min read

Strategically Sourcing Brand-Influencer Partnerships

Leverage influencer marketing by aligning brand values, identifying target audiences, and capitalizing on creators’ personable nature. Learn to maximize campaign reach by assessing synergies and engagement.

Influencer marketing is a $24 billion industry, and that number is only growing. By 2030, that number is expected to grow to over $51 billion. 

Effective Synergies and Brand Values 

When choosing an influencer, it’s important to consider your core values as a brand and choose someone who aligns with those particular values. 

Either explicitly or implicitly, when choosing influencers, brands are choosing who they want to represent them. The choice of influencer communicates to the world: this is who we are and who we want to attract. When gone wrong, it can create an unclear brand vision and in more extreme examples, can anger consumers and tank sales. 

A prime example of influencer partnerships gone wrong is transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney’s partnership with beer company, Bud Light. Dylan first became popular on TikTok, where she became known for her “Days of Girlhood” series, in which she documented her transition to her then 10.6 million followers. 

When Dylan promoted a Bud Light giveaway and posted a can with her face on it, many Bud Light fans became enraged. Bud Light sales have since suffered, as many of the more conservative supporters of the brand called for a boycott.    

While Bud Light’s partnership with Dylan could have been an effort to reestablish company values and shift their target audience, it is more likely a reflection of a misjudgment of consumer preferences and values. It is important to consider not only top-down values but also the values of the consumer base at large when choosing influencers. 

Other times, a synergy between a brand and an influencer is palpable. When Netflix’s Queer Eye star, Jonathan Van Ness, known beauty stylist both on and off screen, partnered with Biossance, a luxury skincare care brand, it just made sense. What further confirmed this fit is the alignment of Jonathan’s outspoken values with those of the brand. The influencer and TV star is known for promoting inclusivity and sustainable beauty practices, which is exactly what Biossance stands for. 

Setting Campaign Goals 

Before launching an influencer marketing campaign, setting clear and objective goals is huge. Whether the goal is to drive sales or increase brand awareness, companies must define metrics to track these goals. These goals will inform how companies can most effectively use their marketing budgets, what type of influencers they partner with, and the most effective channels of promotion. 

Identifying a Niche 

An integral part of choosing influencers that align with company goals and values is understanding their niche. Who is your target audience and what influencer’s audience most closely aligns with this demographic group? Considering not only age, gender, and race, but also particular areas of interest are all important when it comes to building a consistent brand image and maximizing campaign impact. A promotional ad should fit seamlessly into an influencer’s other content, making consumers believe that this is really a product or service that they themselves would use irrespective of sponsorship. 

Finding an influencer who already aligns with a company’s values and niche allows the influencer more creative freedom when it comes to how they see fit to promote the product, in a way that seems true to their brand. They’ve already established themselves as reputable and a plausible customer– now it’s up to them to sell it to their audience. 

It’s all about authenticity, so identifying creators with personable and genuine voices is crucial. A distinct online presence and frequent engagement with followers is a strong start to finding an influencer with a unique audience and dedicated followers. This is all the more amplified when the product they are promoting aligns with their personal brand. 

Maximizing Reach

When choosing influencers to promote a company, understanding that influencer’s reach is of utmost concern. Not only looking at channels of direct engagement, like their followers on particular platforms but at indirect engagement from exploration features on social media. Calculating the engagement rate by looking at previous likes, shares, comments, and reposts on previous sponsored content can help cross-compare influencers to see who has the greatest reach for the respective amount of followers. 

The Nature of Influencers

Influencer marketing is all about trust. People might not inherently trust a brand in the same way they would an influencer with an established area of expertise, whom they have been following for a while. In a day and age where consumers are constantly being bombarded with advertisements, a friendly face can make all the difference.

“The best thing about using an influencer strategy is that people consider influencers to be their friends and not celebrities,” an Entrepreneur article says. 

Companies can capitalize on the parasocial relationships influencers have with their following. People feel like they really know influencers– they can engage with them by commenting on their posts and sometimes get comments back. The candid nature of influencers across sponsored and non-sponsored posts makes us feel closer to them. Transparency about personal issues also helps to break the stardom typically associated with celebrity. Influencers have real problems too, and sharing those issues publically builds a sense of intimacy with their audience. When promoting a solution to a problem they’ve been struggling with, their endorsement seems all the more genuine. 

Influencer Size

Choosing the type of influencer to work with is also part of the challenge. With influencers ranging from Mega influencers- think Alix Earle– to nano influencers, it's important to consider your overall campaign goals and target audience when choosing influencer size. It goes without saying that big-name influencers will be significantly more expensive than smaller ones. If your goal is to target hard-to-reach audiences, employing a multitude of smaller influencers might be the best strategy. But if you’re looking to maximize reach to a general audience, and generate demand or ‘hype,’ partnering with fewer large-scale influencers might be the way to go. 

Influencer PR

Another way to engage influencers is through gifted PR. Sending creators new products can be part of an effective launch strategy since influencers will often organically talk about the products they get sent. PR giftings are riskier in the sense that there is no agreement between the brand and influencer and they likely won’t directly translate into sales as well as a sponsored post. With that in mind, influencers will often post their reactions to products they’ve been trying, and they can be a great way to create buzz. 

The bottom line is the more a consumer is exposed to a product, the more likely they are to buy it. Gifted PR can be an effective way to get online communities talking, and help with retargeting consumers. 

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