Recently, Unilever CMO Keith Weed caused a stir with an announcement. At the Cannes Lions he denounced maladministration in influencer marketing and made it clear that the group would no longer want to work with influencers who buy followers. At the same time, he called on the industry and platforms like Instagram to use appropriate measures to restore confidence before it disappeared forever. A clear plea for transparency in the hype discipline.
The case of Unilever shows that keywords such as honesty and transparency have already permeated the influencer marketing ecosystem so deeply that they can no longer be ignored. It is still a balancing act for brands to gain consumer confidence – a challenge that is not confined to a specific industry and affects both B2B and B2C marketers. Consumers are now mobilizing much faster than they used to when they feel they have been treated unfairly. Brands and the digital platforms have recognized this and are taking confidence-building measures.
This is proven by various examples and developments of recent months. Mark Zuckerberg personally approached the US Congress and the European Parliament following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In May, the EU implemented stringent data and data protection provisions under the GDPR. Facebook and Instagram have even changed algorithms to improve the user experience on their platforms. The marketing and advertising efforts are being scrutinized and are forcing companies to take responsibility for how they address consumers. This applies in particular to influencer marketing.
“The problem is that influencers are not automatically relevant or authentic. Some are simply cheaters.”
– Jose de Cabo
The appeal of Influencer Marketing to brands is understandable. Who does it right, can generate big business. The problem is, however, that influencers are not automatically relevant or authentic. Some are simply scammers. They buy fake followers, giving the impression of having a broad reach and influence.
The damage from such cooperations is immense for companies and has a lasting effect on the reputation. More than half of agency and marketing executives believe that 10 to 50 percent of ad donations fall victim to this type of fraud.
But how can you avoid becoming the next deterrent yourself? Here are five basic rules to keep in mind:
1. Find the right influencer through clearly defined goals
As with any other marketing strategy, you’ll need a well-defined plan and KPIs in advance. This makes it much easier to find the right influencer for the job. Define your goal exactly. Gain access to data or insights through the influencer. For example, would you like to push the awareness or is the sale in focus? Or maybe both? Do you also clarify whether you are responsible for the campaign set-ups or leave it to the influencer? And outline exactly which social media platform you want to be active on and who your target group is.
2. Do not forget the background check
Every influencer you work with must be carefully checked and reviewed in advance. Ask yourself: is his image consistent with our brand? Because just because a social media star or star has a high follower count does not necessarily mean that they fit better with your brand than a social media lightweight. Often, a micro-influencer, that is, someone with fewer than 10,000 followers, may be the better choice when it comes to activating the community and offering, for example, call-to-action or incentives to buy. Also, check if the influencer is working with bots or fake followers. Take a look at the engagement on different posts, for example. If he has 100,000 followers, but only a few like and comment on his posts, then he can not activate the community or have fake followers – or both. If your commitment is unusually low, the warning lights should be on you.
3. Remuneration and Content: Clarify the terms of cooperation
Most influencers – even micro-influencers – are now demanding compensation for cooperation. Therefore, you should know their budget and their conditions in advance. When you negotiate the payment, make sure that you ask the following questions: Is billing in the form of a lump sum or pay for performance? You should also reserve the right to release content before publishing. Because even if you thoroughly check the influencer in advance, you should still have control over what content is published. This applies both to the text in a post and to the picture material.
Once the terms of the cooperation have been agreed, they should be recorded in a contract. It serves as a hedge in case something goes wrong. And finally, it’s better to have a contract and not need it than to need a contract and not have one.
4. Please note the labeling requirement
Every time you formally partner with an influencer, whether it’s delivering goods and products, or spending money, you need to make sure that the posts and content are properly and transparently labeled for what they are: advertising. That must be unmistakably obvious to the users. If you do not do that, in the worst case you risk warnings or even litigation.
5. Do not forget about reporting and analysis
Discuss in detail how the reporting process works. For example, determine if your company has an internal reporting tool or if it makes sense to outsource it to third-party vendors. Only in this way can you assess the ROI and optimize your processes. It should also be possible to measure using the KPIs you want, regardless of whether they are views, reach, or others.
After the campaign is before the campaign: Analyze the results after the campaign ends to make sure you get more valuable insights. For example, have all KPIs been reached? What went well? Which hurdles had to be taken? What would you change next time? Brainstorming alone is not enough here. Record the lessons learned to ensure that future campaigns are built accordingly.
Also check our article on: 9 Success Strategies: Companies Finally Use Linkedin Correctly
Two of the key factors in influencer marketing are transparency and authenticity. The method will continue to play a major role in the advertising and marketing world, if only because brands put more emphasis on an optimal customer experience. The black sheep and unfair marketing practices will certainly soon be overshadowed by consumer protection and new data protection regulations.