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If the past few years have been any indication, influencers are here to stay as a part of the expanding marketing mix.
But rather than another creative channel, influencers are micro-CEOs of their own media empires. I had the recent fortune of interviewing 50 influencers of varying follower sizes spanning across different industries, to try to uncover some of the secrets of the hustle. These are their stories.
Bow to the Community
Creating a community as an influencer is a never-ending effort that takes years to build. All that credibility can be dashed in an instant if your authenticity comes under fire (or Fyre, as influencers faced a lot of backlash in the wake of the Fyre Festival).
Loreen Hwang of Coucou Joulie is an influencer with an audience of over 100,000 followers. She says, “Making sure you’re authentic to yourself, to your audience. Sometimes I get offers that are great but then I think do I want my page or blog to be a giant ad? Of course not. Your audience can see right through that. ”
Brands need to respect this when approaching influencers. Ultimately, an influencer isn’t a patch for a product that won’t deliver . Just like influencers can’t buy a genuine community, brands trying to work with influencers can’t expect influencers to willingly evangelize a terrible product.
Creativity and Trust at the Core of the Relationship
Every influencer I surveyed said they’ve turned down brand requests at least once. Influencers declined to work with a brand when the company or product did not align with their values or personal brand. But even when the brand aligned, the issue came down to creative freedom.
Food blogger and macroinfluencer Talia Koren, manager of the massive community Workweek Lunch, says, “Have an open mind! Quality influencers know their audience best. They know what content will perform best, what times are best to post for their audience and how best to communicate or present new products, concepts, and ideas.”
Treating influencers as another transactional channel is pitfall brands can fall into. The grit required to build a community from scratch yields some important wisdom that only that influencer can truly share. Micromanagement undermines this relationship. Sure, you want the content to be on-brand, but treat your relationships with influencers as strategic partnerships to yield the best results.
Where’s the ROI?
Measuring the efficacy of influencer marketing requires agreed-upon goals set forth from the beginning. And while the results brands are hoping to get from influencer marketing varies heavily, simply having these KPI’s can set your partnership up for success. Whether brands are using promo codes to measure sales, or simply seeking exposure and engagement, its critical to ensure everyone is aligned.
Lifestyle and fashion microinfluencer Whitney Powell, who blogs at Whit Wanders, says she “tries to manage brands expectations for each campaign (i.e. benchmarks for Swipe-up on IG or CTR for blog posts). Influencer marketing is typically a higher funnel tactic and brands should focus on awareness, frequency of exposure, traffic and long-term benefits like SEO.”
Working with an influencer is an exciting opportunity for brands—it’s an excellent way to provide social proof and word-of-mouth advertising. Brands need to forge better, meaningful partnerships with influencers to get the most value.
As influencer marketing becomes increasingly popular with brands of all sizes, remaining true to the community, allowing creative flexibility and setting realistic goals from the beginning will set strategic brands apart.
May 30, 2019 at 08:07AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs