Part four of a seven-part series
We’re all guilty of it—we see our favorite celebrity carrying a product around, and then soon enough, that thing has made its way into our shopping cart. How’d a bottle of Sauza 901 Tequila end up in my house? My fiance saw a commercial with their brand spokesperson Justin Timberlake touting how great it is. And now we own a bottle.
Celebrity endorsements have been happening for decades—because they work.
Today, social media influencers have crossed over to become brand spokespeople.
However, social media influencers continue to be viewed in the business world as an informal marketing mechanism. They should be treated as a brand spokesperson—a brand’s secret weapon. Each of those relationships should be executed as a business partnership.
Simply viewing them as a brand spokesperson elevates their importance to a brand almost immediately, which goes hand-in-hand with a higher attention to partnership details. Taking the time to meticulously vet a relationship can save a lot of time, money and greater ROI down the road.
There have been numerous influencers who have found themselves in hot water after making controversial statements. In turn, their sponsored brands find themselves in a PR trap as they tried to distance themselves.
For this reason, it is worth the time to do your research.
Here are a few things you should consider about an influencer before bringing them on as a brand spokesperson (more about the specifics to your partnership/what they’ll do for your brand will be featured in a future article):
Do they have a blog and what social media platforms do they post on?
Some influencers focus on one platform while others do a full digital blitz. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube; they’re into it all. Then there are some who go a la carte. It’s important to know where your influencer stands. Why? So you can monitor their content and identify opportunities for your business on their platforms.
How often do they post on their platforms?
Let’s say you find an influencer who’s a great fit for your brand. They take great photos, write perfect content. One thing—they either rarely or constantly post. Between algorithm changes and the massive amount of content online, their posts could get lost in the noise or buried under their own content. Visibility is key.
What do they typically post about? Does it have a focus or is it scattered? Do they maintain the same voice and tone on all their posts on all platforms? Does that voice align with your brand?
While vetting an influencer, you are bound to become well versed in their personal brand. Familiarity with your influencer will give you an understanding of what they’re all about and a feel for their content. It will also identify any red flags that may appear on one platform but not the other. Highly visible brands have missed this crucial stage in working with influencers–to their detriment. Walmart and Dunkin Donuts both found themselves in a pickle after their partnering influencer Logan Paul posted controversial videos. Had they combed through his previous content, they could have seen the signs and avoided PR disasters.
Would you be comfortable sharing their stories and photos on your social media platforms? On your website?
While vetting an influencer, it’s crucial to get a feel for the quality of their written and visual work. Remember, they will be creating content about your brand. The quality of their photos and stories should, in theory, apply to your partnered posts. It may hurt your brand more than help if an influencer publishes poor quality posts. Working with a strong influencer will help boost your brand’s presence and increase sales. It’s also a great gesture to your partner to share their paid and non-paid posts. Doing so will give them exposure to your fans, thus enhancing your relationship. Ambassadors and spokespeople are brand extensions. Therefore, it should be a seamless transition for your customers to click on your shared post and feel comfortable viewing the influencer’s profiles and vice versa.
Followers and their engagements
How many followers do they have? Do they engage with posts? What kind of engagement is it? If there is sponsored content in their feeds, is it well received by followers?
A sponsored post is worthless if no one sees it. At first glance, some influencers may have thousands upon thousands of followers. Great, right? Not always. There are pay-for-follower services out there and oftentimes, these followers are bots. On the flip side, what could be worse than paying for posts that no one will see? These posts will do little more than piss off an influencer’s fans.
Do they partner with other brands? Are any of those brands your competitors? Does their sponsored content seem authentic or does it seem forced or out of place? Does their feed primarily consist of paid posts?
A lot of questions, but all important. If an influencer works with a competitor, you should probably pivot to someone else. Who’s to say they won’t post a competitor’s item next week? Remember, authenticity is key and followers can detect when posts from their favorite influencers transition into paid territory. At some point, fans have their breaking point in terms of seeing too much sponsored content.
Do your digging, looking for red flags like controversial posts and poor content. Researching upfront will determine if an influencer is a fit as a brand spokesperson while avoiding an inauthentic partnership.