Influencer Marketing Isn’t Dead, We Just Do It Wrong

Is Influencer Marketing still relevant and effective? You better believe it! It just comes down to the simple decisions that both the influencers and brands that want their services make.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to be a panelist at CoWork Ja’s Fireside Chat series discussing “Influencer Marketing: A Shift From Who to How”. Kamila McDonald, Romone Robinson, Kemar Highcon, Kristofferson Nunes and I shared some practical advice for both individuals who want to become influencers, as well as for companies wishing to engage them.

I got such great feedback from the event, I thought I’d share some of the key takeaways for anyone considering this path or already on it.

“INFLUENCERS”:

  •  Know who you are, what you represent and what your core values are. Authenticity is the best thing you could ever choose to operate in!
  • After having figured out the aforementioned, know who you are serving, i.e. your audience/community. Who are you talking to and how do you plan on serving them? Have a good idea of who you are trying to attract and then LOVE your tribe/niche.
  • Develop a credible reputation by being consistent with your brand messaging. You cannot be everything to everyone! You can display different things about your other interests and pursuits, but they must all be rooted in your consistent brand messages. 
  • Don’t use your audience when it is convenient. The most impactful influencers love their community members and care about their well-being. When you show up for them, you must respect and value their participation in your community. Social media is vast and noisy, be reminded that they have options. Therefore when they opt into your content, put some respect on their names!
  • Focus on the engagement and welcome the feedback. Don’t worry about vanity metrics such as likes and followers. Quality is better than quantity any day of the week! Often times your audience steers you in the direction and gives suggestions of how to enhance your content.
  • Show up consistently with your content. If you don’t take your content seriously, no one else will. Fans/followers unfollow, disengage and disconnect if your content is haphazard. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  •  “Be wary of the Greeks when they come bearing gifts.” As your numbers grow, you will naturally command attention (whether you like it or not) which means that brands (companies and individuals) will start to send gifts, propose collaborations, ambassadorships and possible endorsements in order to get to the captive audience you have worked so diligently to attain. Don’t be quick to accept things, don’t be quick to sell out your soul and community for brands that don’t seek to enhance your platform but rather take from it. Try to align with those who echo your sentiments or who have similar brand values. When you have a standard, your community and other brands will respect it. 
  • If you choose to engage with a company or brand, set your terms and conditions. Remember this is your audience, you stand to lose the most if the deal goes south. Don’t have companies brand all over your page and ask for a ridiculous amount of posts if they are not paying for that level of access and exclusivity.
  • Be creative. Lawks, please don’t pose like staged mannequins with branded products and disconnected captions. It isn’t natural and screams ad- you know, the same ads that people are trying to skip. You know your audience best (or at least you should) so you should know how best to communicate to your audience that is mutually beneficial to your client and community.

Influencer Marketing and “BRANDS”:

Local companies are still very clueless when it comes to understanding and respecting influencer marketing. They assume that a one size-fits all non-strategy will help boost their visibility and campaign. 

Where do I even begin with the companies, let me count the ways: 

  • Actually research the term Influencer Marketing. Familiarise yourself with what it actually is before engaging “influencers”. You look ill-prepared and out of touch when you throw around words but don’t have a clue about its practical use.
  • Research the influencer you want to engage with in order to propose an effective campaign. Do your homework! You want to ensure that that influencer actually represents the company’s brand values as well. It will be a crisis management situation if you engage an influencer who might be popular but serves absolutely no purpose and might even tragically bring disrepute to your brand.
  • Do not use recycled influencers. For the love of God, please do not use the same people who are constantly rotated and recycled on social media for a variety of brands. The optics are terrible and your campaign won’t be effective because 1) your brand will probably get lost amongst all the others that the influencer is already promoting. 2) an influencer who is used by everyone literally dilutes his/her brand credibility and by extension dilutes your brand experience.
  • Do not just look at the vanity metrics! They don’t mean a thing. I am particularly asking for the agencies who “advise” clients to not rely solely on likes and follower numbers. Choose influencers that may even be micro-influencers who may be more effective for your client’s brand. Some people have bought those likes and followers. Trust me you don’t want to spend bucks on bots (just saying). Look at engagement and actually ask for insights before you engage. Again, quality vs quantity!
  • Respect others’ platforms and communities. Influencers have created content at their expense – investing time, effort, equipment, etc. to create and curate content and build their audience. Then all companies only want to do is offer them free samples or free tickets. Come again?! The same respect and budget you put into traditional marketing, make allotments for influencer marketing. Everything has a value and that value even if it can be negotiated, should be respected. Global companies do it and so should you! 
  • Be creative. Don’t stick a product in the hand of a beautiful influencer, give them a cheesy caption to copy and paste, then brand the photo with your logo. Influencer marketing is about the soft sell, organic, relatable and hopefully authentic. Please stop using hard-sell tactics on digital platforms. Instead, come with a strategy based on your product/service, what you have researched on the influencer, and your target audience. BTW, to “pick an influencer’s brain” to conceptualize your company’s strategy comes at a cost. You pay your agencies, so pay influencers who develop creative concepts for you. 

Take a look at some of the (hilarious) photos from the event

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