Everyone’s jumping on the influencer bandwagon.
There’s probably thousands of meetings happening right now all over the world, set up purely to talk about influencers. Yet so many marketers are struggling to successfully execute their plans. But why is it so hard and how can we make sure we’re one of the few getting it right?
This post is the first in a series on authentic influencer marketing which aims to answer these questions. To kick things off we’ve enlisted the help of Style Lobster founder, Emily Valentine Parr. Emily started her fashion and beauty blog in 2014 and since then she has quickly built up an impressive community of loyal followers, who look to her for advice on the latest makeup trends, product reviews and style inspiration.
Here are her top tips for brands looking to work with influencers.
1. Aesthetics are everything
Essentially I make my living by documenting my life. So if a brand wants to engage with me, everything needs to be considered a photo opportunity. Because to me it is! If you’re sending an email, include a stunning photo of the product. If we’re meeting in a cafe, make sure the lighting is good and the decor is cool. Packaging is a biggy. One of my favourite brands is Pestle Mortar and I love receiving products from them because they present everything beautifully.
Also I recently went to an event for a makeup brush brand. One of the things they did really well was create an amazing display with their products on a marble backdrop so I could just snap away instantly. The brand hashtags and handles were readily available so I could tag them without having to ask anyone.
2. One to one meetings are best for initial briefings
I often attend blogger dinners put on by brands and then I feel a little guilty after, when I realise we’ve barely spoken about the product. But there tends to be less opportunity to do so at those kind of events. If I’m into a product, I like to be able to fire questions at a brand and get all the information. So if it’s the first time you’re reaching out to an influencer, I recommend trying to schedule a face to face briefing.
3. Don’t put words in my mouth
In my experience there are two types of clients. The type that want to place an ad with you. They want to tell you what to say and they want the product shot and styled a certain way. I think when brands try to do this it shows that they don’t respect what that person does. Influencers generally know what works for their community and many of them have been doing it for years. So ultimately brands that choose this approach are doing themselves a disservice because it will more than likely not be as successful.
On the flipside there are brands that approach you and say they want to work with you because they think your aesthetic matches theirs and they like your content. They let you have creative freedom and trust that you’ll create something great. For me the latter is the one I always go with.
4. You have to think long term
Organic content takes time. I recently did a feature about beauty waters and I was genuinely testing one of them for four months because I wanted to do my research and give the products a thorough review. I love creating this kind of content because I don’t have to worry about lead times, deadlines or client approvals. Sadly that means it can’t take priority over my paid for work and therefore it might take a while for coverage to appear. I understand that everyone has pressures and expectations so I think it’s best to be upfront from the get go. If you need the coverage next week, you’re going to struggle to make this happen unless you pay for it.
5. Research your targets
Make sure the influencers you approach reflect your brand ethos and vibe. Look out for other brands they feature. Can you see your brand in amongst them? For example, if your brand sells vintage products, you’re more likely to get a response if you’re contacting someone that you know has an interest in vintage. So it’s worth spending the time before hand to narrow down your list of targets.
6. Be realistic
Consider the size of their community. If they have over 100K followers, remember you’re going to be competing with a lot of brands. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contact them but they’re probably going to be really busy. To put it into perspective, I get about 10-15 emails per day from brands about collaborations and product trials. And there are plenty of bloggers with much bigger followings than me. So if it’s a straight forward email to present your product, assume you’re going to be one of many and therefore they may not respond.
My advice would be to try and make your first contact with them stand out. If it’s an invitation to an event, it should look really appealing. If you’re showcasing your products, perhaps you could include some images from your lookbook instead of plain product shots.
Next up in this series we’re interviewing Olympic triple jumper Nathan Douglas to find out what it’s like to be an ambassador for a major sporting brand. Stay tuned folks!
Photography by Anna Sandul.