6 Things to Consider before Using Influencers in your Business
If you’re looking to seriously scale your product-based business, it’s likely that you’ve considered using influencer marketing to do so. If you’re on any form of social media, it’s likely that the question isn’t whether you’ve been “influenced” but to what extent your purchasing decisions have been affected by influencers that you follow.
While we tend to think influencer marketing was born from social media, in reality, this form of marketing is nothing new. Remember back to the early days of Michael Jordan flogging Nike Air Jordan’s? Or Britney Spears and her infamous Pepsi campaigns (#freebritney)?
While it used to be limited to celebrities and pro-athletes, there really is no influencer mould any more. From food bloggers to past Bachelor contestants selling everything from protein shakes to Geico Home Insurance...whatever you’re offering, there’s likely an influencer that’s willing to promote it for you.
With Business Insider estimating the influencer space to be a $15B industry by 2022, both large and small businesses are tapping into this really effective marketing strategy - seriously, tell me you haven’t bought anything your fave YouTube make-up tutorial or Amazon product reviewer told you to….I’ll wait…
But, before you dive into using influencer marketing in your business, here are a few things you should consider:
What do you expect when you send the Influencer product? Perhaps at the beginning, it’s just to get to know them, see if they use and like your product and then get their feedback.
But, as you send more product out the door or pay your influencer per post or campaign, you’ll want to ensure you are getting a return on your investment, that posts are getting scheduled in line with your campaign deadlines, and that you have open lines of communication. Nothing sours a relationship faster than sending out a product package then….crickets…
Even if it’s the first time sending a product out, setting out when you would like to receive feedback isn’t too much to ask.
2. Ownership of Content
Who’s going to own the content created at the end of the day? You’ll want to be really clear about this. If the influencer retains the copyright to the works , you’ll want to ensure your business gets a license to use it for all the purposes you need to, such as for ongoing marketing use on your own accounts, as well as setting out how long you’re able to post and repost that content. You’ll want to make sure this is clearly set out in an agreement between you so as to avoid confusion in the future.
3. Reporting Requirements
Hiring an influencer is an investment in time and money, so you want to have a way to ensure that this is a worthwhile way to spend those resources. Having the ability to dive into your Influencer’s metrics and insights for certain posts or stories is all helpful data that will be able to not only gage whether this type of marketing is working, but also for you to know what content lands, and maybe more importantly, what doesn’t, with their audience.
4. Having an Out
We’ve all seen it, cancel culture is a thing and having your brand tied up with an Influencer who has made hateful or disparaging comments that aren’t aligned with your brand and risks damaging your reputation is not something you want to stick around for. Having a clause in your contract that allows you to cut ties immediately in the event your influencer posts something offensive will help ensure your brand isn’t harmed in the crossfire.
5. Ensuring you and your Influencer know the Laws
What a lot of people don’t quite understand is that, while it used to be a largely unregulated industry, there are laws and disclosure requirements that must be complied with that at their core, are aimed at protecting the public.
Generally, influencers must disclose any material connection to your company and what that connection is, such as your gifting of free products to them or if they’re getting paid for their posted content.
This disclosure language needs to be clearly set out (read: not hidden in the comments), on their social media posts, blogs, websites etc. This includes using clear hashtags like #paid #ad or #sponsored”. The key is that this needs to be clear, so language like “ambassador”, “collab”, “spon” shouldn’t be used, because it’s just not obvious enough what the connection is between the influencer and the brand.
These disclosure requirements should be communicated before any posts are made to ensure you’re both operating on the right side of the law. For a great breakdown of the Canadian requirements, I recommend you check out the Canadian Competition Bureau’s Influencer Marketing Guidelines here.
6. Keep it Real
It’s likely you reached out to someone to represent your brand because you value their authenticity and the public’s ability to sniff out fake relationships are pretty darn good. It’s never a bad idea to remind your influencer that they have a legal obligation to be truthful in their posts.
This is also just good business! It will negatively affect your brand if your influencer endorses a product or service they haven’t actually used so you need to ensure that anyone you pay to promote your products is doing so because it is their genuine, honest experience and relatively recent opinion. We all know that one person who used a cream once and claims it reversed their aging by a million years. Not. Buying. It. Instead, let’s keep it real.
Influencer marketing is a HUGE business and it’s only getting bigger, so remember to treat it that way! Setting out your expectations of your working relationship in a contract is the best way to ensure you protect your business.
If you’re reading this thinking, “I need one of these!” but don’t know where to start, I’ve got you covered with an Influencer Marketing Agreement Template that sets all of this out (and so much more!) so you can feel confident including this effective marketing tool as part of the strategy you use to confidently scale your business.