Yuzal Ben-Itzhak, one of the world’s leading technology experts, recently said ‘Now is the time to look on content as the true digital currency between a brand and its audience’.
In other words, the smart brands are already recognizing that most of their creative energy, strategic brain-power and marketing budget should be directed into making incredible content. Which is where you come in.
But, as an influencer and content creator, you need to demonstrate something more than just an eye for a beautiful image or fashionable look.
As brands start to invest more in influencer marketing they will naturally begin to pay much closer attention to what the precise return on that investment is.
Therefore, today’s brands aren’t simply going to look for someone who can take great pictures and has a big audience – they want a creative partner capable of delivering against a very specific set of performance metrics for their campaign.
It’s another huge step in the crossover between traditional creative agencies and individual influencers – and you will now be expected to prove your value before, during and after the campaign.
As an influencer you should already be able to demonstrate, through data and insights, how you engage your audience, as well as clear evidence about the type of content and conversations that work best.
What you also need to think about is how you can (and will) translate that knowledge into the specific business objective attached to a brand’s campaign – whether that’s raising brand awareness, increasing conversation share or more tangible actions like driving traffic and sales.
One way to really prove your expertise as a professional influencer, not just a talented Instagrammer, is through a deeper understanding of performance metrics. Brands will expect you to be able to share and interpret core metrics like engagement rate, but you can demonstrate the rigor of your approach by understanding neglected metrics like engagement velocity – which essentially shows how quickly your content starts to generate engagements and interactions.
A Crowdtap study analyzed what motivates influencers to work with a brand and discovered that 44% prefer to work with brands whose offering is relevant to their audience. And while the study revealed that relevance was the number one motivation for influencers when choosing brand partners, it’s staggering to think that over half of those influencers are not as concerned about aligning their interests with the brands they work with.
It would be incredibly self-defeating for an influencer to simply adapt their style and values to meet any brand willing to pay them. Quite simply, if your authenticity and specialism can be so easily abandoned, then you won’t have very much value in influencer marketing for very long.
Instead, you should be focusing on establishing your own personal brand as an influencer – defining your expertise and building influence based on consistent, relevant and focused content.
That way, when a relevant brand begins to go through your post history (and they absolutely will) they’ll see someone who is not only creative and persuasive, but someone with the social CV to add credibility to their campaigns.
And, on a similar note, brands will not only be looking for expertise but for exclusive expertise. Brands will look carefully at the other businesses you work with and if you’re marketing potential seems saturated by too many promotions, or there seems to be no pattern behind what you’re prepared to endorse, they’ll probably take you off their list.
Compromise isn’t something creative people always do very well. But, if you want to make a living from social media influencing, creative compromise will help you build long and rewarding relationships.
That’s not to say you should simply be a hired mouthpiece for whatever a brand wants you to do and say. Any brand who understands influencer marketing will want you, as an expert in engaging your audience, to help them shape their content and creative communication strategies.
And while 93% of influencers feel as if they should be in control of the narrative, brands do often struggle to let go.
That’s why your role is to drive a more balanced and collaborative working relationship – one where the brand values your external knowledge and experience, and where you become as knowledgeable and passionate about the brand as the people who work there.
It’s part of the job that requires a little professional sensitivity and empathy. Imagine, for example, if someone took over your social media profiles and started doing exactly what they wanted! Your role in the process is to prove to your partners that you can create content and campaigns in your own individual style that fits perfectly with what the brand stands for (and, most importantly, reflects how you both want your audience to experience your relationship).