I think it’s a lot of fun to see things from the brand side. Ok so maybe it’s the only vantage point I’ve had, but I still find it fun. One of the things that I like about my job is that I get to meet influencers. I kind of think that everyone is an influencer in their own way, simply because we all have an effect on people we interact with. I enjoy meeting influencers because I generally like hearing about what they do, what their views are, and I like getting to know the person behind the avatar. But while I do enjoy meeting new people and making new friends, as a representative from a brand I feel that it’s necessary to be selective of which influencers we partner with.
The key word here is partner. If brands view the influencers they work with as partners, then being selective makes a lot of sense. A partner, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “one of two or more people, businesses, etc., that work together or do business together”. Together they are seen as one, each as extension of the other. If that’s true, then the influencer that a brand chooses to work with, or partner with, is seen as the extension of the brand. That means that however people view the influencer, will be how they might view the brand. I’m pretty sure that this is nothing new, so let’s take it one step further.
Before Partnering With Influencers
I’m sure brands research and investigate the influencers they choose to work with, and if they don’t they should. And when doing that research I’m sure that brands will find out who an influencer’s audience is, what networks they are on, how big their reach is, and how engaging they are with their followers. Klout, Kred, and Peer Index help evaluate how influential someone is and what topics they’re influential on. And while we all know that we love scores and numbers and see how influential people are on a scale, the numbers don’t really tell you who they really are. Those social measuring sticks are great for the first pass evaluation, but when it comes to selecting an influencer to partner brands should look at each of the influencers networks individually to see what they’re posting and engaging on for themselves. As a last step before final selection, brands should really get to know who they intend on partnering with in person. And I’m not just talking about a one-time meet and greet, I’m really recommending that brands look to build relationships first with influencers they would like to partner with.
It’s All About Perception
The reason why I recommend this is because social media is really all about perception (thank you Justice Mitchell). If a brand chooses to partner with an influencer, what that influencer says and does and how he or she chooses to act will also reflect the brand. Don’t believe me? Just ask A&E about that with Phil Robertson, or IAC with Justine Sacco, or ask the execs from The Bachelor about the comments Juan Pablo made. It doesn’t matter how each individual intended the message to be, it’s how everyone watching and reading understood it. It also doesn’t matter if the public reaction for each of these situations was fair, the fact is that it’s how the public reacted. So brands, be selective about the influencers you choose to partner with. When you do choose someone, have a full understanding of who that influencer is and what they stand for. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.