In an online world, we’re more connected than ever but for organisations, raising brand awareness has never been more complicated. Whether it’s the latest and greatest platform, the newest algorithm update, or the trend of the week, the social media landscape is rapidly changing. Many organisations are turning to influencers to compete for attention, but is this a good move?
Using public figures to gain greater brand recognition isn’t a new practice — celebrity endorsements from Gary Lineker and Walkers to Spice Girls and Channel 5 – are known across the globe — but the digital world has introduced us to a new type of public figure: the influencer. Since as early as 2010, we’ve seen the rise of influencers, evolving from YouTube creators to Instagram stars. The power of the influencer is undeniable, but collaborating with an influencer is not a ‘one size fits all’ process and there are few things to consider before you take the plunge:
Why influencers are in
- Increasing your reach — It’s not enough to have one social media platform. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok all accommodate for different demographics. A majority of influencers don’t just have one platform, either. By collaborating with an influencer, you are increasing your reach to platforms that your organisation may have less of a presence on. Building a social media account from scratch can prove difficult but collaborating with an influencer can help you get a foot in the door to your harder to reach platforms.
- Benefitting from fandom — Ever heard the phrase, “when you marry someone, you also marry their family”? The same applies to working with influencers. By collaborating with influencers, you are gaining access to their community or ‘fandom’. This can be a powerful resource depending on the influencer. Influencers with strong fandoms will have high engagement and high credibility.
- Maintaining your brand identity — What better way to reinforce your identity than to collaborate with an influencer who aligns with it? This year, eBay partnered with Love Island and since the end of the season, they’ve announced their partnership with contestant Tasha Ghouri. After being praised all season for her fashion, all provided by eBay, Ghouri was a great choice for the brand. What’s more, eBay has gained positive press for themselves and Love Island by bringing sustainable second-hand clothing to a show famous for its fast fashion looks.
Why influencers are out
- False engagement — Big influencers with high follower counts (macro-influencers) can be appealing but don’t be fooled – it’s the engagement rate you are interested in. Likewise, don’t scoff at those whose numbers are only in the thousands (micro-influencers). Influencers with millions of followers are worth nothing to your brand if the number of likes and comments don’t reflect that. Smaller influencers with high engagement are also likely to have a stronger fandom.
- Lack of professionalism — Influencers, especially micro-influencers, are self-made, but unlike traditional celebrities and well-established influencers, micro-influencers may not have an agency or management. Many influencers will conduct their business over email or through Instagram. Ensure you draw up a contract clearly stating what is expected of the influencer and from the partnership.
- Risking your brand image — You’ve finally selected the perfect influencer, someone whose content reflects the personality you want to convey, but do they really align with your identity? If you’re an eco-friendly brand looking to do a collaboration, your chosen influencer shouldn’t be someone who’s been photographed wearing fast-fashion or is regularly seen using single-use plastic. Collaborating with someone who falls short of your ideal persona can reflect badly on you and damage your overall image.
What’s the verdict?
Influencers can be great for brands, especially smaller ones, that are looking to break into the digital mainstream, but who you choose to collaborate with should not be chosen based on big numbers and big names. Going down this route could prove a huge waste of money and detrimental to your reputation in the long-term. Influencer collaboration should be a careful and purposeful process. If in doubt, ask someone who knows what they’re talking about (us!)