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Content marketing is a must for most major brands today. Brands and marketers are working with myriad different types of content, and one of the most popular and successful is influencer-generated content.

Influencer-generated content is curated when brands work with influencers to promote products and services on social media and/or websites. Influencers are people who specialize in certain areas. They typically post on media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook about subjects like photography, travel, design, fashion, food and sports and fitness. They’re known for their expertise and content on those topics, and they have loyal followings ranging in size from a few thousand to millions.

Influencers can create content for a product or service in different ways. They might review it, show how they’re using it, post about their appearances at events that promote it or encourage participation in contests revolving around it.

How Influencer-Generated Content Is Different From Other Content

Influencer-generated content is different from other types of content like user-generated content and brand-generated content. With influencer-generated content, brands find influencers whose interests and values parallel the brands’ to promote their products and services.

But with user-generated content, everyday users of a brand post about it on social media to their friends, relatives and colleagues. When brands generate their own content, they promote directly to the consumer; there’s no influencer involved.

Who’s the Target Audience for Influencer-Generated Content?

The target audience for influencer-generated content is the influencer’s followers, who the company has determined are also the brand’s target market. For instance, say your company wants to target gardening enthusiasts with its new line of seeds. The followers of gardening influencers and horticulture experts on social media would probably be a good match for your product.

The Benefits of Using Influencer-Generated Content

Using influencer-generated content has distinct advantages for brands and marketers, including the following.

  • Influencer-Generated Content Is Cost-Effective. One of the key benefits of using influencer-generated content is that you and your influencer can create it at a lower cost. Often, influencers do their own photo shoots to create content for brands. This means that marketers and brands don’t have to have big budgets for photographers, stylists, models and locations for shoots.
  • Brands Can Repurpose Influencer-Generated Content. Influencer-generated content can be tweaked and repurposed for different platforms. For example, an influencer’s social media posts could be repurposed for a page on your brand’s website that shows what people are saying about an item.
  • Consumers Trust Influencers. Followers trust influencer-generated content more than they do traditional advertising, especially when it comes to Gen Z and Millennial markets. When an influencer promotes your brand in their content, your brand gains that trust by association. Influencer-generated content can help drive brand awareness, web traffic, social media engagement, conversions and brand loyalty.
  • Influencer-Generated Content Is Easy to Share. It’s easy for followers to share influencer-generated content, whether it’s in the form of social media posts or videos. These users are more likely to share influencer content than they are traditional advertising.
  • Influencer-Generated Content Can Be Very Targeted. Brands and markets can be as niche or broad as they want to be with the audiences they target when they work with influencers. Some influencers have very international followings, while others’ followings are more local. There are influencers for just about every major and minor industry, from finance and technology to gaming and beauty.
  • There’s No Ad Blocking With Influencer-Generated Content. One of the most attractive features of influencer-generated content is that it gets around ad blockers because it’s not traditional advertising. Ad blocking is becoming more and more popular, with 181 million users employing desktop ad blocking alone in early 2019.

Tips for Using Influencer-Generated Content.

Influencer-generated content is booming, with the influencer marketing industry estimated to be worth as much as $16 billion by 2020, notes Forbes. But you can navigate influencer-generated content successfully by following some basic tips.

  • Stay True. Keep your content believable and real. Work with influencers who are authentic and honest and who’ll promote your brand in a transparent, realistic way in their own voices. Followers place a lot of trust in influencers. One great way to transfer that trust to your brand is to work with an influencer who’s truly passionate about your product. Influencer-generated content doesn’t give its audience a hard sell. That’s one of the key reasons for its success. When using the product seems to come naturally to the influencer, it’s a win.
  • Search for the Right Fit. Carefully research and consider the different types of influencers available to find those who can best represent your brand and your promotion. A lot depends on what you’re promoting, especially if your message is very targeted. It might be best to work with a larger number of micro-influencers instead of macro-influencers or power influencers who have enormous followings. Say your brand wants to work with influencers to promote its new kitchen appliances. It’s generally cheaper to work with several different micro-influencers who post and/or blog about cooking than to work with one or two celebrity influencers.
  • Look Out for Fraud. Unfortunately, fraud is pervasive in the influencer marketing industry. Some influencers with huge numbers of followers have paid for those followers. Don’t be too easily impressed by the number of followers an influencer has. Do your due diligence and look carefully at the profiles of the followers to assess if they seem real. Engagement rates are important — more so than follower counts. Check the numbers and types of likes, comments and shares the influencers’ posts have to determine if they seem legitimate.
  • Remember Reputation Is Everything. Check out an influencer’s reputation before you collaborate with them. Check their social media accounts to see the way they interact with their followers and the public in general. Assess their maturity level, attitude and whether their content reflects your brand’s values. Make sure the influencers you work with follow the relevant Federal Trade Commission guidelines about disclosing your brand’s sponsorship.
  • Keep It Engaging. Make sure the content is valuable, helpful or entertaining. One of the reasons that followers trust influencers so much? They feel that they can rely on influencers for information and opinions that are valuable to them.
  • Be Clear and Specific With Influencers. Make sure the influencers you work with know exactly what you expect from them during the content campaign. Give them a brief up front that clearly spells out the deliverables they’re to produce. Provide a schedule for posting, the number of posts you’d like and the platforms the influencer should post on. This may be part of the contract your influencers sign.
  • Don’t Micromanage Influencers. Be careful not to cramp the influencer’s style. Don’t force an idea or a platform that isn’t right for them or their followers. Allow them the creative freedom they need to do what they do best in a way that’ll resonate with their followers. Keep communication open, and discuss any concerns if they arise.