The Ins and Outs to a Successful Influencer Partnership: Part Two
While attending Digital Summit in Tampa last month, I had the pleasure of hearing Brittany Ward, Founder & CEO of CreateCollabs, give a talk on how to work with influencers successfully. I caught up with her afterward and exchanged information knowing she would be the ideal person to interview for a more in-depth look at influencer partnerships.
But first, who is Brittany Ward? She is a brand marketer with 13+ years of industry experience working with brands including Burger King Corp, Buffalo Wild Wings, Disney, and Fox Sports Florida. After a successful career resulting in double-digit brand growth, international headlines, and viral stardom, Brittany is now focused on growing CreateCollabs.com -- the first and only platform to give direct influencer access to brand campaigns for authentic advocacy and content solutions.
With all of that experience, I was excited to hear Brittany’s take on the following questions so let’s dive right in!
Q: What are the two or three most important factors to look at when deciding if an influencer is a fit for my brand? Following, writing style, engagement, etc.
A: Selecting an influencer as a brand partner can be a daunting task. There are so many factors to consider when it comes to picking the right person that aligns with your campaign needs.
I would use 3 qualifying factors to determine a potential fit.
1. Number of Followers: does this person’s ENGAGED followers align with our brand’s need for reach (number of total followers means nothing if no one is listening or participating)
2. Followers Demo: does this person’s audience demo align with our brand’s core demo
3. Curated Content: will this person and their followers care about our product/service
If your potential influencer checks all these boxes, then I would look for the most critical telltale signs that align with the right brand partner. These are the factors that make or break a collab. It determines if your campaign will read disingenuine or authentic. This is what most brands skip.
Core values: do they seem to share your brand’s core values (i.e., sustainability, healthy lifestyle, eco-conscious… or whatever you stand for to help change peoples’ lives.)
Creative direction: is their tone, persona, imagery, and editing, complementary to your brand? (If you have to ask them to change it - it will look fake/staged/inauthentic. Giving direction is much different from receiving dictation.)
Q: What's the best way to turn my influencer from a one-time visitor to a brand ambassador?
A: Start from GO! The best-case scenario is that you find influencers who would be a customer in real life. It creates synergy and brand advocacy that cannot be made up. Start by seeking influencers for a long term partnership, rather than one sponsored post include them in the length of the campaign. That could look like 1 post for 4 months or a new blog post for each new product release over the next year. The bottom line is to make them feel like a valued brand partner that gets behind the scene access and first chance to show it off to their audience.
Q: How can I re-purpose the content I receive from the influencer after their stay? Can I use it on social media or print advertising?
A: This is such an important question, mostly because brands skip right over this valuable influencer contents' long term potential. You should be thinking about what you will do with the influencer content after the post/blog/video goes live before ever establishing a partnership and signing a contract. You should be absolutely explicit in how you intend to use their content after they publish it to get the necessary legal release and licensing. If you want to reshare their content without credit, you will need this in writing - the same as you would purchase a license from adobe stock. However, if you want to reshare their content, the best practices are the get their approval in writing and use a mention or credit them wherever you choose to reshare the content.
Q: What should I expect to receive from an influencer in return for their comped stay at a hotel? Static posts, Instagram stories, blog posts, etc.
A: Influencer marketing, unlike other paid ads, is not a “budget in - impressions out” equation. There are many variables to consider when inviting an influencer to stay at your property. Think of them as not just an influencer, but a content creator (a.k.a. photographer, videographer, copywriter, etc.) You would pay these people all based on the amount of content you need to have created. An influencer is no different.
Consider a few things when determining a fair market trade…
1. The varying value of your hotel stay (to them):
Are they local? (Oh, they have their own bed they could sleep in for free…whoopy they get to stay in your hotel bed)
Did they have to travel to stay at your location? (Oh, they had to pay to drive or fly to get there…)
The value of their audience:
A general influencer rule is to charge $100 per 10k followers. This is a very, very loose metric. If you find a true brand advocate, they may do it for far less versus someone who is an exceptional “story-teller” with a highly engaged audience may rightfully request considerably more.
The most important thing to consider is that you can ask for any or all of these items - but you should do it upfront and in writing with very clear deliverables, so there is no confusion or room for misinterpretation (oh, I thought you meant 3 posts only on Instagram, not Facebook too?).
Q: In your opinion, will influencer partnerships lose any value from Instagram not showing likes? Currently testing in Canada & other countries but not in the US, yet.
A: This is the BEST question ever. I love the idea of “likes” going away on Instagram. I think it will make everyone raise their game, influencers, and brands.
Influencers will have to depend more on the storytelling and visual aspects of the value they deliver. Likes, followers… that can be bought. But a well planned and well-executed post and caption cannot be faked.
Brands will have to focus more on the human value in the profile and content than the L.L.M (lazy like metric). :)
Q: What is the biggest mistake a brand makes while working with an influencer & how can this be avoided?
A: The biggest mistake I see time and time again is skipping the most important part of choosing their influencer: core values and creative direction. If you let those be your north star, you cannot go wrong with an influencer campaign.