands, marketers and influencers is an essential component of any successful influencer marketing campaign. Social media’s immediate, expansive reach is one reason that clear communication is so vital before, during and after a campaign.
If good news does travel fast, as the old expression goes, it travels even faster through social media. And brands must remember that the lightning-fast speed of social media communication also means that bad news and brand missteps travel quickly too. Fortunately, thoughtful planning and communication can save a lot of time spent doing damage control down the road.
Clear communication saves brands from making a wide array of potential mistakes that can have far-reaching effects. These mistakes can stem from misunderstandings between influencers and brands and/or unawareness of crucial information about the campaign’s goals. These errors can produce a broad range of unfortunate effects. They range from campaign overspending and low return on investment to a negative brand image and even FTC scrutiny of the campaign.
How Brands Can Reach Out to Influencers for Partnerships
Top professional influencers receive a constant flurry of partnership proposals. If you’ve done your due diligence to determine that the influencer is a good fit, you’re on the right track. A good way to initially put your brand on the influencer’s radar is to follow them and make comments on the posts that are relevant to your product.
When you’re ready to make direct contact with the influencer to propose a partnership, send them an email that shows you appreciate them. Make it clear that you understand the value of their content and their image. Outline the reasons a partnership would be a natural fit for your brand and the influencer and how it would benefit both parties.
Influencer Communication with International Audiences
It’s true that some influencers have international social media appeal, especially big celebrities and star athletes with fans all over the world. But when it comes to targeting audiences in other countries, it’s often also a good idea to work with local influencers. They understand the nuances of communicating with particular cultures and the ways followers in their country might react to certain types of posts.
Influencer marketing laws and regulations can also vary from country to country, so it’s a good idea to work with someone who knows the ropes.
Influencer Deliverables, Briefs and Contracts
Clear communication with influencers on deliverables the brand expects from the partnership is key to the success of a campaign. That’s where briefs and contracts come into play. Here’s how to use them to ensure clear communication and understanding of expectations among the parties involved in the campaign.
Influencer Marketing Campaign Briefs
A brief outlines everything the brand expects from the influencer for the campaign, including things like the number, type, frequency and dates of posts.
It should also specify the social media platforms the influencer is to post on.
A brief should include any additional responsibilities that the influencer has to fulfill during the campaign, such as for in-store and event appearances. A brief also spells out details the influencer needs to know, such as the brand’s vision and goals for the campaign.
It’s also important for the brand to communicate to the influencer how the results of the campaign will be measured and evaluated. Make it clear to the influencer from the get-go the KPIs that are important to the brand. Brands should also confirm that the influencer knows how to track and report the results.
Influencer Marketing Campaign Contracts
Brands and marketers shouldn’t just rely on verbal agreements when partnering with influencers. Contracts are essential documents for influencer marketing campaigns because they serve to protect both the brand and the influencer. A contract should provide terms for details such as the amount the influencer will be paid and when they will receive payment for their services.
A contract should also give specifics on the influencer’s budget for the campaign, what the budget covers and when they’ll be reimbursed for expenses. For instance, say the brand allots the influencer a $5,000 budget for a photoshoot in another city. The contract will specify if the influencer is to use that budget for expenses such as travel or to hire a stylist and a photographer.
A contract can also specify who owns the content the influencer creates for the campaign and how it can be used. For instance, if your brand wants to keep the option of repurposing campaign content over time, be sure to include that in the contract.
It’s also a good idea to address issues like exclusivity in the contract. Does the agreement allow the influencer to work with the competition or mention competitors in the content they create for you? Is exclusivity only limited for the duration of the campaign?
A contract also spells out what kinds of actions on the influencer’s part could result in them getting fired from the campaign. And it highlights other types of events that could cause the partnership to end.
Keep in mind that rather than adapting a contract you find online, it’s better to have a lawyer draw one up for you. Make sure you work with a lawyer who has a thorough understanding of social media and influencer marketing — and preferably experience in this industry.
Influencer Campaigns and Customer Service Communication
A successful influencer marketing campaign will bring an increase in different types of consumer engagement that brands need to plan for. For instance, they need to plan how to handle any questions or complaints about the product that might pop up on the influencer’s social media channels.
Brands should address any customer service issues that crop up on their influencers’ social media channels during campaigns quickly and professionally. It’s important to ensure that any problems or negative comments don’t get lost within the influencer’s social media channels and overlooked by the brand.
It’s equally important to acknowledge positive comments about the product too. Doing so gives consumers the sense that the brand appreciates them and stimulates enthusiasm for the product.
Influencer Marketing Platforms and Communication
Influencer marketing platforms can help make influencer communication easier for brands and marketers in a variety of ways. They can help across a range of steps in the marketing campaign. These steps range from the initial process of finding and reaching out to influencers, to communicating with influencers while working with them on campaigns.