There is a lot of work that goes into content creation to ensure it is authentic to the influencer’s personal brand as well as supports the brand’s goals for the campaign.
Part of a brand’s marketing strategy includes engaging social media influencers. This may require a niche influencer to share their experience with a niche product. More important than the influencer(s) selected for a campaign is their followers, often the brand’s target market. Before a brand “swipes right” or starts a relationship with a social media influencer, there are five things influencers wished brands knew about them.
Influencers are Storytellers
Alicia T. Chew doesn’t like to be called an influencer. She prefers the term, ‘blogger.’
“I feel like I’m a little old school in that I would never call myself an influencer. I still feel like a blogger because it most accurately reflects what I do,” Chew explained. Having earned her degree in Public Relations, she demonstrates a deep understanding of how media is most effective.
“I take an editorial approach to the content I create,” shares the DC-based fashion, lifestyle and travel blogger. Most influencers who are creating content don’t come from an editorial background. “Storytelling is a huge component of what I do and what sets me apart,” she details.
Additionally, Chew has hired a third-party agency to help enhance the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on her blog. “I make sure all of my blogs are optimized with keywords,” Chew explains. “Many brands I’ve partnered with on their influencer marketing campaigns require Instagram-only content but where I shine is in long-form blogs where I can optimize keywords to further support the campaign.”
This storytelling and branding strategy not only benefits the brands but is also a valuable tool the 29-year old Chew uses to her advantage to offer longevity. “The satisfaction of knowing people will see those stories for years to come makes what I do feel important.”
It’s More Than Just a Pretty Picture
Creating content to support a brand’s influencer marketing strategy is often a heavier lift than a brand may imagine. Melissa Gitt, an Arizona-based fashion, beauty and aspiring travel blogger shares that “…some brands understand what it takes to create content for their campaign but others think you take a pretty picture and it’s over.” Gitt, of ‘Always Meliss’, finds that there are times she’s not happy with the first photos and has to then re-shoot.
Many influencers like Gitt and Chew try to be upfront about what goes into creating content so brands have a set understanding of what the experience of working with influencers will be like. There is a lot of work that goes into content creation to ensure it is authentic to the influencer’s personal brand as well as supports the brand’s goals for the campaign.
In a May 2019 post, Chew shines a spotlight on how she’s more than a blogger. She’s also an editor, a web developer, the art director, model, stylist, makeup artist and often a part-time accountant and paralegal when reviewing contract offers.
Both Gitt and Chew stress the importance of time. The more time they have with a product to develop a creative concept, find the best place to shoot, coordinate with photographers, come up with a story and plan for weather delays, the better the content. “Longer lead times allow us to produce the best content,” Chew says.
Both bloggers identified four weeks as the ideal window to create the most authentic and highest-quality content but understand that some brands may require a two-week turnaround. “As storytellers, our audience is receptive to that type of content and some brand guidelines and timelines don’t leave as much room for us to be organic and it can appear scripted,” said Chew.
Influencers Want to Help the Brand Be Successful
It’s not just the brand that is invested in the success of the influencer marketing campaign. The influencers are invested too.
“I’m strategic about when I post content,” Gitt described. “I don’t do sponsored posts on Friday because engagement is low but Sundays and Mondays have really good engagement for my sponsored posts.” No one knows an influencer’s audience better than the influencer.
From the blogger’s perspective, they rely heavily on the campaign brief before creating a blog. “A lot of brands have come a long way in their brief and have begun outlining what their keywords are,” Chew said. “I remember a couple of years ago I did a blog post for Ugg. They came out with a new product called the Ugg Bethany. I really put in a lot of keywords for the product and it quickly became one of the top new boots for Ugg.”
Because she is concurrently interested in the success of the campaign, that specific post still gets traffic every winter and still remains a top search result for the product on the first page of Google.
Exclusivity Comes with Expectations
To their followers, influencers/bloggers appear more genuine when they are loyal to a product. It doesn’t look authentic to be bouncing around from brand to brand within the same product category. Gitt’s experience with exclusivity depends on the term of the exclusivity. “I prefer the exclusive partnerships to be a two-week exclusive agreement, not a month.”
When a brand asks for category exclusivity, they often pay a premium, to offset any potential lost earnings during that period.
Chew is nearing the end of a one-year exclusive agreement with Olay. “You have to really love the brand one-hundred percent if you’re signing on for a one-year exclusivity agreement,” said Chew. “I might try to reduce the time or not enter the partnership if I’m only feeling so-so about the brand.” She describes her year-long partnership with Olay as an easy choice because it’s a brand her whole family loves. “I didn’t mind the length of the exclusivity because of how passionate I am about the product.”
Authenticity Always Wins
Influencers can’t fake it until they make it. Their followers are smart and can clearly recognize content that is inauthentic. “I always try a product first to be sure I like it and can support it before moving forward with a paid sponsorship,” Gitt says. “I don’t want my followers to think I’m a walking, talking advertisement. I’ve had certain brands pursuing a partnership with me for a long time and I’ve turned them down multiple times because it’s a brand I wouldn’t use.”
The mentality of “fake it until you make it” doesn’t ever work in influencer marketing. “When a brand’s guidelines are too restrictive, it doesn’t allow me to tell a story organically,” Chew explains. “The more freedom we have to be ourselves, as bloggers, the better the content.” And ultimately the better the campaign results.
A brand may call them influencers, content creators, bloggers or Instagrammers. Regardless of the moniker, it’s paramount for brands to understand that when they find the right influencers, they are in it together, working to achieve the same results. <swipes right>