Daniel Shale, Author at MG Empower

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Today’s brandscape is obsessed with influencers. From generating conversions and connections to creating cultural credibility in ever narrower niches, the value they represent to brands and businesses just keeps growing.

The problem is, not everyone knows how to build effective, long-lasting and meaningful relationships. This means not everyone can unlock the full potential – AKA Return On Investment – of an influencer marketing campaign.

To get some answers, let’s throw it back to season 2 of Influencer Marketing Uncovered (our podcast) when we had an inspiring conversation with the founder of ACP Management, Alice Hampton.

A conversation we can’t stop thinking about

Prior to founding a celebrity talent agency, Alice spent twenty years helping global brands build groundbreaking strategies. As she puts it, “I used to bring the talents to the brands. Now I bring the brands to the talents.” So she understands influencer marketing from all angles and perspectives.

What emerged from our conversation were three golden rules for making the most of influencers:

  • Respect. Influencers are marketing powerhouses – they are their own media channel – so giving them creative freedom and the time to truly get to know your brand or product is just a smart strategy.
  • Reward. The creator economy is booming – you know it, we know it, and influencers know it. So pay influencers fairly, be transparent with contracts and, when they perform well, keep working with them…
  • Re-engage. The basic tenet of effective influencer marketing is that one-off content can only go so far. Real value is only unlocked by repeated engagements.

Now, you’re just a few scrolls away from becoming an influencer marketing guru. Let’s unpack this. 

Rule one: Show respect

We could talk for days about why influencer marketing works so well, but Alice summed it up perfectly here:

“Not only are [brands] signing a talent, this person who personifies your brand, but they are also starring in, directing and producing all this content. The other crucial thing to remember is that influencers bring a very engaged and sticky audience. They are their own media channel.” – Alice Hampton

What does all this mean for brands?

First, let the creator create the content. It sounds mind-numbingly obvious, but all too often we see pages and pages of guidelines, scripts, and general over-prescriptiveness. Their followers know what’s real and what’s not – so keep briefs open to the individual’s creative interpretation. In other words, trust the influencer!

Second, give influencers the right amount of time to get to know your brand/product. A two-day turnaround simply isn’t enough time for a creator to understand what they’re selling. Again, their followers know when they don’t believe in something. So don’t rush it. Authenticity comes from genuine connections with your brand, which simply can’t be formed overnight.

Rule 2: Reward appropriately

As influencers become more and more valuable to businesses, their price points shift. Naturally. The fees we paid ten years ago pale in comparison to what’s expected today. But it’s more nuanced than that – the contracts themselves need to be air-tight.

There’s no question about it: what influencers do is work. They are essentially freelancers so they deal with the same issues that every freelancer does – low pay, confusing briefs and contracts riddled with fine print.

Alice was absolutely adamant about this point: “Anything that is not just a flat rate, or a pay-per-post, needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. This includes image rights, fine print, and so on.”

Rule 3: Re-engage regularly

This is where real, long-term value is unlocked.

Let’s start with Alice’s insight: “Long-term is much better than on/off. 100%. It’s helicopter marketing – you have to hear or see an ad seven times before it sinks in, that’s just psychology/marketing 101.”

One-and-done influencer content may get you a few hits, but the real rewards are reaped when an influencer has worked with a brand on a regular basis. It’s about building that familiarity and trust. Or as Raphael, our US Managing Director, put it, “Long-term relationships are authenticity to me.”

The more time you spend on creating and fostering meaningful relationships with influencers, the more their followers will associate that influencer with your brand. It’s like the Netflix sound – you don’t even need to see their logo to know exactly what that ‘badum’ jingle means.

Influencer marketing works exactly the same way and is arguably more effective because there is a whole human being – with values, a story, and a highly engaged audience – behind their content. Not just a pretty face!

When you get it right, as Tesco has with foodie influencer Lillie Farrow, any content featuring your regular influencer will make people instantly think of your brand; it doesn’t even need to be an #ad.

In conclusion

As illustrated by Alice, success in collaborating with influencers is all about respect, reward, and re-engaging in the long-term. With the correct approach, influencer marketing can be an incredibly valuable asset to any business.

On Influencer Marketing Uncovered, we regularly have conversations as eye-opening and impactful as this one. Get listening to keep up here.

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