How to Get Started with Influencer Marketing (Featuring Epic Signal’s Brendan Gahan)
Last month, influencer marketing platform gen.video released a report which covered the upcoming influencer marketing trends of 2017. In the report, gen.video noted over 45% of surveyed brands plan to spend more money on hiring and working with influencers on video content and brand deals in the coming months.
Do you plan to be one of them? You should, as levering influencers’ clout over their audiences in a genuine way is one of the best ways to reach new markets and audiences. I asked Brendan Gahan, founder of influencer marketing and social video management agency Epic Signal, to explain the power of influencer marketing and to provide some tips on how businesses like yours can get started with the marketing strategy in 2017.
Bree Brouwer: Why is influencer marketing such a powerful promotional method?
Brendan Gahan: Influencer marketing is powerful for a few reasons. It’s incredibly efficient — influencers are creatives, content producers, and media outlets. One person can do the work of, what used to take dozens of people and organizations.
Furthermore, the direct line of communication and relationship that creators can build up with fans is incredibly powerful. For a lot of people the relationship they have is far more than that as a fan, but more akin to a friendship (this is something that I’ve explored on my own blog). As a result, the amount of engagement they can generate is through the roof — fans go to premieres, buy product, attend meetups, and more based on what these creators say and recommend. The relationship is real, and it can be very strong.
BB: When is bringing in an influencer to promote your brand appropriate?
BG: In working with influencers, it’s best to work with them early and often. A mistake a lot of brands who are new to the space make is that they come to a creator with a fully-baked idea that they want the creator to simply execute upon — this is all wrong.
At Epic Signal, we’re huge proponents of onboarding influencers in person far beyond a campaign goes live. Developing a meaningful relationship is far more impactful than just emailing back and forth.
Like most things, the more you are invested in something, the more likely you are to do a great job. You want creators to get excited about a brand partnership and you want them to make it their own so that they create something amazing that their fans will love. Now, this obviously doesn’t mean let them do whatever they want; what I mean is bring them into the briefing process. Immerse them into the brand and provide them exclusive and exciting experiences they can share with their fans.
BB: How can a brand find or match up with an influencer who supports the brand’s ideals and message?
BG: Research, research, research.
Pairing the appropriate influencers to the right campaign and brand is both art and science. When we work with brands we first spend a lot of time thinking about the overarching campaign and distill the message we want to communicate and outcomes we want to generate.
From there we work with the brand to put together an influencer criteria comprised of both qualitative and quantitative metrics. We identify the demographic we want to reach, their interests and relevant verticals, the platforms, the engagement rates we need, etc. Based on this, we then go out and pull together a broad list of creators which we present to the client. We walk through each one, review a sampling of their content and bios together, then decide who makes the most sense. From there we reach out to creators and gauge their level of interest, excitement, availability, etc.
BB: What is the best way to ask an influencer to do a brand deal with you? What might a fair deal look like?
BG: The best way to ask an influencer about a brand deal is to be upfront. I personally like jumping on the phone so that I can walk through the ask and address any questions that they may have. However, being transparent about deliverables and the ask is best. The clearer you can be about the deliverables the better off everyone will be in the long run.
Ultimately, a fair deal is the one that makes everyone happy — it results in great content for the fans, the creator feels rewarded, and the brand gets content and results they need. What that ultimately looks like from a monetary standpoint can vary dramatically. If a creator is more well-known among brands they’re going to be able to charge a premium and vice versa.