Working with social media “influencers” is not as exciting as it used to be. In Africa along, the number of them has multiplied exponentially. Some have corrupted the system by buying followers, while others push their own merchandise (stuff they would never use in real life). What’s more – audiences are getting smarter to inauthentic posts.
Where does the problem lie? The social media influencer? The brand? The type of transaction itself? The sometimes poisoning direction of the business transaction, which is currently FROM the brand TO the influencer, as follows:
- Brand wants to market a product and they need eyes on it.
- That celebrity influencer has a huge following, so brand explores how much it’ll cost to get the celebrity to post something about their product.
- Influencer posts.
- Brand pays influencer
But flipping this model around, offers a more authentic and sustainable partnership.
Influencer-driven brand alliances are inherently authentic.
When an influencer approaches a brand with the hope of landing a spot on their list of influencers, at least one of the following is likely true:
- The influencer likes the brand, uses the brand.
- The influencer believes in the brand and what it stands for.
- The influencer’s fan base is more likely to collide with that of the brand.
With all the brands in the world to choose from, the obvious choice FROM the influencer TO Brand means authenticity is built in to the relationship / partnership. It transforms the model from “influencer campaign,” which is from the brand’s perspective, to “endorsement campaign,” which is obviously in the interest of the brand, but it’s also in the interest of the influencer.
The last thing an influencer wants is to lose their fans/followers by sharing irrelevant posts. People are following them for a reason. There’s an invisible, non-articulated pact between followers and influencers and when followers smell a rat, they’re probably right.
Further, and particularly when a celebrity “believes in the brand and what it stands for,” it means the activation of these deals becomes evidence of the celebrity’s own beliefs, or evidence of his/her own brand.
How can influencers position their own brand so potential allied brands can more obviously see the connections?
Where possible? Meet in person (or phone call) to “unpack” the vision, brand alliances and define brand pillars.
Dear Influencers. Don’t say, “Hey, Company X. Want to sponsor me?” But instead try, “Hey Company X. You and I share a passion for tourism and adventure cross country. Keen to collaborate to our shared audiences?” Huge difference.
Eliminate these false, random acts of “sponsorship” and instead land meaningful brand “alliances” and collaborations that work hard for both parties. You’ll also find influencers with fewer “audiences” are likely to have a more loyal and authentic audience. They are more relatable and more likely to convince audiences to participate with their brand partner.
The aim is to be authentically influential. Audiences follow authencity and appreciate branded collaborations that speak to truth.