Working with influencers in 2022

Working with influencers in 2022

By An Ngo, Compass’ Senior PR Account Manager.

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Despite a lot of equal parts eye-rolling and cynicism when it comes to influencer marketing within our industry, the world of influencers and content creators has no plans to slow down. With influencer marketing said to be worth USD $13.9 billion in 2021, most marketers now see the effectiveness from both the top of the funnel to increase brand awareness and the bottom of the funnel when working on targeted paid campaigns with trackable discount codes and giveaways.

Consider growing up in the early 2000s; your only access to knowing what clothes and beauty to buy was reading Dolly or Girlfriend (responsible for my questionable dependency on Clearasil and Clean + Clear). Research now shows that 70% of teens trust influencers over celebrities, which means our next generation of consumers lean on the knowledge of trusted influencers over traditional media,  with sometimes small followings but deeply engaged audiences and regular niche content.

We hear from many clients who are understandably hesitant to dip their toes into the unregulated and influencer marketing world, as brilliantly documented by SBS’ The Feed earlier this year, but working with the right and genuine influencers with a strategic and long-term approach can open doors to reach customers and audiences like traditional media never could.

It’s common to hear people remark at influencers in the same vein as conceptual art with the phrase, “I could do that”, which can devalue the work itself and suggest it’s easy to do. To that notion, it’s important to consider that the influencer industry is highly competitive and has evolved well beyond flat-lays and reviews into a full-time and demanding career that involves time, creativity, labour and the potential for public scrutiny. It’s integral to invest time into influencer marketing and approaching creators with a similar hybrid approach of media meets potential suppliers. We’ve listed a handful of the key tips we like to keep top of mind when embarking on an influencer marketing campaign.

Looking for the right influencer

So, first things first, how do you find the right influencers? We like to start by looking for genuine audience and content (likely to have built trust with their followers) combined with influencer engagement. Trusted influencers have democratised having reach and authority across almost every industry. Whilst it often makes sense to be more prescriptive about looking for influencers, food brands looking for home cooks and chefs or fashion brands looking for fashion or lifestyle influencers, it’s also worth looking across adjacent categories that may speak to like-minded audiences: for instance, think travel influencers who could broadly be into slow fashion, eco beauty, camping or cooking. It’s also important to consider the diversity of influencers in your roster, whether that’s gender or race, ensuring you’re spending the time to search for influencers or setting internal KPIs for campaigns so that the influencers you work with reflect your diverse customer base.

Influencer engagement is usually viewed as the number of post engagements (likes, shares, saves and comments) divided by the number of influencer followers. Engagement rates are an indicator of a genuine, connected following and the quality of the content produced. If they’re posting compelling content or interest enough, they should also elicit a follow response, whether it’s a like, share, or comment. You can also spot a fake influencer when the follower count doesn’t match the amount and quality of comments – noticing bot comments with poor grammar or generic responses.

The long game

As with all PR, influencer marketing is all about relationship building over time. Time can be saved with new campaigns during the initial research and outreach phase when you’ve been consistently building a roster of influencers. When working with an influencer, we would suggest steering away from a one-off product send out or paid ad and instead ensuring that retention is built by consistent communication, whether for sample opportunities, events or an exclusive first-look at new product drops. To ensure your influencer database is robust and up-to-date, we’d also suggest making regular and important notes of the little details like: mailing address, favourite brands or products, birthdays, type of skin, sizing and personal value.

Gifting vs paid

Once you’ve found the influencers you’d like to work with, the relationship generally falls into one of two boxes: gifted or paid work. Gifts are the most common approach from brands, but it’s important to note your brand’s expectations around gifts. For many established influencers with larger followings, gifting often doesn’t guarantee social posts, in the same way sending a press kit to an editor doesn’t guarantee media coverage.

If your expectation of deliverables includes a volume of guaranteed content and posts, it’s important to set aside paid budget or contra (dependent on what the influencer is happy with). If you choose to work on a paid basis, remember to be specific about your expected deliverables, budget, and deadlines. It’s also important that your brief shares key messaging or big brand no-no’s whilst allowing creative freedom and flexibility of how that message is shared so that it doesn’t dilute an influencer’s authenticity.

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