Marketing under the Influence: How to Pick the Right Influencer for Your Brand
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brand in possession of certain fame, must be in want of more of such fame. And social media is potentially one of the quickest ways to expand your reach. Social media, whatever your opinions are on the merits of their existence, is big. Big enough for the 45th President of the United States to use Twitter and its 280 character limit as his main avenue of communication and big enough for one platform to be suspected of negatively influencing the election of said president. One of the easiest ways to expand your reach in a social media platform is through the use of the so-called influencer, enabling your brand to directly tap into their network of followers, whether it’s a simple shout-out or with a more involving collaborative process, an avenue that notable fashion brands have been following for several years.
The Swedish clothing giant H&M first collaborated with fashion blogger Elin Kling in 2011, launching a collaborative fashion line within the company and becoming the first blogger to cooperate directly with the Swedish company. More impressively, the Japanese minimalist fashion brand Uniqlo collaborated with the mixed-race blogger and designer Hana Tajima to launch a line centered on clothing for modest women, coinciding with their recent push in Muslim majority countries in the Southeast Asian region, Malaysia and Indonesia. Influencer marketing, especially through the process of collaboration, can be a powerful tool. The thing with a brand is, no matter how friendly and approachable your language and aesthetics are, it is still a name slapped on a product, there’s no tangible human being involved with the name and as such, it’s not always easy to make a connection with a brand just like that. Influencers doesn’t suffer from the same pitfall, there’s no need to put a human face because influencers are actual human being, which is why they tend to have a much more intimate relationship with their audience compared to the one a brand have with their legion of fans. That being said though, collaborating with an influencer isn’t without its dangers and there are several things you need to watch out for and plan ahead when it comes to dealing with this newfangled marketing trend, such as:
- Find out if they share the kind of audience you’re looking for
The Hana Tajima example above is pretty self-explanatory. Islamic fashion caters to a specific and fast-growing audience, forward-thinking Muslim women. Uniqlo is making a push into Muslim majority countries and Hana Tajima is already a respected voice within that particular niche, collaborating with her is practically a no-brainer. No matter what your field of business is, it is important to find an influencer that has a network of communities around them that you want to tap into. It’s not just about the influencer, choosing which social media platform to participate in is also important as different platforms serve different audiences.
- Make sure that they share the same principles and aesthetics
Choosing an influencer to work with involves a lot more than picking the most popular individual and simply roll with it, it’s akin to making them an official representative for your brand, even if it’s for a temporary basis and as such, people are going to consider the two of you practically interchangeable. This is directly tied with the point above as what your company stands for has a lot of weight in defining your audience. Things such as a political stance and religious preferences are highly divisive and making sure that the influencer you’re working with is on the same side of you is elementary. Take for example the noted Swedish YouTube personality Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg, famous for his abrasive, profanity-laced and generally bro-ish commentary on video games and his association with the now Disney-owned Maker Studios. As his style of content is far removed from Disney’s family-friendly image, they chose to end their partnership with him, especially after allegations of antisemitism arose against the YouTube celebrity, which leads into my next point
- Always prepare for a PR scandal
Influencers are quintessentially human and as they’re usually independent of corporate meddling, they are much more approachable and outspoken than the average company. This is a good thing for the most part but it is also this very thing that renders them especially prone to PR scandals and other brouhahas. The fall from grace of the Paul brothers is widely documented and does not need repeating. In another example, another YouTube celebrity (starting to see a pattern here) by the name of Nicole Arbour posted a 6-minute fat-shaming rant titled “Dear Fat People”. You see, a lot has been made about an influencer’s capability of being an honest figure in lieu of the standard PR language most major companies operates in but that PR language exists for a reason, which is to avoid situations like these.
The mounting scandals when it comes to influencers in the past few years or so has lead some in the industry to believe that we’ve reached peak influencer, so to speak, and that it’s not going to be as prevalent as it has been and that’s true, but only to a certain extent. Influencer is still going to matter in 2018, but not ones with millions of followers, giving rise to the term of macro and micro influencers. The statistic is that as a social media account gets bigger and bigger, the actual engagement process moves in the opposite direction, which makes sense as interacting with an audience of 1 million is exponentially harder than with an audience of 1,000. This is the trend that has been the topic of conversation in recent months and it is up to you to decide how you chose to leverage the ever expansive reach of social media for your brand in 2018