Influencers are the new cool kids at school. They have growing armies of followers who hang on their every word, if they say something is the next big thing, their followers want a piece of it.

As consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how brands use advertising to sell their products and the use of adblockers rises, brands can tap into the influencer phenomenon and seek the help of them to promote products. And with 66% of consumers claiming to watch a video/blog at least once a month, it is certainly something to consider.

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Whilst there are many ways in which brands can collaborate successfully with influencers, from paying them for a single post on social media to a more long-term partnership, there are some key “rules” to follow whichever method they choose to use; here are my top 3:

1. Ensure the influencer is in line with your brand values

Our recent study found that one of the main attractions of influencers is that they’re ‘someone like me’, they’re seen to be impartial and therefore their views are trusted. As influencer marking becomes more common place, consumers are becoming savvier and can sniff out an influencer who genuinely likes the product they are promoting vs. an influencer who is only in it for the money. Ensuring influencers align with a brand’s values, so when they promote a product, it doesn’t seem completely out of place is key

2. Allow influencers freedom in how they present the product

It is pretty obvious when an influencer has been paid to post on social media and has been told what to say. When an influencer relationship becomes unauthentic, consumers are less likely to buy into the brand. Giving influencers freedom in how they present this, not only comes across as more authentic, but allows them to show how the product would fit into their lives

3. Ensure the influencer’s audience reflects your own

Many influencers will have their own niche, whether that’s make-up, gaming or politics. This presents brands with the opportunity to communicate with a specific group of people, so ensuring that they are communicating with the right group of people is key.

Easy, right?

Even with these rules in place it’s not always plain sailing. Firstly, it’s hard for brands to calculate the direct impact of partnering with an influencer on sales, especially when working with multiple influencers or as part of a larger marketing campaign. In fact, 38% of marketing managers openly admitted that they are unable to calculate the ROI of working with an influencer.

There are also issues directly linked to the influencer themselves. Influencer marketing is based on the popularity of the influencer, and when this is good it’s great. However, if the influencer is hit by negative or controversial press, this can dampen their appeal and can therefore have a knock-on effect to any partnerships they align themselves with.

And finally, there is the question of how relatable many of the most popular influencers are now. Whilst they may have started their blogs or YouTube channels or social media pages as ‘normal’ people, since their popularity has boomed many are earning extortionate amounts of money and living lifestyles many of us can only dream of. As mentioned earlier, a key attraction of influencers is that they are ‘someone like me’, so what happens when they aren’t anymore? Are their views still valued as they once were?

So what’s next? For me, I think there will always be a place for the big macro-influencers, the ‘Zoella’s’ of this world. These individuals have seen their audience grow exponentially so they now reach millions of people all over the world, many of whom will have been following them for years. This leads to a very loyal, community based following, who will always be there to support and buy into their endorsed products.

However, what I find more interesting is the rise of the micro-influencer, that is individuals with less than 100,000 followers on social media. These individuals often have a smaller reach but with this comes lower fees and often a more engaged following, ideal for smaller brands.

So, go forth and make use of the increasing influencer phenomenon, however, do your homework to make sure you are partnering with the right influencers for your brand.

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