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Is it time to say goodbye to the influencer craze?

Digital

Is it time to say goodbye to the influencer craze?

Is it time to say goodbye to the influencer craze?

It’s funny – or not – how social media clout can open up new business opportunities and revenue streams. At a time when the number of followers and fans are a currency on their own, it’s no surprise that influencer-marketing companies have popped up, with brands continuing to jump into this space.

Some have got bitten – remember the du/Etisalat debacle? – while others have used influencers successfully. There are even agencies that have come up – such as influencers.ae, which is basically an online marketplace. The whole point of influencers – as naïve as it sounds – is influence.

If brands corrupt that influence – by just running behind numbers, dictating terms or in any other way affecting what made that influencer one in the first place – it’s quite redundant.

We got in touch with four experts on the subject to hear what they have to say.

Fadi Sibai, influencer and celebrity consultant, Hot Ice Communications

 

 Getting it right

  • Association between a brand and an influencer’s lifestyle and portfolio
  • Integration of the brand or product within the daily activities of an influencer in such a way that it brings to light the value added by the brand
  • Education of influencers about the latest social media trends
  • Maximization of brand exposure through a journey across social media platforms
  • Investment in social media analytics tools to measure performance, optimize posting strategies and benchmark against competitors

What to avoid

  • Making it look like a traditional advertising campaign
  • Short-term brand associations that affect the influencer’s credibility
  • Turning your profile into an ad catalogue: people follow influencers for the interest in their lifestyle
  • Charging per post: charge per association
  • Overdoing it

Let’s talk money

I don’t like the fact that we talk about influencer marketing with a rate card. There shouldn’t be one, as the rates roughly range from $500 to $5,000 for a combined social media post (including Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and blogs) and there are also cases where the rate is per project rather than per post.

So, influencer marketing plans should be priced on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the influencer’s social media clout, the brand category, the complexity of the target audience, the level of activation carried out across different social media platforms and the tenure of the partnership.

Akanksha Goel, director, Socialize

 

Getting it right

  • Look beyond the numbers. Many up-and-coming influencers have higher engagement, simply because they are closer to their followers
  • Look for influencers who already use your product. If you use an influencer to endorse a product that they don’t genuinely like, then, not only will the association not work, but there will also be backlash. The target audience might associate your brand with the influencer ‘selling out’
  • Look for influencers who influence your core target audience. Understand who are the people following this particular influencer and whether they would actually use your product. Influencers have filtered your audience for you. Take advantage of that
  • Identify what makes their content unique. There are several subcategories of a particular type of influencer – for instance, you have food critics, creators, nutritionists and so on, so it’s key to understand the personality and USP of the influencer
  • Allow the influencer to post in their style. People like their influencers because they’re authentic and followers can smell a blatant plug from a mile away
  • Communicate your needs well. Share campaign expectations and deadlines with the influencer. However, if you’re not paying them, it’s an implicit rule within the blogosphere that the influencer has the right to choose to post about it or not

What to avoid

  • Solely sticking with the long-term ambassador route. If all of your influencer marketing revolves only around brand ambassadors, it might seem like people need to be on the payroll to appreciate or endorse the product. Create a variety of long-term brand ambassadors and one-off campaign posts with different influencers
  • Ending the relationship once the influencer has posted the content. Keep in touch, as many influencers know each other and frequently talk shop; so, take advantage of this grapevine
  • Sending generic emails. Many influencers have turned down collaborations because they could tell that they were one of many contacted for the job
  • Only using the freebie strategy. There are too many factors you can’t control. Lots of brands do this already and it usually only works with influencers who are just starting out, which means their reach is questionable

Let’s talk money

There is a lack of an ‘industry norm’ for what influencers should charge, which makes brands and agencies very nervous about embarking on influencer-marketing campaigns. In fact, the search for new influencers has heated up in part because of the cost of working with those at the top tier. Deals now range from a few hundred dollars for a sponsored post to high five figures for a full-day shoot. Newer influencers will sometimes strike deals for free merchandise or an invitation to an event, but fees are increasingly becoming common.

The benchmarks above are based on studying the published average rates per post across a sample of 104 local influencers featured on FrontRow.ae. The rates are categorized based on the average number of the influencer’s Instagram followers.

Hussein Dajani, chief operating officer, Hug Digital

Getting it right

  • Clearly define the objective of the influencer-marketing campaign
  • Decide the campaign’s target market(s)
  • Identify your core target audience
  • Study the influencers you’re choosing by checking:
  • Has this influencer worked with any of your competitors in the past?
  • Is this influencer active on the social channel(s) where your target audience is and followed by the target audience?
  • Discover new influencers and content creators. You will be surprised how many of them are out there, undiscovered by brands
  • Ensure that a proper deal is locked with the influencers in order for both parties to know the expectations and responsibilities

What to avoid

  • Forcing a creative idea or limiting the influencers. You can discuss and brainstorm ideas with them, but don’t force yours on them. Allow them the freedom to be creative while respecting brand guidelines
  • Using the popular influencers that every brand is after, because (1) people get bored of the same influencers and (2) since they’ve been exploited by many brands, users may not trust them
  • Treating influencers as a commodity
  • Having a purely monetary relationship with them
  • Numbers lie. Don’t choose influencers based on their number of followers or fans

Let’s talk money

Unfortunately, this isn’t regulated (yet) and some agencies and brands have corrupted the market by paying outrageous sums of money to influencers. Influencers need to be paid for their time and effort, but payments should be linked to performance rather than just them being influencers.

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