Still Human: Managing Influencer Campaigns

Image by Mateus Campos Felipe (Unsplash)

From the previous article: an influencer’s follower count, engagement rate and brand suitability need first be confirmed.

Once those boxes are ticked and an influencer is selected, there is still a considerable way to go before the brand and product is introduced to target audiences ― i.e. the process of getting an actual campaign running.

There are lessons to be learnt, as engaging an influencer all the way to having post(s) be uploaded to their feed is quite a process. The same with personal relationships, communicating well in professional settings is key to everyone being satisfied. 

With influencers, the tone to set is usually somewhere between two extremes, as on one hand it isn’t supposed to feel like advertising, yet the campaign is meant to increase awareness and engagement of the brand, possibly leading to greater sales as an indirect result. 

If a relationship is poorly managed, the campaign being held might not be as effective as needed. At times, an influencer may not seem as invested in the campaign as you feel is needed, potentially leading to them not cultivating the awareness sought by brands.

1. Personal Outreach

When it comes to making contact with influencers, whether to cast the net wide or far is often the question. While trying to sell the idea of a product to the influencer, there’s the option of writing messages in their particular flavour. 

And though deadlines are ever-present, it is important to write to an influencer in a way that melds their particular tone with the brand’s own, to increase the odds of their interest.  

After zeroing in on a potential partner, start establishing a relationship in the easiest way possible – by engaging with them on the platform. By following them, be inquisitive about their content or genuinely show support and interest. 

With outreach, there tend to be two channels ― by email and personal message (PM). For influencers with too large a following, PMs can get lost in their already flooded inbox, with no guarantee of it being read, much less replied to. 

After that comes the email. Usually cut and dry, using specific tone and messaging and tone will work far better. Here, establish the brand’s legitimacy and the agency’s capacity as a representative, then set clear examples of the content desired, all without leaving the possibility of remuneration.

If a particular influencer stands out and their content resonates strongly, comment on their posts with specifics while taking a similar, unadulterated tone of voice to signal passion. That way, the best foot gets put forward and they will have a general good-feel about this new relationship. In the end, influencers are human beings and cannot be treated as another form of advertising media.

2. Fair Negotiations

How does one go about agreeing on expectations that would suit both parties? How does one set their budgets, and is there even a ceiling price? 

From the onset, be sure to convey and offer terms of cooperation and compensation, as especially with larger influencers, the perception is that the brand needs them more than they need the brand. For better or worse, these two will often determine whether they want to continue collaborating.

Incentives tend to scale with the influencer’s reach and engagement rates. In our observation, though there are exceptions, with larger influencers of 100,000 followers or more, the usual response is monetary compensation, as social media is likely to take up more of their time, possibly even becoming their full-time job. 

From our own research, smaller or less heavily committed micro-influencers who have less than 50,000 followers, may be satisfied or happy simply keeping the marketed product. That being said, influencer fees have no ceiling price, work to balance a given budget against the influencer’s expectations, hopefully, meet in the middle without any parting feeling cheated of their resources.

3. Creative Parameters

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Image Source: Crowdtap

Next, recognize that influencers are picked to market a brand in the first place thanks to their ability to consistently engage their audiences ― in their own unique voice.

Through time, they have been able to cultivate a following that responds to their style. With each post, they better understand followers’ likes and dislikes. 

This is to say that they should be allowed creative freedom when posting. As in the survey conducted, influencers respond the most to creative freedom, more so than competitive compensation. 

Often, a brand’s own tastes and preferences are part of the picture when marketing on social media. To balance the two, present to the influencer case studies of campaigns thought to be replicable. 

From there, some time will remain between the targeted post date. Try keeping communications open and check in on them if they’ve been silent, on the off-chance they are struggling. 

Keeping the number of drafts low may be best for them, to not stifle their creativity and have them simply do what they’ve done best.

4. Post and Payment Timelines

When products are thrust upon influencers in very direct and at short notice, they can feel stifled; like they do not have room to breathe, ideate and ultimately create engaging content. 

This applies especially to influencers whose social media gigs are part-time endeavours. 

Remember that they are not the brand’s employees, and often have a following due a perception that they live their best lives. Depending on the product’s niche, the influencer may need to consider and decide which direction to take it in and would require more time.

Again drawing a parallel to personal relationships, reciprocity can play a big part in having posts come out on time; friends, acquaintances, and employees often desire a balanced relationship. 

In this case, influencers do appreciate when the payment comes to them in as timely a manner as their required post dates. 

All in all, it is still possible to respect their work while setting professional expectations by treating influencers as people who desire understanding, creative freedom and fair compensation.

By Hongrui Chin, Public Relations Executive, Mustard Tree Communications

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