Unlike traditional marketing methods, influencer marketing isn’t about directly persuading consumers to buy a product. It’s about building relationships with consumers and leveraging their trust to recommend products to them instead.
The focus is on creating authentic, engaging, and informative content about a brand’s products or services. These opinions, of course, come from industry experts (based on their personal experiences) and not the brands themselves. That’s precisely why consumers are more willing to explore offerings from brands they’ve never tried before.
According to a study by Linqia, 86% of marketers have used influencer marketing with a staggering 94% finding it effective. Another key finding from the survey was that 89% of marketers have relied on influencer marketing to create authentic content about their brands.
Image via Linqia
Clearly then, authenticity is the “IT” factor that can make or break your campaign. Let’s take a look at how you can bring authenticity to your influencer marketing campaign.
1. Target the Right Influencers to Work With
A lot depends on the influencers you choose to work with and the relationships you build with them. And it all starts with finding the right people to work with. But how do you find them?
Start by looking for influencers who belong to your niche. Look for people who’ve produced content on products similar to yours. This way, if you partner with them, the content they post for you will seamlessly blend with their other content and won’t look inauthentic.
Better yet, look for influencers who already use your products because then the content will come off as more genuine. When building a list of potential candidates, be weary of fake influencers and ones that rely on bots and fake users to fluff up their numbers.
Work on building a dataset with all the relevant details of the influencers you’re considering. Add more substance and value to the same by sourcing relevant data from external sources. The aim should be to enhance and enrich the quality of data you have. Data enrichment will make it easier to make an informed decision on which candidates to pursue further.
Include their social media presence, reach, engagement rates, niche, and verified contact details. Once you have that sorted out, you can start working on your outreach process and building your campaign.
Influencer discovery is a lot like trying to fit the right peg in the right hole. Work with influencers who resonate with your brand, and your campaign will be an authentic success. Collaborate with ones who don’t, and it may end up an inauthentic failure.
Essentially, if you’re a brand looking to promote your plus-size apparel, you want a model who promotes body positivity. Like Premme and Gabi here.
Image via Instagram
2. Get Influencers to Share Real Stories
People are tired of looking at the same scripted and aspirational brand content in their social media feed. They want more authentic, heartfelt and genuine content. And there’s nothing more authentic than content based on true, personal experiences.
Rather than bombarding your target audience with sponsored ads, give them thought-provoking and organic content. The way to do that, of course, is to have your influencers create posts based on their own experiences with your products.
These can take the form of unboxing videos, product reviews, or even customer testimonials. People are more likely to connect with this kind of content besides finding it more useful and value-adding.
Tech and gadget influencers like Marques Brownlee are known for being candid in their reviews. He lists out the perks as well as any limitations of the gadgets he reviews on his YouTube channel.
Image via YouTube
A unique way to create content focussed on personal experiences is to leverage employee advocacy. Just like your most satisfied and loyal customers, your employees can be your best brand advocates.
Not influencers in the traditional sense, their thoughts, and opinion about the business count for a lot. Don’t just have them share brand-related content. Instead, have them create and share their own content on social media.
Just look at Cisco and their Champions Program. The company has created a B2B influencer marketing campaign around its IT advocates, often called “Cisco Champions.” They encourage their champions to share their expertise and knowledge on their products on social media.
Image via Cisco
#CiscoChat on Twitter is another element of the program. The company has created several videos and podcasts featuring their champions. With 55,000 tweets, innumerable blog posts, and over 8,000 mentions, they’ve really hit the nail on its head with this one.
Image via Twitter
3. Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes
According to FTC guidelines, influencers have to declare if their partnerships are brand sponsored. This is to make consumers aware of the partnership and help them to make informed decisions.
But just because a post is sponsored, doesn’t mean it’s not authentic. To create an authentic campaign, you need to tell a powerful and compelling story about your product.
For the campaign to have any impact on your audience, you want to highlight the values and benefits of your product.
Carl Thompson’s review of the Philips DiamondClean electric toothbrush is a good example. Besides talking about the product itself, he drives home the benefit of a boost in confidence owing to the use of Philips’ products.
Image via YouTube
Content created for the sole purpose of selling a product won’t generate as much engagement with an influencer’s followers. On the other hand, content that resonates with audiences and adds value to them will compel them to engage with your brand.
4. Give Them Creative Freedom
This doesn’t get said enough, but a mistake that brands tend to make is not giving influencers much creative freedom. Micromanaging your influencers and not giving them much room to work with is never the way to go. It can adversely impact the authenticity of your campaign.
Always remember that an influencer knows their audience best. They understand what sort of content their followers are seeking, and how to drive higher engagements. You don’t want to force your own words into their posts because their followers will know something is up.
While you still hold the final say, you should allow your influencers to get creative and innovative with their content. Just take Next Games and the promotional videos they had influencers like Inanna Sarkis create for their new Walking Dead Game.
Image via YouTube
The success of your influencer marketing campaign will depend on your ability to strike a chord with your intended audience. Creating uninspired content lacking any authenticity will result in your campaign falling short of your goals. But if you keep the above-mentioned tips in mind, you’ll see your business grow manifold.
If you have any insights on the matter or other tips you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below.