Today, we go all Kanye (read: speak controversial thoughts) and tell a tale, if not as old as time, then at least close to it.
Watson and Crick.
Procter and Gamble.
Lennon and McCartney.
And, of course, Adidas and Kanye.
What do they all have in common? Collaboration. A partnership that led to successful things. It’s a concept that most marketers fail to follow in influencer campaigns.
What you should be doing is letting content creators work from both sides of the camera. That means knocking on the grey matter of influencers, making them real partners in your campaign and leveraging their knowledge.
Why should brands collaborate with influencers?
Influencer marketing is a crucial advertising tool. That remains as unchanging as the love for social media. What has altered, in the past year or so, is the definition of influence.
Until recently, influence was equated with reach – a higher follower number signified more impact. Now, power over users is equal to authority on the subject or creative communication (not just follower count). Why? Because both develop a sense of confidence and trust in followers, compelling them to listen.
So, when you have experts at hand who are implicitly trusted by consumers, then doesn’t it make sense to collaborate with them? And when we say collaborate, we mean include them during campaign ideation rather than laying down the law at the execution stage.
Consider them as an extended creative team
Authentic creators have control over their followers primarily because a) they are relatable, b) they are trustworthy, and c) they are intriguing. In some form or the other, they inspire users to take action. And the likelihood is they have been doing it for a considerable time, which means the creator knows the audience intrinsically.
So, when you treat them as creative directors rather than an ad buy, you assure that a campaign will be successful.
How? Allow us to clarify.
A one-on-one relationship
Think of creators as salespeople who move door-to-door. This one-on-one with consumers gives them knowledge of what type of content resonates and achieves engagement.
The very value of the dynamics lies in how a user engages with the creator. When a brand doesn’t take the creator into account, then, in essence, they eliminate that value. The operative words here are ‘engages with the creator.’
It is the influencer’s power and skill that commands results. Taking the creator out of the equation leaves a brand with an empty basket.
A creator used as a marketing tool without their input is bereft of crucial knowledge on what the relationship looks like, how it operates and its meaning. All three of which are crucial to campaigns that deliver.
Creative freedom equals connectivity
When an influencer is given the liberty to fashion a course of action, they build one that aligns with their ethos. Such posts are analogous to honesty, to which followers respond and consequently establish a connection. But when you keep the content creator out of the creative loop, the campaign has no sincerity and therefore falls flat.
Master of the field
Brand managers, agency directors or marketing professionals are not the ones with 10K to 200K followers (at least typically). It is the content creator who amasses the following because they know how to speak the lingo of their community. They communicate with viewers, listeners, and readers day in and day out, so they are well-versed in them. Shorn of verbiage, creators are the boss of the internet playground.
Proof of the truth that creator collaboration works
A picture-perfect example that collaborating and not merely hiring creators works is Marks and Spencer. The brand partnered with influencers to create new footwear. They did not just rope in the creator to pose with their shoes, sandals, and heels. They gave them “free rein to design.”
Despite the #ad, the post is real AF
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There is an opposite side of the spectrum too. When influencers are asked to place a product in their posts without factoring in how sincere it will appear or what worth it will hold for the followers, this is what happens:
A carbon copy of adverts seen in every print media
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Speak with influencers, not at them, during collaboration
Creators are the souls of their content. They speak to the followers. When brands use socials to reach out to their market, it behoves them to speak along with the influencer, not at the influencer.
Even better is to let them do the thinking, cause brands certainly don’t have the machinery. How do you make that possible? By making the influencer marketing campaign a joint effort not restricted by rigid guidelines and a collaboration where creativity flies unfettered. Always treat them as assets, not as one-time hires who promote your product or service.