Twenty-some years ago before social media existed, Cindy, Claudia, and Naomi were the go-to “influencers” of their time – commanding top dollar from the world’s most prominent brands for appearances and endorsement deals. Today, Rocky, Chiara, and Shea are a few of the influencer powerhouses who can move the needle for a brand with just a single sponsored mention or post. As the global number of internet users, online transactions, and social media subscribers continues to grow, brands are increasingly adopting the influencer marketing platform to enhance brand exposure, generate higher customer engagement, and ultimately raise their bottom lines. This month, Matt Kirschner, Partner and EVP at Talent Resources (a premier full-service celebrity/influencer and social media marketing agency), gives us the short story on influencer partnerships. Whether you are an influencer wanting better brand deals or a company wanting to work with influencers, these are the five things you need to know right now.
1. Authenticity is key.
There are many factors to consider when determining whether or not to hire a celebrity/influencer for a brand deal that it's hard to choose just one. That being said, the concept of authenticity is one that I've found to be extremely valuable to brands, as they generally do not want simply a "celeb for hire" type of scenario when bringing talent on board. Whether it's for an event, a social media campaign or simply a "one-off" social media post, brands value the authentic and real connection that talent hopefully shares with them and their brand's values. If there is an authentic and real connection between the talent and the brand it will come across much more sincere to their fans, followers and media alike.
2. Engagement Matters.
There is an increased emphasis on the role that a talent's social media engagement numbers have when brands are preparing their influencer strategies and deciding whom to implement into their digital programs. The number of followers that an influencer/talent has can be somewhat misleading for a brand. Given that Facebook and Instagram algorithms do not always allow all of your followers to see your content right away, a person with 5 million followers may not come close to having that number actually see their content in real-time. In addition, a large cumulative number of followers, while impressive, is not indicative of that person's overall relevance at the time of a brand's campaign, but their engagement (a mix of likes, comments, shares, re-posts etc) is a far more accurate depiction of the way in which the overall social media community views a particular influencer in that moment.
3. Instagram reigns supreme.
Instagram (and by extension Instagram Stories) is without a doubt the most heavily utilized platform for branded campaigns. However, each of our clients have a specific target demographic that they seek to reach based on the goals of each campaign and the different social platforms can be utilized in a variety of ways in order achieve that successful reach. Traditionally, the in-feed post on a talent’s Instagram page is the most requested item from a brand. However, over the last twelve months, we have seen a large shift to Instagram stories as the inclusion of direct links via “swipe-ups” have helped brands generate immediate sales that can be tracked and analyzed with actual data from the campaign. In terms of Twitter, it is by no means a forgotten platform though we have seen it primarily featured as an amplification tool for the content that the talent is already posting.
4.Set clear partnerships goals and expectations from the onset to measure success later.
Before committing to a talent, we ensure that our clients have a clear definition of what their successful KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) will be, and that helps us with the curation of our talent suggestions for the client to review and choose from. There are various ways to determine whether a brand deal is a success for the client, as it is dependent upon what the brand’s original goals were. If overall reach and engagement are the ultimate goals, then we look at the number of likes, comments and overall impressions that the post or program received. Other times, and dependent upon the platform, we will look at the click-through rate on a link, overall sales that take place using an influencer’s unique discount code, etc.
5. To thine own self be true.
It cannot go unsaid that the aesthetic, tone and overall feel of a branded post must still be in line with the talent’s overall personality, or it will lose any value to their audience. If I could give any words of advice to influencers and talent looking to secure more brand deals, I would say to remain authentic and true to your core audience and demographic, and that means sometimes having to say “no” to a branded opportunity, despite the offer put in front of them. Brands respect and want to work with people that have a genuine connection to their audience, as it will only serve to enhance their program or campaign.