Though the number of brands creating formalized influencer marketing programs has increased greatly over the past few years, it’s not really a new function if you think about. In its purest form, it’s been done for years and years. Brands just didn’t play such a significant role. Think about it. Since products and services first started to be sold, buyers have looked for information and recommendations from people other than the brands offering the products and services. Family, friends and celebrities (before celebrity endorsers became a thing) were all the earliest form of influencers.
Everyone is Influential
Today, influencer marketing has transformed into something much more expansive, yet also much more specific. Influence is now virtually everywhere – in person, on TV, on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Facebook, and the list goes on and on. Yet it’s gotten much more specific because of mid-level and micro influencers who talk about a niche genre and have a niche audience. Let’s take, for example, a travel blogger. This person has real credibility and experience. It isn’t just your aunt or friend recommending a vacation destination because they enjoyed a trip there. A travel blogger has been all over the world and can provide recommendations based on specific criteria – budget, length of trip, cultural experience, cuisine, etc.
While macro-influencers or celebrity endorsers can and do bring ROI for some brands, more and more companies are looking to work with mid-level and micro influencers because of the relationships they have and the personal engagement they maintain with their audience on a consistent basis. Brands are finding that they can gain more value and better results from working with mid-level or micro influencers rather than big name macro influencers. Why is this the case?
Expertise – Mid-level and micro Influencers build expertise within their realm of influence. A fourth grade teacher who blogs about education will be looked at as a qualified source of information on the topic. A celebrity who played a teacher in a movie is not a qualified source of information. When it comes to recommending a classroom planning software or a math textbook, who do you think holds more influence with teachers?
Authenticity – mid-level and micro Influencers are looked at more authentically and with more trust than their macro counterparts. Consumers feel like they’re getting more of a “tell it like it is” perspective from influencers who aren’t viewed as big celebrities.
Location – Proximity also plays an important role in influence. If Charlotte from Austin, Texas, provided a list of the top 10 best food trucks in the area on her food blog, her readers may put more weight in that list than the same list written by someone from Chicago.
Because of factors like expertise, authenticity and location, the opportunities are endless for brands looking to utilize the influence of a mid or micro-level influencer. Brands big and small are taking this approach to influencer marketing and consumers are benefitting from it. The important thing to remember is to find the right influencers for your brand that can make the biggest impact on your audience and for your business.
To learn more about how mid and micro-level influencers are disrupting social media marketing, join us for our live webinar .
You’ve put lots of time, effort and resources into finding influencers to work with on your campaign. You’ve educated them on your brand and goals, given them assets and answered all the questions they have. After the campaign is up and running, it’s smooth sailing. Everything is going well. They’re bringing people to your website or improving clicks or whatever your objectives are. But then it happens – they do something…
Maybe that something just makes you a little uncomfortable, but maybe it goes further and makes you cringe. It may not even be something they did that directly relates to your brand. It could be something they did in their personal life.
Sometimes, even after you thoroughly research into their past actions online and personal values to make sure they align with your brands, an influencer will do something that could have a negative impact on your brand. At that point, you have to make the decision – do you stick with the influencer or cut ties and end the relationship?
This was a decision previously facing Speedo, Ralph Lauren, Gentle Hair Removal and Airweave, following swimmer Ryan Lochte’s actions in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games. After Lochte and three fellow swimmers kicked in a gas station bathroom door and then filed a false report claiming they were robbed at gunpoint, the four brands had to decide if they would stick with him as an endorser. Ultimately all four made the decision to end their relationships with Lochte.
Now you might be thinking that the situation is different because he’s a celebrity endorser with a large following, not your ‘average’ social influencer. However, the same implications that came from his negative actions can still occur if a mid or micro-level influencer shines a negative light on your brand. So what led these four companies to drop the Olympic swimmer?
First and foremost, you have to analyze if an influencer’s actions could impact your brand financially. Will your brand’s attachment to the person cause customers to forfeit your brand? If so, the decision is easy. If your brand is public, you also have to factor in stock price. You don’t want shareholders to be turned off by an influencer relationship.
Brand reputation assessment
Even if your brand isn’t affected financially by the influencer, your brand’s value in the public’s eye could be impacted. If an influencer associated with your brand does something that’s really out of line with your brand’s values, it could lead to criticism of your brand, which can slowly build until it is financially affected.
Sometimes an influencer will do something that doesn’t necessarily impact your brand’s financial position or public reputation, but it simply makes you uncomfortable. These situations can be the hardest to assess because the damage isn’t as obvious. If it makes you uncomfortable though, odds are it makes others uncomfortable, too. The actions could eventually build to affect your brand’s reputation or its financial standing.
To make the decision easier, and to protect yourself legally, it’s a good idea to include a behavior clause in all of your influencer contracts. This clearly presents what you expect of the influencers you work with, as well as what would give you cause to end a relationship.
Of course, sometimes actions by an influencer that aren’t good for one brand, can be good for another.
In Lochte’s case, he was signed to an endorsement deal by Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops after Speedo and his other pre-Olympic endorsers dropped him. With a tagline “Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops: Forgiving On Your Throat,” it makes more sense for the cough drop brand to align itself with people asking for forgiveness and trying to rebuild their personal brand.