Social Influencers Share Their Golden Rules Of Engagement
Advice for marketers addresses a variety of topics, including boundaries for content and creative control, nurturing the relationship, and compensation preferences.
As more consumers grow ad-blind and impervious to other forms of digital marketing, marketers are seeking new, viable ways to connect. Influencer marketing promises to be the hero by helping brands reach their audiences through social influencers who have built a loyal and engaged following through blogs, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and other channels.
Influencers are experts who create content that people love, and they can help brands amplify their reach, build trust, target niche markets, and create authentic connections. However, because this practice is still new, many marketers and their teams are unsure of how to best approach and work with them.
So we asked a few of the most active influencers on our platform for their dos and don’ts. Our questions hit on a variety of topics, including approaching engagement, boundaries for content and creative control, nurturing the relationship, and compensation preferences.
** • Do reply to a pitch email. It isn’t a mass email. I took the time to research your brand to see if it was a good fit for my site. If you don’t have the budget, that’s OK, but do respond to let me know.
• Do feel free to negotiate. We hate to miss out on a potentially amazing opportunity just because our price was a little off the mark. We are also happy to remove a social share (or add them) to better fit your budget.
• Do say thank you. I know, the blogger pitched you. But it took nerve to send that pitch email, and it means that the blogger really loves your brand. Every time a blogger sends a pitch, it was sent with the best of intent and a lot of nerves. We hate rejection, but we do understand that not every match works. But a kind word of encouragement is always appreciated.
** • Do consider the little guy. They will respect the campaign more, tend to overdeliver, and become invested early.
• Do talk to the influencers and get a feel for their style and presence.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for a draft. This is work you are paying for.
** • When choosing an influencer to work with, do your research. Every blogger has their own style of photography and writing. Be sure to visit their website and get a feel for who they are, how they “speak,” and take a peek at their photos.
• Do not ask a blogger to be a part of your campaign and then try to change who they are and how they speak. Do trust that the blogger knows their readers. When the influencer can reach their audience in their own voice, everybody wins.
Content And Creative Control
** • Don’t nitpick posts. Yes, sometimes we use bad grammar. Sometimes the coding makes spacing wonky. Our readers read our blogs because of our quirks. It’s what makes us unique and why we connect so well with them. Feel free to tell us when we’ve misrepresented your product, but, otherwise, leave the post alone.
• Don’t be afraid to educate us. It helps us do our jobs even better. I recently told a PR person that a requested portion of the campaign would drastically reduce reach on social media. They educated me a little on campaign benchmarks and why they were fine losing reach.
** • Do collaborate with the writers; let their creativity help develop a unique story.
• Be open to new ideas and way to present your product/services. Writers know their readers best.
• Don’t ask the influencer to lie about their experience.
• Don’t repeat a campaign that another company/agency already did.
• Don’t turn a draft into a whitepaper or sales pitch.
** • Once you’ve chosen your influencer, do give them clear guidelines regarding key messaging and legal requirements. Do not expect them to use those verbatim, but allow them to add the key messaging in their own voice. Each blogger is different. (As you’ve done your research, you know how this blogger “speaks.”)
• By allowing the influencer to be creative and speak their own voice, you not only have the blogger’s trust and respect, but now their readers believe and trust that sponsored content. If you force an influencer to use too much key messaging, trademarks, and other legal speak (outside of the normal boundary), then their readers are going to think that the influencer was “bought” and their blog post is just a commercial. Keep those readers loyal to you and your brand (and the influencer) by creating a happy workspace.
• Do not critique their blog posts for the style of writing. You’ve chosen this influencer for a reason, so let them be themselves, and the love of your brand will come through.
** • Don’t change requirements mid- or post-campaign. Changing the requirements is changing our agreement and puts us in a sticky situation, especially if the post and social shares are already live.
• Don’t expect us to be available at all times. Most bloggers have set work hours. Yes, we almost always have our email accessible, but we put boundaries up to keep a healthy work/life balance.
** • Don’t expect a week turnaround. Most influencers have an editorial calendar scheduled weeks out.
** • In creating a campaign, do give influencers plenty of lead time. Quick turnarounds can be very difficult, especially if you require pre-edits. When you’ve settled on dates for pre-edits and publication, stick to them. A delay in publication can wreak havoc on a blogger’s calendar, so be respectful in getting everything approved in a timely manner.
• If you’re requiring specific packaging to be photographed, do send the product with plenty of lead-time.
** • Do offer direct deposit. PayPal is nice, but it’s even nicer to have money directly put in my bank account.
• Do make your first offer your best offer. Really look at the work you’d like done, and make sure you are compensating for all of it.
• Don’t ask for exclusivity without fair compensation. I watch out for any apparent conflicts of interest on my own. I am concerned about what my readers think if I love Brand X today and Brand Y tomorrow.
• Do provide bonuses for going above and beyond. Offer an affiliate program or even extra pay for meeting goals, like clicks on a link.
** • Don’t expect to pay a fee less than the value of your product and also ask for the influencer to buy said product.
** • Do send influencers product in the mail (or free product coupons), in addition to their compensation.