The dangers of influencer marketing are well documented, recently to the point that we feel the need to jump to the defense of working with influencers as part of your marketing strategy.
There are horror stories – work not being delivered, zero ROI, and disgruntled brands and business owners all keen to share their woes.
As a marketing, PR and digital agency, we know that a solid influencer ‘strategy’ as part of your visibility plans can deliver the results the client is looking for and that it is possible to have great working relationships between both content creators and brands across the region.
Are we just ‘lucky’? No.
Is it only because they are paid that they deliver? Also no.
The key to any working relationship is boundaries, and quite often these are not set out properly between entities and expectations are therefore not met between the influencers and the business. It’s not the case that every influencer expects or has to be paid for a collaboration, and important to note that those who do, should be fully licensed as per UAE law.
As an agency, we usually build client/influencer relations softly. Identifying who might be a good fit for the brand and business objectives comes first, and a solid understanding of the influencer’s lifestyle phase, apparent likes, hobbies, family and more. By knowing ‘who’ they are, we start to build an authentic profile of who fits where into a client’s strategy. Then, we’ll introduce our ‘gifting’ strategy. This is not via payment to content creators but introduces the products or services to the influencer on the basis that we’ve made a great, relevant fit.
“Why should I listen to someone who promotes things for money?”
Not all influencers are paid and not all influencers demand it. The fact is paying licensed influencers for content coverage is based on an ROI that certainly, our agency will have spent a significant amount of time cultivating and measuring. ROI is vital in any transaction and going in blind waving a cheque book is naive at best and throwing money away at worst.
Just like an agency model, thoughtful, creative work that generates visibility and leads to conversions is work that should be paid for.
Does this make it any less authentic?
Not at all – think about this in the vein of traditional advertising – creatives are paid, models and stylists are paid and good advertising converts into sales.
When we match a brand to an influencer, it’s done so with care and experience. There is no throwing caution to the wind and hoping for the best without boundaries, expectations and T&C’s – even with gifting. We monitor an influencer’s output and coverage, shares, comments and the like to build a picture of who is truly influential, and ideally convert to sales on behalf of the client.
The next stage is to consider paying for content, but this is on the basis of the influencer having‘proven’ their worth. Nobody wants to play hard and fast with money when it’s unnecessary, and solid content creators who resonate with consumers deserve to be paid for their work – and yes, they are out there!
Consumers want to be ‘entertained’ and influenced by people they trust. Brands need to focus on fostering the communities of people who genuinely love their products. These communities are led by influential people. When we reframe who we consider to be influencers, understand who they speak to, and align them with our own products and values, great things happen. The authenticity lies way beyond the issue of whether they are paid or not for their work.