Getting One of the Basics of Influencer Marketing Right

The reason that some forward-thinking brands are focusing their marketing energy and budgets on influencers is that these people have something that brands want – an audience. But not just that; their independence brings credibility that the brands’ potential customers really value.

In return for creating content that creates brand awareness or promotes a product or event, influencers seek value that the businesses and organisations they work with can provide – products that can be used, events that can be entered, experiences that can be reported on and (in some cases) financial contributions.

This is potentially a match made in heaven. But there are potential pitfalls to watch out for.

One mistake in influencer marketing is not asking for what you want.

Why Asking for What You Want is Important

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
― George Bernard Shaw

Last year Freestak published the first edition of the Freestak Pulse report. This was a report based on interviews with brand marketers and influencers. One of the questions we asked influencers was about their frustrations with working with brands. Many of them said that a lack of clear brief or expectation from the client was a big challenge.

Sometimes I wish people were less polite and willing to be more explicit: ‘our deal is x in return for y, by date z’…

Better communication, clear guidelines of what is expected in return for what I would get and vice versa

There might be a few reasons for the lack of guidance from the brands, for example;

  • Marketers think it’s not appropriate to give influencers guidance – instead they should be left completely to their own devices
  • The person responsible for influencers doesn’t actually know what they want or what is reasonable to ask for
  • The brand thinks that they have asked for what they want. But either they have not been explicit enough or the influencer has missed something

Whatever the reason, if an influencer doesn’t know what the brand they are working with wants, they can’t be expected to deliver it. Often the end result is frustration for everyone involved.

Of course you might find that by asking for what you want, you get knocked-back. Good influencers will be picky about who they work with. But it is better to set out the ground rules clearly than end up dissatisfied later on.

What You Should Be Doing

Having established that good influencers want to know what a brand wants, here are a handful of tips for how to ask for what you want;

  • Pick the right influencers in the first place: By taking the time to find the right people you short-circuit the need to come up with long-winded requirements – they will be much more in-tune with your brand from the start.
  • Provide examples of campaigns that you really like: if there are influencer campaigns that you have seen (whether they are from other endurance sports or outdoors brands or from other sectors) that you like, then share them with the influencers you want to work with and explain which aspects of the campaigns you like.
  • Provide clear timescales: If you don’t give a clear idea of when you want activity to happen, then you can’t be surprised if content takes much longer to reach your target audiences than you thought it would.
  • Offer appropriate rewards and incentives: When it comes to putting your request together, remember that the more you ask for, the more you are likely to have to offer. And, of course, the more you will get in return.
  • Provide support: Once you have agreed on what the influencers will be creating for you, stay in touch and offer support. It is often the case that a quick note or a company update can spur an influencer on to create something new for their audience.

What you should avoid

  • Agree requirements with influencers before you start working together: Not explaining your requirements before you start working together is a mistake. It is only by setting out the expectations clearly that everyone can evaluate if they are happy to work together.
  • Once you have an agreement in place, let the influencers work their magic: You should have picked influencers because you like what they do, you believe they understand your brand and you trust them. Now everyone knows what the expectations are, let them got on with it. And remember –  if you control the content then it becomes an advertisement. This diminishes its value.
  • Change what you want during a campaign: Mission creep or worse, a completely different set expectation that was not set out in the first place can be disastrous for a campaign.

In conclusion

Our research shows over and over again, that by picking the right influencers, creating an appropriate incentive and then giving the influencers some guidance, you will have the foundations in place for a really exciting and effective campaign.

If you have any questions or comments about this – or indeed any other aspect of influencer marketing in cycling, running and the outdoors – please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.


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