Is Influencer Marketing A Good Thing? What You Need to Know to Make it Work

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Influencer Marketing is a strategy that has changed the way many brands approach their customers and seek to increase recognition of their brand, increase consumer trust and generate more sales.

However, it is not a simple process, and some brands question if making use of the process is worth the time, effort and expenditure. There are plenty of ‘so-called Influencers’ and ‘fake’ bloggers who, to the untrained eye, could seem to be offering a valuable service and opportunities for your brand, but end up costing the business money, time or resources without seeing the expected results.

The UAE has taken steps to regulate the industry and improve the quality of those offering Influencer services. By requiring Influencers in the UAE to obtain either an Individual or Partnership license, or register with an NMC approved Influencer agency, only those Influencers who are serious about their work and willing to pay the fees are going to do so.

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However, the licensing requirement doesn’t cover all Influencers. The legislation applies to those who are being paid by the company who they are promoting or receive a high value incentive for doing so.
Those who receive free samples, products or complimentary services (such as a free meal) are not affected; brands still need to be cautious of who they approach to determine that they’re working with the right person for their needs.

Why Is Influencer Marketing an Important Tool?

Businesses across the globe have realised that they need to connect with their customers differently if they want to thrive in our digital age. The top four categories where they have begun to focus their advertising mix to connect with their audience are:

  • Social Media (44.7%)
  • Mobile Apps (37.2%)
  • In-Store Experience (31%)
  • Focusing on Influencers (30.5%)
    (Source: Forbes Insights, The Trade Desk – 2018 Survey in partnership with The Trade Desk, Nov 12, 2018)

The focus on Influencers came out ahead of even increased focus on video, which is widely seen as one of the most rapid areas of content marketing. This shows just how important Influencer Marketing is to global business, and why it’s so important to get it right.

When used correctly, Influencer Marketing can give you a cost effective platform that connects you to a wider audience of interested potential customers.

The benefits of Influencer Marketing include:

  • Raising Brand Awareness
  • Creating a ‘Buzz’ About Products and Events
  • Increased Media Exposure
  • Increased Positive Sentiment
  • Enhancing Your Brand Image
  • Engaging New Customers
  • Re-Engaging Previous Customers
  • Cultivating Brand Champions who have Consumer Authority
  • Associates Your Brand with an Influencer
  • Offers a Unique Perspective from a Professional Customer Perspective
  • Identifies Areas of Weakness
  • Improves Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

How Do You Run a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign?

There’s a big difference between running a campaign and having it be a successful one. To achieve success, you need to consider a variety of factors and take steps to ensure that your brand is protected before you can achieve the results you want.

Influencer Marketing is a two-way street, you are working with the Influencer and they are working with you. It’s important that both parties know exactly what is expected, when it is expected, and have clear lines of communication and procedures in place that allow the results to be measured.

To create a successful campaign, you need to:

Develop a Strategy and Know What You Want
Before you start, you need to know what the goal of the campaign is. Are you looking to increase recognition of your brand? Promote a new product? Launch a new menu? Increase sales and bookings?
Your campaign can have more than one goal, such as to drive awareness and increase your sales, but you mustn’t have too many. If you try to do too much in one campaign, you will dilute your message and lose the interest of your customer.

The strategic approach can be roughly divided into three areas:

  • Awareness – Encouraging people to become aware of your brand
  • Pull – Increasing popularity, authority and reputation
  • Conversion – Driving sales or a Call to Action (such as visiting your website)

Once you’ve decided on your goals and know what you’re aiming for, you’ll be able to decide on the strategic areas that are best suited for your campaign.

Create a Shortlist of Candidates and assess them carefully

You need to make sure that the person you’re working with is capable of providing the services you need, is active and engaged, and is a genuine influencer.

The National Media Council issued a list of behaviours that are expected from Social Media users, asking that they:

  • Show respect for the UAE Leadership in posts
  • Refrain from spreading false information
  • Avoid infringing on the privacy of others
  • Abstain from promoting the consumption of drugs, alcohol, gambling, smoking and witchcraft
  • Abstain from publishing any information which is detrimental to the National Currency or Economy

This list provides you with your first checklist. When researching Influencers in your industry, you should look to see if they are adhering to these moral standards. When you work with an Influencer, you are tying your reputation to theirs – it’s essential that you don’t connect with anyone who could potentially harm your brand through association.

A Brief Influencer Checklist to Help You Make Your Choice

To make the most of Influencer Marketing, you need to find the best fit for your brand. When doing your research it’s important that you find the answers to the following questions:

  • How long has this person been an Influencer?
  • If they are a paid Influencer, do they have the appropriate licenses?
  • Do they disclose paid or sponsored content?
  • Do they have an engaged audience?
  • What is their reputation like?
  • Who has worked with them before – and were their previous clients happy with the results?
  • What are other people saying about the Influencer?
  • Have they been involved in any scandals or negative press?
  • Do they genuinely influence your area of the market?
  • Do they genuinely believe in the products and services they endorse?
  • Do their values align with your brand?
  • Does the tone and content of their posts match your values?
  • How many people are they following, and how does this compare to the number of people following them?
  • Are their posts authentically being engaged with?
  • How frequently do they post?
  • Are they community builders?
  • Will they add value to your brand?

Once you’ve completed this list, look through the answers carefully; it will give you a clear idea of who the Influencer is, what their social presence and standing is, and whether you will benefit from working with them.

This should narrow down your short-list of desired Influencers, and then it’s time to reach out to them. Be polite and friendly, let them know what you’d like them to do, what you’re planning on offering for them to do it, and the timescale in which you’d like it done.

Some Influencers may not respond, some may say no, and it’s important to make a note of these people for future marketing strategies – you don’t want to spend time and resources contacting people that aren’t interested in your business.

Once you do get a favourable response, it’s time to put together a framework of responsibility, communication and deliverability.

You Need to Put Together a Contract that Works for You and Your Influencer

When working with an Influencer, it’s a good idea to create a contract – if you only have informal communication to rely on, there is a much higher potential for issues to develop at a later date.

Your contract should cover:

  • Timeframes and Deadlines
  • Agreed upon check-in times
  • Types of Content to be produced
  • Quality of content items
  • Required hashtags, tags and links
  • Guidelines or expectations for the appearance of the content
  • Tone of content
  • Exclusion of competitors when posting
  • Usage rights of content
  • Copyright ownership
  • Non-disclosure agreement
  • Any Company or Moral Restrictions (for example: If you’re working with a foreign Influencer then you may wish to explicitly state the types of content that are not allowed in the UAE – such as mentions of gambling)
  • Disclosure Agreement for Paid or Sponsored Influencers
  • Relevant Licenses Required and Proof of those Licenses (for Paid or Sponsored Influencers)

By creating a contract that covers these areas, you are protecting your brand and also protecting the Influencer. Everyone knows what’s expected of them, what should be provided and when; which means if there are delays or the Influencer isn’t providing the service they have agreed to, you have a formal document which holds them to account.

Influencer Marketing Doesn’t End with the Campaign

Once you’ve done your campaign with your Influencer, you’ll need to spend some time going over the results. If you’ve supported your Influencer and been involved throughout the process, then you should already have a good idea of the level of success you’ve achieved.

However, when reviewing the results, it’s important that you ask yourself:

  • What succeeded?
  • What didn’t succeed?
  • Did the project run smoothly?
  • Were all the deadlines met?
  • Were the right audience targeted?
  • Were there any surprise results (positive or negative)?

To determine this, some of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you might want to look at using are:

  • Quality of content
  • Engagement rates
  • Quality of comments
  • Mentions and Tags
  • Performance of Posts

Finally, you need to ask yourself- was this Influencer the right one for the campaign? The information you gather here will not only help you develop future campaigns, but it can inform your Marketing and Advertising strategies as well. This data gives you up to date insights into your customer, how they respond and what they are looking for from your brand.

Dawn Gribble
Dawn Gribble is the CEO and Founder of Virtual Solutions- a boutique digital marketing agency delivering services, training, and consultancy for hotels and restaurants. She brings over 20 years of F&B and hospitality experience to Virtual Solutions, having worked with award-winning hotels, Michelin star restaurants, international food brands and celebrity chefs. She had appeared on MasterChef and write recipes and reviews for a number of brands. Her food writing has been featured in the Huffington Post, FooDiva and Menuism. As an international speaker, she had delivered talks and workshops at events, such as Social Media Week Dubai, the Restaurant Show, Coffee Shop Innovation, the Middle East Food Forum and the Social Media in Tourism Conference.