In the past, marketers would secure a celebrity, sports star or supermodel to be the face of a campaign or endorsement deal. Think Cindy Crawford for Revlon, or Tiger Woods for Nike. With the evolution of influencer marketing however, brands are getting savvier by partnering with social influencers with engaged followings to promote products across their social platforms.
Originally, influencer marketing was viewed as a smaller version of celebrity endorsements, but over the last two years, there has been a major shift towards brands partnering with micro-influencers. More cost effective and with a stronger connection to their audience, fashion, food and lifestyle brands are among the many ramping up their budgets and implementing influencers as part of their campaign strategy.
Credit: Instagram @graceatwood
While activating influencers seems simple enough (and it is), there is a strategy involved to ensure campaign success. Here, we’ve listed a few DOs and DON’Ts to consider before partnering with a social star.
- Select an influencer based on targeted audience demographics. You wouldn’t advertise in a magazine without knowing its readership, and you shouldn’t partner with an influencer without researching their audience.
- When choosing influencers, context is key. Procure a person whose content or niche area of expertise is in line with your product.
- Build a relationship. An authentic affiliation between an influencer and your product is paramount. A long-term campaign is going to yield better results than a one-off post. It also exposes your product to an influencer’s audience over time. Take Something Navy’s Arielle Charnas, who starred in a global television commercial for TRESemmé that stemmed from a five-year relationship that started with a single blog post.
Credit: TRESemmé Indonesia YouTube Channel
- Abandon established marketing fundamentals for vanity metrics such as likes and comments. Target the right audience and make messaging consistent with your brand philosophy.
- Rely on a single influencer, allocating them all the power. Every influencer has thousands of twins. While it may sound harsh, no influencer is irreplaceable. You dictate the terms of the campaign, not the influencer.
Make an influencer the face of your brand. This will backfire should the influencer become embroiled in scandal or undertake work for a competitor. Classic examples include Paul Marcarelli, who was Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” guy for almost a decade. Marcarelli caused major embarrassment for the brand when he signed on as a spokesperson for Verizon’s competitor Sprint. And Subway couldn’t end Jared Fogle’s contract fast enough when he was arrested for pedophilia after gaining fame as “The Subway Guy” for years.
Partnering with influencers for long-term campaigns is fine, but making them the face of your brand leaves your company susceptible to risk that could take years to recover from.