Working with influencers: the importance of authenticity
There are those on both ends of influencer marketing: the bloggers or social media influencers with the ability to affect their audience’s decisions, and the company or brand communicators that want the influencers talk to about their brand, whether it’s providing a product to review or inviting the influencer to an event.
Working in PR, the above description might seem simple enough, but is often the problem when it comes to working relationships between communicators and influencers. There’s an underlying implication that influencers are there only to sell things to their audience and this simply isn’t the case.
Successful influencers have enough to talk about without input from brands. They create their own content and know what works for their audience. If your chosen influencer was really only around to help you push your services or products, then in reality they probably wouldn’t be very influential at all.
This week I read a fantastic EConsultancy interview with Marion Payet, the founder of travel blog Hibiscus and Nomada. In it, Marion discusses her approach to her blog – creating truly authentic content based on her lifestyle and interests, with the view that if you have similar interests, then you’ll relate to the reviews and like her recommendations. It’s a simple yet brilliant way to align blog posts and carve out a specific niche audience.
What makes a good influencer?
This clear vision and audience understanding makes influencers like Marion ideal to work with, but also means that they’re likely to reject a lot of brand collaborations, as they know exactly what does and doesn’t work for their audience. This is a stamp of authenticity and doesn’t mean there isn’t a conversation to be had. It just means PR professionals need to understand this and fully accept the influencer’s judgement.
It also doesn’t mean that influencer stats like blog readership, social media followers and engagement are irrelevant, it just means authenticity is more important.
If one of these bloggers discusses your branded product or service, it’s really reaching the right audience, and reaching a smaller amount of the right people is better than a huge audience that will disregard your message.
So how should we work with these influencers?
If you feel you have a product or service that an influencer’s audience would like to hear about, then let them know. Just make sure you’ve done your research first. If they’re open to having a conversation, you can discuss how you might be able to work together to create content. Options range from providing a product for the influencer to review to inviting them to an industry event to blog about their thoughts and experience afterwards.
The most important thing remember is that if you’re speaking to a good influencer, they know their audience better than you do, so listen to their opinions and take their feedback on board. If they decide that your product or service isn’t right for them, then that’s final.
What makes a good collaboration?
The importance of authenticity applies to both the PR professional and the influencer. If both are upfront and decide a collaboration is possible, they can work together to create content that both promotes the brand and is interesting to the influencer’s audience.
The best examples of these collaborations create real conversations around the brand and the influencer’s thoughts on it. This means a talking point for the brand and an engaged audience for the influcencer – the ultimate sign of success on both parts.