Every Influencer Partnership is a Direct Reflection of Your Brand
By Suzanne Rappaport
Influencer marketing is not new. Brands have been partnering with influential people for decades. From celebrities to athletes, these influencers were, for a long time, the faces of our favourite brands.
At some point over the last decade, this model began to shift. Brands turned to real-world people to represent their companies and be their faces instead. Adding a new layer of authenticity and credibility, these newfound influencers helped shape a new era of media and marketing.
Then, as brands began to capitalize on the reach of influencers, the model shifted yet again: creating new celebrities and a new cost of doing business.
While the rise of high-reach influencers created great opportunities for brands to reach their audiences on a much larger scale, it also presented new challenges around brand saturation and lost messaging. As a result, many companies began to seek out micro-influencers in an attempt to focus on quality versus quantity and grow brand affinity alongside these influencers’ growing fan bases.
Whether high-reach or micro, celebrity or other, influencers play a key role in brand marketing today. And, while we don’t foresee this type of marketing disappearing anytime soon, we do know that not all partnerships are created equal.
Credibility is key
To ensure mutually beneficial relationships, brands must know their audiences and perform their research so that the selected influencers align well to the brands’ core values and speaks to their key demographics.
However, an often-overlooked criterion is credibility, and it’s one that can be even more impactful than the others. Meaning, beyond their own personal styles and follower bases, are the influencers promoting other companies that align with your brand’s values? Are they promoting start-ups or new companies that have not been properly approved or vetted yet? Or companies with poor reputations? Do they promote products that work well with yours? Or compete with your offerings?
One influencer I worked with years ago was promoting a new on line on-demand medical app. When I saw the posts for this app, I thought “what a fantastic idea!” It’s something I would use as a parent. However, after trying to use the app myself, I quickly realized that it was not ready for launch: there were glitches and issues with scheduling for example.
It’s all connected. Every partnership is a direct reflection of your brand.
Offering free products or services to influencers is also key. It ensures an authentic approach to the content and will help to alleviate any hiccups in advance of the promotion.
Value is the new currency
To maximize the value of influencer partnerships, brands should look beyond singular initiatives and leverage these opportunities as ways to create content that can live on long after the launch.
Many times businesses are focused on the launch-at-hand: a new restaurant, the latest product or must-have service. As such, they work with influencers to promote that news, using their platforms to share the details. While this approach offers reach for the launch, it does not provide long-term value.
A great way to maximize partnerships with influencers is to work with them on what they do best and create omnichannel content that can be leveraged on your company’s web site or social channels year-round.
For example, if you are working with a food influencer for the opening of a new restaurant, why not engage them to also create new recipes for your web site or shoot some great food photography for your Facebook page? It’s a mutually beneficial agreement as the brand receives additional content (and content is king!) while the influencer receives exposure to a larger audience by being credited/tagged in the brand’s posts. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Define success in advance
Oftentimes, brands are so eager to “get out there” with their message that they fail to define clear success metrics in advance of their launches. This is particularly important when working with influencers, as the way you define success should impact the way you select your partners.
If your key performance indicator (KPI) is brand awareness, you’ll likely zero in on high-reach influencers that can distill your message quickly to a large audience. However, if you’re basing the success of a programme on purchasing power or click-throughs, engagement will be more important than reach. You can have a lower reaching influencer with a high level of engagement: meaning, the followers they do have are more responsive and take action more often than other influencers’ followers.
Setting clear success objectives at the onset of a programme is vital to ensuring your brand receives the best value from an influencer partnership and selects the best person to represent you.
Suzanne Rappaport is managing director, CASACOM Toronto (www.casacom.ca). She is a seasoned PR professional with over 15 years’ experience in implementing strategic communications campaigns for top-tier companies on both the agency and client-sides in various sectors.