While some content creators may hesitate to call themselves ‘influencers’, the unavoidable truth is that if you’re actively leveraging your online persona for personal or business objectives, you’re in influencer marketing terrain. Brands seeking to drive growth through influencer marketing are taking notice of an increasing pool of talented content creators with loyal and engaged online audiences.
This sponsored article shares five questions influencers should ask when developing working relationships with brands.
Our personal journey into influencer marketing
When we started our blog in 2015, we did not initially consider ourselves to be influential in any way. We were simply focused on occupying our small corner of the internet and telling our stories through innovative content. Those were simple days.
Before long, brands began to approach us with opportunities to support their marketing campaigns and our realisation of our own influence grew as a result. Unfortunately, those early days were marked by confusion, including not knowing how much to charge and which brands and opportunities were worth risking our own credibility for.
Receiving our first award in 2016 for best UK Food Blog
However, as our audience grew, we began to place more value on our influence and became more adept at selecting opportunities that allowed us to truly add value to the brands we worked with and to the audiences whose attention we had painstakingly cultivated.
Self-service platforms like getchr.com now make it easier for influencers to discover and connect directly with brands, pitch their ideas, showcase examples of their work and develop sustainable relationships.
Who is a social media influencer?
A social media influencer is an individual who is regarded as an authority in one or multiple disciplines and who typically uses a range of digital platforms for expression.
While the discussion rages about how to measure real influence, the basis of influencer marketing is that the individual has a high potential to impact the purchasing decisions of their audience.
Social media influencer swiping on phone
From solely relying on big name celebrities, brands are increasingly keen to filter their messaging through micro influencers – defined by the US Association of National Advertisers (ANA) as those with 50 to 25,000 followers – who have comparatively smaller but captive online audiences.
While content creators typically use a variety of platforms to reach their audiences, a recent ANA survey noted that Facebook (86 percent) and Instagram (84 percent) were the overall top social media channels for influencer marketing.
A major goal for brands adopting influencer marketing as a strategy is to attract and retain relevant audiences – and, ultimately, to drive some form of conversion through audience action.
5 questions influencers should ask when working with brands
Brands looking to work with influencers typically face an overwhelming range of options to choose from. Decision making is made more complicated by skepticism at some of the claims made by influencers.
Brands are wise to question the credibility of influencers who present large social media follower numbers as evidence of their clout. In reality, follower numbers do not always equate to engagement.
Influencers, on the other hand, worry about being seen as ‘sellouts’ by their followers for pushing brand messaging which clearly does not fit with their traditional tone of voice.
So how can influencers choose the right brands to work with and ensure that their relationship with the brand is mutually beneficial? Below we present five questions influencers should ask when making a decision to work with brands.
HDYTI Tip: The very first question should really about money. While this may appear forward, we’ve learned how important it is to qualify an opportunity by asking whether the brand has any budget for the project. We’ll write a whole separate blog post on this later. Thanks to reader Mike Huxley for feeding back on this!
#1: Are you really the right fit?
Whether or not you regard yourself as an influencer, it is impossible to deny the rush of excitement when a brand approaches you with an offer. However, before rushing into a relationship, consider a few things first, top of which is whether the brand aligns with your own values.
Critically consider whether you have the credibility to help the brand to tell their story. No matter how appealing the opportunity looks, you will save yourself a world of trouble by being honest about your concerns and limitations. If the shoe does not fit, don’t force it.
Your audience, who are familiar with your tone of voice, will be quick to detect when you are pushing a brand message that lacks authenticity and relevance. In time, they will tune out anything that appears false. It is far easier to lose the trust of your followers than it was to build that trust in the first place.
Also, consider whether an opportunity conflicts with any other brands in your portfolio. Conflicting values and messaging will leave your audience confused and your credibility in doubt.
Platforms like getchr.com, which provide basic information to help both the brand and the influencer assess each other’s suitability, are increasingly relevant to this courtship process.
#2: What are the brand’s objectives?
From our personal experience, not every brand that approaches us has clear ideas about what they expect or how they want the relationship to work.
Typically, influencers may be approached by brands looking to:
increase brand awareness;
increase website traffic;
increase app downloads; and
increase their number of followers on social channels as well as engagement.
As influencers, we feel that we know our audience and our subject areas to a reasonable degree. This places us in a position where we can drive the conversation with potential brands towards a more realistic set of objectives based on that knowledge.
Influencers should constructively challenge brands about their campaign objectives with a view to achieving clarity and potentially arriving at more realistic budgets for the work involved.
Before progressing the relationship, seek to review a brand’s objectives and budget for a marketing opportunity. Platforms like getchr.com aim to make this process a lot easier
#3: What are you being asked to deliver?
Critical to the success of the influencer/brand relationship is having a clear understanding of the deliverables expected from the engagement. These should always be discussed as early as possible with the brand.
Examples of deliverables include:
type of content to be developed e.g., written content, video, photography;
key messages to be highlighted in the content;
hashtags to be used;
frequency and number of posts;
content delivery schedule; and
progress reports and performance statistics.
While it may be tempting to get carried away by an approach from an exciting brand, it is important to not only agree on deliverables upfront but also to clarify the number of reviews and levels of approval expected.
Brands, in turn, should provide a basic set of guidelines but respect the creative spacewithin which influencers flourish.
#4: Do you have a written agreement?
Formalising the relationship through a written contract seems like common sense but in the rush to execute the marketing project, some influencers often overlook this critical step.
Hands writing contract
Apart from the obvious discussion on pricing, other questions that need to be asked include:
Does the brand want creative control over the deliverables?
Are they demanding exclusive access to images or written content?
Is there room for the influencer to renegotiate the terms and conditions if the brand reneges on the initial agreement and vice versa?
Is there agreement on how to comply with advertising industry guidelines for declaring sponsored/paid content?
These are just some critical questions which need to be addressed and established in contracts from the onset of the working relationship.
#5: How can you help brands demonstrate ROI?
In a 2017 study of marketers cited by Digiday UK, most of the marketers surveyed said that determining the return on investment (ROI) was their biggest challenge with influencer marketing.
ROI Flat lay
Depending on the nature, complexity and duration of the project, influencers should expect to provide insights into the performance of their deliverables. Freely available tools, including native social media analytics tools, can provide different levels of insight.
For example, knowing why an Instagram post is showing high engagement can help to identify opportunities to leverage or enhance it. In another example, a poorly performing Facebook post may present a learning opportunity which could help brands and influencers to adjust their strategies and expectations in future campaigns.
Brands and influencers should discuss and agree which metrics are important to report during and after the campaign to demonstrate ROI. Examples include views/impressions, brand velocity across social channels, and engagement (i.e., comments, likes, shares, clicks/conversions).
One more thing: Focus on building quality relationships!
As with any other type of relationship, think long term.
Influencers need to position themselves to support longer-term brand objectives e.g., recurring campaigns. A one-off blog post, video or product review might look great in the short-term but its impact could be further enhanced when situated within the context of a long-term relationship.
Influencers could benefit from using platforms like getchr.com which provide opportunities to objectively assess brands and their marketing objectives.
By asking these five questions, influencers can increase the potential for successful and long term brand relationships through building trust and seeking transparency.
Disclosure: This post was produced in collaboration with getchr.com,\ an online community tool which enables businesses to actively search, discover and connect directly with influencers to promote their brand, product, service or events. However, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.
Eulanda & Omo
Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI
Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).