A quick guide to working with influencers
You may have been hearing the term ‘influencers’ ad nauseum as of late, and wondering if maybe you should be paying attention to what all the fuss is about.
Let’s start with the basics: an influencer is defined—by the most recent social media standards— as a person who has established themselves as a credible authority in a specific industry. Influencers typically have a sizable number of followers, either in a broad category or a narrow niche. (The number of followers depends on the category or niche.) They actively engage with their followers on social media platforms like Instagram—and they have both the credibility and the “cool” factor to convince people to buy a product, embrace a trend, etc.
Influencers come in all types, from celebrities who have millions of followers and charge $500,000 a post to “micro-influencers,” who generally have fewer than 10,000 followers. Although their reach might be smaller, micro-influencers’ followers are often more devoted, viewing them as trustworthy experts and paying close attention to their word-of-mouth recommendations.
Working with influencers is an increasingly popular—and often effective—way to market your brand. For example, let’s say you’re a jewelry retailer in a town where there is a well-liked local culture blogger. This content creator is not known the world over but has found considerable local fame through commentary on what’s what in your area, from the latest restaurants to the best Labor Day sales at local boutiques. Developing a working relationship with such a prominent figure might really benefit you because the influencer could help you promote events at your store.
Or perhaps you’re a jewelry designer eager to get your creations into the public eye. Having a beloved fashion or jewelry blogger wear your earrings would really help to get your name out there.
Don’t fret if you don’t have any Instagram celebrities’ phone numbers in your back pocket. Getting the attention of an influencer—then enjoying the subsequent exposure—works the same way for every business model. Here are a few strategies you can use.
No matter your business model, grabbing the attention—and subsequent exposure—of an influencer is a similar process. Here are a few ways you can go about it.
• Choose the right influencers. Find out what kinds of content they post to make sure they’re a good fit for your product or store. Do they have a casual following or an active, engaged following?
• Establish a connection. Follow them on social media. Share their posts. Leave them positive comments.
• Send them your product. If you’re a retailer, send a store gift certificate. Include a personalized note introducing them to your store or brand and telling them why you think they’ll like it. Be aware that having an influencer accept a gift doesn’t guarantee coverage for you and that some will expect or demand to be paid for promotional posts in addition to or in place of gifts. Communication is key. Ask what they’ll expect in return should they promote your products or business.
• Opt for a sponsored post. This is a more direct way of doing business where you pay the influencer to post about your product or store. Reach out and explain why you think they’re a good fit to represent you. If you’re going for flattery, explain why your business is a good fit for their content. Ask them to write a blog post—or to post an Instagram photo or series of photos—about you. Some content creators will detail their fees. Another option is to propose what you’re willing to pay them for a post.
• Get the details in writing. When drawing up your agreement, include details like image rights and who can share images. For example, if a blogger takes great pictures to include in a post, spell out whether you can use them for marketing purposes. Get a complete list of fees. Will you pay the influencer per post or a flat fee for their work? If you have a lawyer at your disposal, it’s wise to have them look over any agreements in advance.
It’s also important that both teams play by the rules. According to the FTC, any sponsored post must be deemed as such, so be sure to promote transparency to the influencers you work with. For complete guidelines on what the FTC requires, check them out here.
Here’s to fruitful partnerships and success!