Sponsored Posts and Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has been in the news quite a bit lately. From the FTC cracking down on influencer’s liberal take on noting when something is sponsored, to marketing experts claiming that influencer marketing is dying out. What does that mean for influencer marketing? Even better, what the heck does influencer marketing mean?

michelle phan

Beauty entrepreneur and influencer, Michelle Phan

Influencer marketing is where companies hire influencers in their particular field to promote their product or service. For a long time, that just mean celebrity endorsers. But with the rise of the internet famous (ie. YouTube vloggers, bloggers, Vine stars, Instagram models, etc) the field of influencers has widened considerably.

That sounds cool! I should do that! Wait, should I do that?

Contrary to this article (which appears to have been written to support the author’s dislike of influencer marketing and to make sure everyone knows he is sooooo above influencer marketing) influencer marketing is a very good thing, and can do wonders for a brand. Now, does that mean you should shell out $1M for a Karashian to post an Snapchat video with your product? Probably not. But here’s how to make influencer marketing work for you.

patrick starr

Beauty vlogger, Patrick Starr

Do your research.

There are a lot of “big name” influencers out there these days. I’m going to use the beauty industry because I buy a lot of makeup. Top influencers collaborate with big brands: MannyMua with Makeup Geek, Patrick Starr with Formula X, Graveyard Girl with Tarte…. the list goes on and on. Those are some of the bigger influencers with some of the biggest followings. But there are also a ton of influencers with smaller, but fiercely dedicated followings. Working with someone like that can be an excellent way to ease into an influencer partnership.

kathleen lights

Beauty vlogger and ColourPop collaborator, KathleenLights

Put that ish in writing.

There’s been a lot of hullabaloo lately about digital influencers skirting the FTC’s rules on differentiating between a regular post and a sponsored post. Some say that just adding #spon or #ad to a post is enough, but others say that doesn’t make it super clear. Either way, it’s murky waters and influencers are always going to test the limits to keep it as real as possible with their audiences. So, that means the burden falls on you, the product/service owner. PUT IT IN THE CONTRACT. Give your new partner very clear and specific guidelines. Tell them what wording they have to use to be FTC compliant. And if they don’t? Well, they don’t get paid. Don’t mess around with that stuff. Make it crystal clear and get it in writing.

Jenny claire fox

Nail and beauty vlogger, Jenny Claire Fox

Know your audience and know where they are.

To put it simply, don’t hire a Vine video influencer to rep promote your stuff if your audience is 50+ males. They aren’t hanging out on Vine. Know your audience; know where they are, what they use, and how they connnect. I know all the hip kids are on Snapchat, but if those hip kids aren’t your audience, you are throwing money away. Make sure that the influencers you choose to work with have strong followings on the channels that matter to you.

Know what you are measuring.

Decide ahead of time what you will be measuring to determine the success of your influencer work. Set up a specific landing page/promo code/email list/etc just for that promotion so you can monitor exactly what is happening. If you just go into your agreement with a vague “I want to really make this POP” then you won’t get the results you want and your partner will feel like you wasted their time. No one wins.

Don’t expect lightning to strike right away.

Be ready with a plan B and C and even D! Your first campaign with an influencer might not hit, so be ready to try out a few different images/captions/videos/promos to see what works best. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your influencer isn’t going to make you a viral marketing hit in one post.

Working with influencers can be a great way to build your brand and get in front of new eyes. But keep in mind that it is only one tool in the digital marketer’s toolbox. Don’t expect them to make your product “go viral” and sell a million units. Influencers should not be your whole strategy, but they can be a great piece of your strategy. Use them wisely.