The vast majority of brands have, by now, adopted influencer marketing as an essential marketing technique to reach their audience. Some have done it because the role of influencers fit the vision of the brand to spearhead a community of interest; some have done it as a tool towards digital transformation and to find this version of their future selves; while some have adopted influencer marketing out of sheer desperation and failure to successfully engage with their customers online.
If your brand belongs in this last category, let me start by reassuring you that you're not alone and that there is indeed a path to success with influencer marketing but more importantly with your approach to marketing altogether.
Embrace Uncomfortable First Encounters with Influencers
Very often, for brands acting on influencer marketing out of FOMO (fear of missing out), your first encounter with influencers is uncomfortable. Why? Because the very first thing influencers will do is to place a mirror in front of the brands they talk to, making it impossible for someone to avoid the reflection of their own image. You may discover that the source of this discomfort is the very thing that may make your brand struggle on social to begin with.
How You Engage with Influencers Will Ultimately Define Your Brand
What you do next is ultimately what will define your brand and ultimately your success in engaging with your community. You can decide to "turn off" influencer marketing and start engaging exclusively with 'influencers' for paid endorsements in an attempt to control the message and project the image YOU want to their audience. You can check the box of influencer marketing while skillfully avoiding having to be challenged by influencers (and by proxy your customers).
Why the “Trick” is Actually on You
Now this approach comes with a pitfall you should be aware of: you and your surrogate influencers may think that you're tricking your audience. What is actually happening is that you're the one being tricked. Your customers aren't stupid (if you think otherwise, you should probably be in a different line of business) and know a paid endorsement when they see one. Your influencers lose the attention of their community, your image gets tarnished, and you're not using a prime opportunity to engage with your community and learn from them.
Address the Challenges Brought Forward by Influencers
The other approach is to embrace the discomfort and use it as a catalyst to address challenges your influencers have crystallized for you. You treat your community and its influencers with the respect they deserve. You listen to them and, through them, you start defining your new self on social media.
So, trick or treat? You decide.
To treat your community and its influencers the right way, download our newest eBook, Influencer Marketing in Real Life. You’ll get exclusive insights from top brand marketers and influencers on how to apply real-life principles to your influencer marketing.