Social media influencers can be effective partners for brands who are looking to extend their digital reach. But these partnerships aren’t automatically beneficial; like any marriage, communication and being on the same page is paramount. Brands looking to leverage social media influencers with large followings must focus on a few keys in order to make the partnership a viable one.
Three things to remember for any influencer program:
Stay on Brand
Influencers with a wide following can be a valuable partner for brands, but only if they consistently remain on brand. This can be a difficult proposition for the influencer, who has amassed their following because of their strong, unique social media voice. (And that’s why it’s so important for brands to identify the right candidates for influencer partnerships). The influencer may have some previous posts that don’t exactly align with the brand or the values that the brand stands for.
A brand can help an influencer stay on brand through trainings (whether in-person or remotely), which reinforce the brands’ social media guidelines. Instead of merely telling the influencers what to post, a good exercise is to show the influencers types of previous posts of their own which have the right voice and message that the brand is trying to convey. This can help ease the influencer into promoting the brand and will illustrate that there’s a natural fit.
When a brand is launching a top new campaign, they’ll utilize their owned channels to start with. But influencers play an important role in amplification, helping the brand reach a much wider audience. However, influencers became influencers because of their own unique voice.
If they start pitching a new product without doing so in their own, unique way, it can have an adverse effect. Influencers become so popular because of the authentic connection they have with their audience. If their messaging on behalf of a brand comes off as inauthentic, they will lose the credibility they have with their audience, rendering their influence all for naught. It’s a balancing act for the influencer, but brands can help; creating a content framework to align the brand’s message with the influencers’ helps reach all audiences in an authentic fashion.
As with anything on social media, it can be difficult to prove how valuable an influencer has been to the brand. A lot of old models for this was based solely on quantitative and cumulative data; did the follower count grow, and by how much? What is the total number of engagements? But these types of raw datasets can be misleading; it depends on the brand, what type of strategy they have, and what type of influencers they have aligned with.
The new, more effective model relies more on qualitative analysis. How effectively are the influencers helping push the brand’s messaging or new campaign? Looking at the content of influencers’ posts, the brand can identify why a certain post was effective or wasn’t. Did the influencer’s posts align with the brand’s business objectives? Engagement remains important, but it’s better used in the context of rate — how many retweets or likes did it get in comparison to the number of followers.
It’s important for brands to identify the right influencers. Some influencers have less followers than others, but it’s about reaching the right followers. An influencer who reached the intended audience, in their natural voice while staying on brand will be a much more valuable asset to a brand than someone who can offer a larger audience but can’t guarantee alignment in conveying the brand’s message.