Trust is a key element in the success of authentic influencer marketing partnerships. After all, that’s why it works.
Consumers today are wary of overly “salesy” pitches. They’d much rather hear from a peer or someone they admire, which is why authentic influencers are so popular.
Authentic and relatable influencers are generally accessible to all brands. With over half a million influencers on Instagram alone, it’s easy for brands to recruit a partner for their products or services. However, the rules for getting the most out of your influencer partnership are different from traditional endorsements.
By following these 5 guidelines, you’ll be able to master influencer marketing. You’ll be able to build authenticity and credibility through your partnerships… which means you’ll see stronger ROI and increased brand affinity.
5 Rules for High-performing Influencer Marketing Partnerships
Rule #1: Choose Authentic Influencers (Not Just Ones with Big Numbers)
When thinking about influencers, it’s important to recognize you don’t have to go after celebrities or names you hear in the news. There’s a vast array of influencer types to consider. For example, nano influencers, which are people who have fewer than 10,000 followers on Instagram.
Just because an influencer doesn’t have millions of followers (yet) doesn’t mean they aren’t right for your business. What’s important to keep in mind is relevance… as in, recruiting influencers who have the right expertise, affinity, and interests that make sense for your brand. In many cases, nano or micro influencers (those who have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers) actually have higher conversion rates than big name celebrities or other macro influencers.
Most people on social media view influencers as friends. Influencers show up in the same feed as their best friends and talk the way friends do. And friends don’t do hard sells. They offer authentic solutions to problems or desires in an aspirational way.
While many brands still choose to go the celebrity endorsement route, for many companies this option either isn’t fiscally available to them or it doesn’t align with their brand. Furthermore, authentic influencers lend credibility to a brand – as consumers feel they’re more likely to be a real user of the product or service versus a paid big-name star.
Rule #2: Avoid the Sales Pitch
Authentic influencer marketing works because it typically doesn’t feel forced. The ideal experience is that the influencer actually loves and uses the product they’re promoting… and that comes across to their followers.
When looking for these kinds of influencers for your brand, avoid the ones who take a salesy approach in their content creation. This can actually work against your brand – and taint the reputation of the influencers and the brand
Remember in the ‘90s when moviegoers started catching on to product placements in films? Social media users today are even more savvy. They can smell a sales pitch a mile away… and it turns them off. This reeks of inauthenticity, which is something today’s social media consumers find unacceptable.
Instead, look for influencers who are genuinely fans of your industry and/or brand. This will make the content the influencers create more authentic – and make your brand look more credible. This is a hot topic in marketing. In fact, Forbes covers this specific issue in depth in their article: Credibility and Trust Are Key to Authentic Influencer Marketing.
Rule #3: Align with Integrity
This one is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often brands partner with influencers for the wrong reasons.
While most authentic influencers are community-centric, meaning they cultivate partnerships based upon their personal values and what their community is interested in, some are just in it for the money.
Want an example?
Two words: Fyre Festival.
If you haven’t seen the documentaries on Netflix and Hulu, Fyre Festival was a 2017 music festival that positioned itself as a luxury getaway with top musical artists and gorgeous supermodels. The festival co-founder spent millions on influencer marketing, hiring over 400 top influencers, including Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Hailey Bieber. The event promised to “connect consumers, celebrities, and brands through live experiences.”
In reality, the event was an unmitigated disaster. Festival-goers arrived at a half-deserted island with no infrastructure and no food… and of course, no festival.
While this is an extreme example, it’s vitally important to recruit influencers who align with your brand’s mission, values, and principles. This is key to building trust and credibility in your influencer marketing.
Rule #4: Give Creators Freedom
Another key to building credibility and authenticity in successful brand-influencer partnerships is to give the creators freedom.
The influencer you’re working with should understand the “why” behind your brand, the product’s benefits, and the pain points of their followers to ensure the offer is a good fit. But beyond that, they also need to be involved in developing the content for their community.
If you overly direct the content, everything coming from the influencer about your brand or product will sound scripted and forced. From Live Reels to static posts, a viewer won’t get the sense that the influencer understands the product, let alone really uses it themselves. When you tighten the reins on creativity, you create a chokehold for the influencer… which will trickle through to the consumers you wish to engage.
Instead, view influencer marketing as something completely different from what you’re used to doing. This is not a commercial you are directing. It’s a collaboration with a creator who knows their audience – and what resonates with them. Give your influencers creative license to create content their own way. Your job is to ensure the content doesn’t violate any core values or spread misinformation – but that’s about it.
Rule #5: Build Relationships
One of the best approaches is to develop a relationship with an influencer and create a feedback loop to review content before it deploys. When you view influencer marketing as a collaboration rather than a vendor/client relationship, you’ll get more out of the content creator… and see better results from your partnership long term. Creatable has the best platform for authentic influencer marketing today. Not only can you recruit and hire influencers directly through the platform, your influencers natively create content in the backend – then flag you to review it prior to publication. You can choose whether or not you wish to sign off on content before it goes live. This flexibility lets you spend less time managing processes and more time producing results.
Best of all, Creatable natively integrates with your e-commerce backend. You’ll see first-party metrics from your influencer campaigns in real time… because content is pushed out from Creatable to social channels instead of social channels pushing in to your website, which often creates holes in data.
Brands that partner with Creatable report up to 3 times higher conversions. Our simple-to-use platform streamlines your operations (and saves you time and headache) by managing influencer contracts and payouts too. To find out more about how Creatable can save you time and create more profitable, authentic influencer partnerships, schedule a demo with us here. We’ll show you exactly how this will work for your company.