One of the key advantages of social media marketing – its ease of access – can also be its downfall unless brands do their homework, writes Taryn Williams, CEO and founder, WINK Models and theright.fit
The tried and true way to prepare a marketing campaign is to spend weeks, even months, reviewing and refining key messages, images and talent, before finally unleashing an orchestrated blitz across billboards, TV screens, radio and print media.
Today, an influencer post on a popular social media platform can far more accurately target your key audience, via just a few mouse clicks and a couple of hours’ work. It’s incredibly simple and effective. User feedback shows that 90 per cent of brands report influencer marketing to be effective, and for every $1 invested a return of $18 can be expected.
But such outstanding user-friendliness combined with the high implied success rate can also breed a lack of forethought that can end up having the opposite effect and damaging your brand.
I’ve lost count of the number of times a brand has come to the influencer marketplace I founded in 2016, theright.fit, with the same story: “I’ve got some money left over at the end of the quarter, we should do an influencer campaign.” No, you shouldn’t. At best, you’re probably wasting your money. At worst, without some old-school homework, you could significantly damage your brand.
When you should do an influencer campaign is after you’ve asked several key questions of your brand, and what you’re trying to achieve. That’s when you give your brand every chance of achieving that fat ROI, plus the halo effect that comes with aligning with the influencer that’s the right fit (no pun intended) for your brand.
Before you start paying influencers to try your product and post about it, make sure you’ve considered these vital elements.
What’s your ‘why’?
It’s not just working out what is the objective of the campaign, or who is the target customer, but also where are you in the marketing funnel? You could be aiming to establish a new brand, repositioning an existing brand, building product awareness, trying to grow conversions … the list goes on. What are the key messages? What is the brand’s tone of voice? All of those factors will drive a different type of strategy and choice of influencer.
Do you have protection?
As we’ve already touched on, there are fewer barriers to entry to social media (it’s cheaper, easier and more immediate) but that makes it potentially dangerous, too. If you’re contracting a celebrity for a billboard campaign, you’ll most likely have a watertight contract with specific clauses for key messaging or unacceptable behaviour that protect your brand, for example. You might do the same if you’re engaging one top-tier influencer but many brands these days will have concurrent relationships with numerous micro-influencers and so you need to find ways to make sure you’re still implementing processes and communicating expectations to influencers that fit with your brand. That could be using an influencer marketplace to help with selection, planning and contract-setting, or diving into the influencer’s client history and metrics to understand exactly what you’re getting.
There has probably been some unconscious bias over the history of advertising with people often casting in their own likeness, or having just always done things the same way, and not thinking about inclusivity. Brands are getting the idea about representing different sizes, ages and ethnicities, so maybe think about using people of different types of abilities or gender orientations who may be part of your customer base. As well as speaking directly to these groups and winning their respect, your brand also appears progressive and inclusive. Do your diligence on key messaging and even image angles, to ensure the talent is empowered and fairly represented.
Instagram is the classic platform built for influencers, Facebook still has reach, TikTok is young and vibrant. Maybe your brand is better suited to LinkedIn, or to Snapchat. But don’t overlook some of the less-obvious channels or influence techniques. The definition of an ‘influencer’ hasn’t changed, but our perception of who can influence has. You can have CEOs, entrepreneurs, journalists, sportspeople, small business owners, mums, and teens who wield enormous influence within their communities of followers. So it’s about working backwards from that purchasing decision. If you are a brand that sells marketing software, you would not be likely engaging an influencer on Instagram but you would want a blogger who writes about marketing, or someone on LinkedIn to share content about your offering. We’ve had business leaders, entrepreneurs and tech experts who have hosted webinars for brands, using their social reach and expertise to encourage people to sign up to the webinar, helping the brand to capture email addresses for lead generation and retargeting. We try to get brands to understand that there is an influencer and strategy for every brand, and that they need to think more holistically about who is the person and what is the channel that is going to influence a purchase.
Do your homework
As recently as 18 months ago, a lot of businesses weren’t thinking about an influencer’s engagement rate, they were just looking at vanity metrics of how many followers someone had. A lot of platforms have in-built audience analytics showing where followers are based, gender breakdown and things like that, so it’s really easy for the influencer to provide those to a brand before engaging with them on a campaign. There are also a lot more social listening and analytics tools that help you identify whether or not an influencer is the right match for you, and give you some information on their audience and engagement rates, brands they’ve worked with, and brand sentiment analysis. That sort of data gives brands greater transparency and comfort that will bring more trust to the industry. There are also more tools becoming available for tracking, reporting and measurement of ROI. Brands are becoming more aware of tactics such as using tracking links, so they can see how much traffic has been driven to sites.
Find your voice
It’s powerful to understand who you are as a brand, who your customer is, and then looking for a consistent voice and tone. When you’re really clear on what you stand for and your values, it makes it much easier to come up with campaigns and identify what content is going to perform on what channel and achieve that consistency of voice across each of your platforms.
Divide and conquer
With so many social media platforms and other delivery methods – blogs, newsletters, print media, billboards, etc. – you can really pick and choose, but there’s a danger in trying to craft the same content to work across multiple mediums. What works on TikTok might not fit your Facebook audience, and what’s perfect for your TV ad isn’t necessarily great for Instagram. The key is to create more content, more regularly that is site-specific in terms of the look, feel, messaging and even the frame orientation. You see some brands trying to repurpose content that was designed for one purpose on another platform. They feel the overwhelm of, “Oh my gosh, we’ve got all of these different channels. We’ve shot this big, expensive TV ad. Let’s just recycle it across all the platforms,” without looking at the platforms’ needs. Most times it doesn’t work.
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