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Authenticity and Creativity are Just as Valuable

Did you know that influencers can be a creative source of content?

When advertisers first starting thinking about influencer marketing, they are typically thinking about benefits in terms of reach in traffic and exposure. Their goals tend to be focused on the blogger or social media influencer’s ability to expose audiences to their products and encourage them to learn more and buy.

But, advertisers with experience in influencer marketing have learned something valuable that you might not expect, but can use in future campaigns: Influencers create amazing content.

From photos to videos to product descriptions and reviews, influencers create content that make consumers think, “I want that”. Their influence isn’t just about reach, it’s about authenticity and creativity.

Consider Frito-Lay for minute. They asked regular people to come up with video ads for their Doritos brand. They knew that even with millions of dollars in their ad budget, someone outside of their organization could create amazing content for them. They didn’t worry about how many visitors the creator had to a site, or how many viewers followed them on YouTube – they just wanted the content. In fact, Frito-Lay took on the responsibility of distribution in the grandest way possible: they bought Super Bowl ads. The video creators (influencers) developed amazing content, and the advertiser distributed it.

Here are some thoughts and examples of how you can use this concept in your Influencer Marketing campaigns.

Influencers Create Amazing Photos

At Influencer Marketing Days in NY this past November, Max Ciccotosto from Light in the Box talked about managing an influencer marketing plan on a global scale. In his presentation, he touched on influencer-created content and how important it is to the company’s overall marketing and sales strategy.

Like many retailers and marketplaces, Light in the Box has hundreds of suppliers/vendors. They receive products, specs and descriptions in a variety of formats and have a lot of work to do in standardizing it all for display on their site. One problem area they pin-pointed: product photos.

Imagine trying to market and sell jeans, swimwear, shoes, handbags and even wedding dresses without amazing product photos.

Influencers to the rescue! Light in the Box relies on influencers to provide the amazing photos they need. They ship the product to the influencer who takes photos of the products in a variety of creative ways, and then the retailer is granted the rights to use those photos in their marketing efforts.

Here, the “influence” isn’t carried out through reach – it’s carried out through creativity. People who see the photos are influenced to buy the product. The influencer supplies the creative, influential photos and the retailer applies the reach to drive sales.

Influencers Create Better Video Than You

No matter what niches you’re interested in, as a consumer yourself, you’ve undoubtedly seen a video on Facebook, Snapchat or Instragram of an influencer “un-boxing” a product or collection of products that was shipped to them from a brand.

Of COURSE the brand could do the video themselves. They could take their own product and list all of the features in glowing detail. But, what they can’t do on their own is replace the authentic curiosity, surprise, appreciation and disappointment of someone without encyclopedic knowledge of the products opening the box in their own home.

As a consumer, you innately feel the difference between a brand advertising their product in a video, and a consumer – even one that’s been compensated to do so – discovering, reacting to and describing a product in a video. And you innately trust that consumer or influencer exponentially more than you do the brand.

Before you spend thousands on scripting, casting, shooting, producing, and editing a video of your own… hand your product over to a few influencers, and ask them to come up with a video for you. You’ll definitely spend less in time and resources, and likely spend less money to have the videos created. In the end, you’ll have much more effective content – the kind that consumers will actually watch, respond to and share.

Influencers Write Honest Product Descriptions

You’re shopping for a new umbrella. You are looking at one on Amazon. You see this phrase:

Collapse it, shake it once, and it is dry enough to stick in your purse or briefcase.

  • How much trust do you place in this phrase when it is in the Product Description? When the manufacturer or seller makes this claim, do you believe it?
  • Now, how does that level of trust change when you see the same phrase in a Customer Review? You feel much more inclined to believe the customer, don’t you?

As much as the advertiser knows their own product, they know that their potential customers are skeptical when reading product descriptions – especially the benefits and claims. Customers believe the manufacturer when they say a table is 30″ high, but they are not so convinced that the table is as “sturdy”, “beautiful” or even as “red” as the manufacturer says. Is it really red, or is it more of a brown with a reddish hue?

Consumers simply place more trust in a third-party description. This is why we see so many advertisers asking influencers for “Product Reviews”. But, these reviews don’t have to sit on the blogger’s site alone. Why not include their review on your site? Why not share their description right on your product page? (Don’t get sneaky, disclose your relationship!)

Put your products in the hands of an influencer and let them write a review, a description or a reaction. Don’t worry about the influencer’s ability to get that message out – you can do that part. Their influence lies in their ability to write content that connects with your consumers on a level you just can’t.

Include Creative Licensing in Your Campaign Terms

Setting expectations for deliverables, compensation and use of the content is extremely important in effectively executing this strategy. Consider adding these terms to your campaign:

Deliverables

  • Get specific. If you want 250+ words, specify that. If you want the image optimized for Instagram, specify the size and format. If you want the video to be 45 seconds long, say so.
  • Don’t assume that influencers will “know what you mean” or that there is any kind of “standard” in deliverables. Say exactly what you want. (But, read my warning below!)

Use of Content

  • Once the content is created, who “owns” it? Who can use and how can they use it and when can they use it?
  • As a general rule of thumb, the influencer will “own” the content that they create, unless you stipulate that they’ll be turning over the rights to the work to you. So, if you plan on using their content in any way, disclose that fact right from the start.
  • Consider SEO implications if you plan on sharing rights and distribution activities. Are you both adding the exact same post to your sites?

Compensation

  • Consider what you believe you’re buying and be up front with the influencer about WHY you’re hiring them.
  • Influencers may have different rates based on what they are creating, how active they are in the distribution and how restricted they are in the use of the content. Some may charge less because they don’t have to distribute the piece on their social channels, some may charge more because they can’t distribute the piece on their social channels.

The point is, get out in front of any potential point of confusion. Tell them what the deliverable is, what the restrictions are and specifically what you are paying them for.

Warning: Don’t Ruin This Opportunity

Let the Influencer Drive

I’ve seen advertisers take some pretty self-destructive actions over the last year – but one of the most damaging is the attempt to control the content.

Sure, you can set some guidelines on an image size, or ask for some keywords to be included in a post – but when you try to direct the influencer to create what you want them to create, you negate the whole point of this strategy.

We’ve already established the fact that influencers create better content than you. Let them.