Influencers exhibit brand-like behavior, from detailed care of their content to tracking engagement and online impact, but they can be much more effective at conveying certain messages because, unlike brands, they have the freedom to display a unique personality and engage your audience on a personal and even intimate level. This allows them to develop considerable trust and reliability among their followers, which is invaluable for an aspirational brand.
This also means that a poorly executed influence link will be immediately identified as such and rejected by these same followers. So choosing the right influencers to partner with is trickier than it sounds. It's not just about betting on those with the largest number of followers; there must be alternatives in case the budget cannot stretch too much.
Here, we share our smart guide to making friends and influencing people:
A union made in heaven
The wrong or mismatched influencer marketing is always remembered for all the wrong reasons and can have an adverse effect on both the brand and its spokespersons. Make sure the influencers you work with have a core message that fully matches your brand, otherwise the latter won't resonate with the followers you hope to reach and convert.
A success story in Latin America is Gabriela Sales, whose “Ricademarre” Instagram account garnered 3.4 million followers thanks to her irreverent and relatable vision of daily life in Brazil. Your followers pay attention when you promote the latest eyeliner product or new fashion trends in your sponsored posts and stories, but tune out when you're promoting energy drinks or sportswear. She is clearly not a fitness icon and often pokes fun at her own inability to stick to a regular exercise schedule, making her endearing to her fans, but a poor alternative for brands despite this. represented by these industries.
The statistics attack
As we've seen, follower count is not the most relevant or profitable metric for identifying potential alliances with influencers. A high engagement rate is more helpful for brands as it shows that followers are constantly responding to content.
You can estimate engagement rates by adding all the likes, comments, and other interactions on a post or channel, dividing by the number of followers, and multiplying by 100. Online tools allow you to thoroughly research influencers, your reach, demographics, the quality of your comments, past associations, and experience with sponsored content. In particular, know your goals and let them dictate your influencing strategy: are you trying to reach a broad audience or a niche? Is your main objective to promote your brand or generate conversions? Keeping these questions at the forefront of your mind should help narrow down your options and focus on the ones that will actually work for you.
Tight control is paramount in influencer marketing
It is essential that you screen your influencer candidates beforehand, checking past controversies and even lawsuits to determine their suitability as spokespersons and, especially, to avoid problems in the future.
A recent example of negative influence on a national scale involved Gabriela Pugliesi, a Brazilian Instagram star who fell from grace in spectacular fashion after posting photos of a party during lockdown in São Paulo. The fitness icon lost 150,000 followers the next day, as well as a slew of sponsors, including home delivery app Rappi and Hope lingerie. Another case is that of American fashion blogger Arielle Charnas, who drew similar criticism in March when she traveled to the Hamptons shortly after testing positive for COVID-19. As a result, she lost an endorsement deal with Nordstrom.
Of course, there are also examples of these types of incidents before the coronavirus pandemic. YouTube comedian Julio Cocielo generated great controversy during the 2018 World Cup for his alleged racist statements about French footballer Kylian Mbappé, which led not only to the cancellation of contracts with Coca Cola and Itaú, but also to a lawsuit of 7 million reais presented by the State of São Paulo for causing “collective social damage”. These controversies are difficult to predict and often disappear once the public continues, but tight scrutiny remains an essential step toward any potential public relations partnership. It's just common sense!
Think with your feet on the ground
While careful analysis and background research is important, sometimes an opportunity to work with the perfect influencer for a certain time and place will unexpectedly fall at your feet and the opportunity should be seized while it can.
In influencer marketing, creativity and opportunism can go a long way, and can turn low-profile characters into the most sought-after stars overnight. An example is the actor of the comedy series “Everybody Hates Chris”, Tyler James Williams, whose social media pages were inundated by Brazilian fans and trolls when the Record TV channel began airing his show in 2016. The actor initially threatened to threaten blocking those who messed with him in a negative way, but in an unexpected change, he ended up working with McDonalds Brasil for a nationwide ad campaign that addressed his unlikely star status.
Sometimes it pays to work with people who don't even identify as influential. The Latin American edition of Marie Claire has just published an issue focused on “the real influencers” in the COVID-19 pandemic: women working on the front lines to combat the pandemic. The cover, featuring a healthcare worker whose face is marked by protective gear, is already being hailed as one of the magazine's most iconic images.
There are no easy answers or quick fixes when it comes to influencer marketing. A hefty budget will ensure that your brand is seen by a large number of followers on social media, but it will all be for naught if that audience doesn't respond to your product or service, or regularly engages with the influencer promoting it.
In influencer marketing it is key to prioritize quality over quantity. Look for influencers who have a real and measurable influence on their followers, and whose personal brand, tone and messages synergistically fit with yours. As with any other public relations campaign, be diligent, thorough, and keep an eye out for unique opportunities that can lead to authentic, creative, and fruitful partnerships. By following these steps, you will soon discover that influencers can be instrumental in promoting your brand to audiences that really matter.