One of the first stages of influencer marketing is deciding which influencers to reach out to. Source: Shutterstock

What should brands consider when working with influencers?

INFLUENCER marketing has truly gone mainstream.

While it’s not a new marketing technique – celebrities and authoritative figures have long been used to promote brands – the rise of social media has given rise to a wider range of influencers.

The mass following of these influencers represents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to leverage them as a platform to expand reach, increase sales, and create trustworthy recommendations for your brand.

However, for businesses looking to explore influencer marketing, there are some vital points to be considered.

At the Asia Influencers Carnival and Awards (AICA) event held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Kenny Ong, MD of Universal Music, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indochina, shared his tips on what brands should consider when selecting an influencer.

Kenny Ong speaking at AICA yesterday. Source: Tech Wire Asia

Followers VS Fans

According to Ong, when it comes to choosing an influencer to work with your brand, you should look beyond the numbers. While an influencer may have a huge following, this doesn’t mean to say that they will bring value to you.

A brand should start by looking into the demographic makeup on an influencer’s following as well as their geographic origins.

For instance, a Malaysia-based brand might find an influencer with over 50,000 followers, without noticing that the majority of these are from other countries.

Likewise, if you’re a brand selling women’s products, you must check that the following of an influencer you wish to work with has a large female following.

Is the following of the influencer consistent with your brand? Source: Shutterstock

“So followers doesn’t mean exposure because you need to understand the demographics,” said Ong.

Furthermore, when deciding on an influencer to work with, brands must remember that followers are different to fans, says Ong.

An influencer may have a prolific following but a large chunk of these may not be true fans who ultimately will be the ones who share the branded content and spend the money.

“The difference between followers and fans is money. Are your fans going to spend money on you?” says Ong.

Furthermore, we’re in an age where buying likes and follows is easier than ever before. This poses the question as to whether the influencer you choose has a following who are genuinely interested in the content or whether they are simply a bot. This are all vital things to consider.

Posting VS marketing

When deciding on an influencer, it is wise to take a look at what the potential social-media star is already posting, how they’re working with other brands, and the type of engagement they are getting.

According to Ong, you want someone who does more than simply upload a selfie with your product. The marketing component both before and after the post is key in keeping your following engaged.

“If you take Arianna Grande for example. Before she launches a single, you will see every three days we will have a new post about the song, one month before. And we will have a new post about the song every three days after the song comes out. That is marketing,” explained Ong.

“Many brands only focus on posting and not the marketing. If you’re going to work with influencers, please get them to help you plan marketing around their posts,” added Ong.

Influencers are different to ads

Before implementing an influencer-marketing strategy, it is important for brands to understand that influencers and ads cannot be treated in the same way.

“For advertisements, you can control, but for influencers it’s different. Because the thing with influencers is that they do things their way,” Ong told the audience.

An influencer’s authenticity is what the consumers of today crave. The influencers are the true content creation experts here. So brands who allow influencers the freedom to showcase their skills will ultimately get the best results.

It is, of course, important to provide some kind of guidelines about what you’re looking for in a campaign, otherwise, you may end up with something that is totally inconsistent with your brand.

However, if brands want full control over content, then influencer marketing is not the thing for them.