Everywhere you go, people are vlogging in public, taking drool-worthy pictures of their meals, and posing for the perfect Instagram post in front of every social-media-famous location. Before you knew it, they’ve made the process of documenting their lives into a full-blown career of being social media influencers.
While some turn their noses up at influencers, the smartest brands are leveraging their unapologetic confidence and charismatic online presence to reach their target audiences. And believe it or not, this method has proven to be the most effective strategy for customer acquisition in recent years.
But that doesn’t mean brands have got it all figured out. Influencer partnerships still come with both pain points and benefits. Today, we’ll discuss the highlights and pitfalls of working with influencers, and how you can avoid some of the common problems that brands run into when building influencer relationships.
Pros of working with influencers
Supercharged word-of-mouth marketing
One of the biggest reasons influencer marketing works is because it acts as a supercharged version of word-of-mouth marketing. For decades, people have been basing their purchase decisions on things they hear from people they trust, like close friends and family. In today’s digital age, they’re turning to their most trusted online resource — influencers.
Contrary to popular belief, most influencers care deeply about being authentic and transparent with their audiences. They don’t want to compromise the strong relationships they’ve built with their audience by working with a brand they don’t actually like. They know their audiences rely on them for genuine advice and insight into the latest products on the market.
That’s why recommendations from a trusted and knowledgeable influencer have 4x the impact on a consumer’s purchase decision than a regular recommendation. By extension, working with a reliable influencer will build trust and credibility for your brand.
Of course, influencers create beautiful, eye-catching content, but that’s not the sole reason people love to follow them. The real reason social media influencer marketing works is because of the genuine relationships influencers share with their online audiences.
Influencers are great at opening up and sharing stories about everyday moments — the good and the bad. They’re relatable, yet aspirational, which is why people are drawn to their lives.
Take a look at these Instagram influencers, for example.
In the post above, @brepurposed candidly talks about her struggles of being a busy mom and how HelloFresh has made her life easier by streamlining her meal-prepping process. Below, fitness influencer @jamestjunior talks about how C4 helps him push through his workouts, despite feeling off on some days.
While these are both #ads, they are also life moments that many people can relate to. Working with an influencer to communicate your company’s message will help to humanize your brand and even increase brand awareness in an organic way.
Efficient way to source content
One of the biggest problems that marketers run into is sourcing large amounts of content for various channels. They spend tens of thousands of dollars on hiring creative teams, arranging photoshoots, and hiring models. Then, they have to wait weeks (or even months!) for the images to be edited, approved, and uploaded. And too often, the content turns out to be bland and unrelatable to consumers.
By working with influencers, you can cut back on the stress of this expensive, time-consuming process. Influencers are models, photographers, videographers, editors, and creative directors all rolled up into one package. They can quickly produce high-quality, diverse, relatable content that resonates with every one of your target audiences.
And influencer-generated content (IGC) doesn’t just have to live on social media, especially since IGC sees over 8x the engagement rate of brand-directed content. Brands tapping into Instagram influencer marketing can repurpose IGC across all marketing channels — including other social media platforms, websites, paid ads, emails, and more — to extract even more value out of their partnerships.
Cons of working with influencers
The media today is saturated with news about the "death of influencer marketing.” But in reality, there are only a few reasons influencer collaborations go wrong. Brands that have poor experiences working with influencers may have picked the wrong influencers, didn’t communicate their brand guidelines thoroughly, or managed their relationships manually instead of scaling their program.
Below, we’ve outlined those three mistakes and provided solutions for each one.
Alignment with the brand
According to eMarketer, 75% of marketers agree that the most challenging step in rolling out an influencer marketing strategy is identifying the right group of influencers for each campaign. But this is arguably one of the most important components of running a successful influencer marketing campaign.
Brands need to do their research and team up with those who create content that fits organically with their company’s messaging, aesthetic, and the like. If you don’t vet influencers properly and work with any influencer, both your brand and the influencer face the risk of ruining your reputation.
On the other hand, you are guaranteed to see higher ROI from campaigns you run with the right influencers. If you find a good match, invest in them and build long-term partnerships to make future campaigns flow smoothly!
Do you find that you have difficulty getting influencers to respond to your emails? Then you may not personalize your outreach enough. In order to stand out in the endless sea of emails, you need to customize each one. Make sure to include:
- Their first name
- Reasons you think they would be a good fit for your brand
- Campaign overview and timeline
- Deliverables you’re looking for
- Call to action
Also, consider influencers’ busy schedules. Many influencers have full-time jobs in addition to their side hustle, and most of them are juggling multiple contracts at the same time. Be patient and give them enough time to get back to you. For more advice, check out 9 Things Influencers Wish You Knew.
Difficult to manage individual relationships
Let’s say you’ve found the right influencers, connected with them, signed a contract, and have sent them your products to try out. Now, you’ve got numerous individual conversations going on simultaneously, countless pieces of content to comb through and approve, and many different collaborations to handle. Without a tool, you may miss important conversations and damage relationships.
We understand that managing influencer relationships is by far the hardest part of working with influencers. That’s why we’ve built AspireIQ to streamline the entire partnership.
How can you avoid these pitfalls?
Tip #1 — Find the right influencer. As we’ve stressed above, this is one of the most important parts of your influencer strategy. To learn best practices on how to find an influencer who aligns well with your brand, check out our blog post, 4 Tips for Identifying the Right Influencers.
Tip #2 — Partner with micro-influencers. While working with top influencers is tempting because of the sheer number of likes and comments they get, teaming up with micro-influencers is actually a better strategy most of the time. Compared to macro-influencers who have huge followings, micro-influencers earn higher engagement rates for a lower cost per action. If your brand is targeting a niche audience, micro-inﬂuencers with high engagement may be a better fit for your brand because of their reliability, specialized content, and strong connection with their audience.
Tip #3 — Track the ROI of your campaigns. The only way to know if your strategy is working is to test and invest. This means experimenting with the influencers you work with based on their demographic, style of content, and more. Measure the metrics from each collaboration, and re-invest in the influencers bringing in the highest ROI.
Tip #4 — Use an influencer marketing agency or platform. Hiring an influencer agency takes away the brunt of the work, as this means that a third-party will run the influencer campaign for a brand. However, using an agency also means that the brand doesn’t have full transparency into what is going on behind the scenes.
That’s why investing in an influencer marketing platform is the best solution. An influencer marketing platform like AspireIQ streamlines every part of the collaboration — including influencer discovery, management, and analytics — while giving you full control of the campaign.