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Briefing influencers: How to prevent it from going terribly wrong
Influencer marketing is a useful tool for any brand that wants to build awareness and tap into new audiences through piggybacking individuals (influencers) with existing loyal followers. A survey shows that 49% of consumers depend on influencers when making purchasing decisions, highlighting the conversion power behind this form of marketing in getting customers to your business.
Although working with influencers can boast significant benefits and generate the right results, it’s also possible for it to go wrong. A YouGov poll found that 96% of people do not trust influencers – most commonly due to misinformation or wrong product fit, and so doing your research and getting it absolutely right from the start is vital to engage customers and build that trust.
Influencers are people with personal brands to represent and opinions about what makes great content. There’s always the risk that their priorities and preferences may entirely differ from yours, so it is essential to have unity between both you and any influencer you work with to ensure any content created sits with your brand image and goals.
Creating a brief that clearly outlines your requirements for influencer content will set expectations from the off. With this, the influencer will have a guide to follow when crafting their content on your behalf, aligned to your audience, brand values and the objectives you want to fulfil.
Below, we have put together a handy guide of everything you should include in your influencer brief to get content consistent with your brand.
Start with the basics
Once you have researched your desired influencer, checked out the type of audiences following them and decided that they are a potential fit for your brand, you will be ready to start your briefing process. When creating an influencer brief, it’s best to start with the basics. This includes who you are as a company and what you offer in terms of products and services. This is especially important if there’s any chance the influencer doesn’t already know who you are.
Within this section, you will want to explain your business’s vision and values, including what you stand for and the image you want to convey to the public. This will provide an accurate view of your company or brand, ensuring that the influencer tailors their content to mirror your values. By making sure that the influencer is as well informed as possible, you can prevent critical mistakes – such as when Oprah Winfrey promoted a Windows Surface laptop from an Apple iPad. Instant cringe!
You’ll also want to supply your brand logo along with any other graphic or image assets in case the influencer needs to incorporate it into their content. This will help to ensure a consistent quality of brand look and feel.
The value proposition
Next, you need to state the offer or proposition that is core to the campaign you intend to run. This needs to be covered off in three ways:
- How the campaign will offer ‘value’ to your audience – what is the product or service that is being promoted, what can the customer expect to receive and how your product/brand will meet their needs.
- How the campaign will help your business – the goals you are looking to fulfil by running this campaign, such as increasing awareness or targeting specific audiences. What does success look like?
- How the campaign will help the influencer – where the product or brand synergises with their personal brand, how it will translate with their existing audience following and the type and level of engagement they might expect to see.
By marking out the value that all parties stand to gain, and how those needs will be fulfilled, you can hope to achieve full buy-in and commitment from the influencer. This will allow them to craft their content in a more focused manner, aligning all parties and increasing the chances of a mutually beneficial output.
In the example below, we see plant-based milk brand Alpro worked with Lucy Watson, a former reality star. The messaging (including #plantpower and #goodforyou) aligns with Alpro’s goal of being a healthy, vegan-friendly substance, whilst fitting in with Lucy’s stance as a prominent vegan role model.
This is where you outline what you want to achieve through the collaboration. For example, are you promoting a new product launch? Are you trying to enhance the visibility of your brand in general? Are you trying to target a specific market?
Understanding these objectives matters for two reasons. Firstly, it will ensure you select influencers who can help you realise them. Secondly, providing insight into your goals will allow influencers to comprehend what you want to achieve and refine their output accordingly.
You may even want to explicitly outline how you see the influencer supporting you in your goals – such as if their following sits within the market you want to target. Where possible, you should use trackable metrics to analyse the impact during and after the campaign to check what the genuine implications were. Let the influencer know what these are, so they can also track against them.
Providing your objectives will enable you to bring them on board with your vision and create an atmosphere for collaborative content that drives the results you want.
You must outline the audience you are aiming to engage with as part of your influencer brief. As mentioned at the beginning of this section, when researching and selecting someone to work with, you should have already checked that their following and reach directly aligns with the consumers you want to target. So, include information about how these fit together to help the influencer understand what their content should achieve and the value it can provide for their fanbase. The better targeted this is, the more you all stand to benefit.
Try to offer as much detail as possible about your customers. This could include the buyer personas you have created, based on semi-factual insight about them, and the pain-points they may face. You should also explain how your brand and offering will directly address those pain-points and appeal to them.
By providing in-depth insight into your intended audience, you will empower your influencer to build their content around this and guarantee engagement from the right people.
Your brief should carefully outline what exactly you expect in terms of output. This will usually align with your objectives and how much you are willing to invest in your influencer campaign.
State how much content you expect to be created and on what platforms. For example, influencers may have followings on various channels, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Twitch and blogging sites. Define which of these you want the promotion to feature on, emphasising those you believe will deliver the most traction for your brand. Once you have set the channels, determine how much content you want – whether it’s one post, a series of posts or a post accompanied by stories or other short-form content.
If you are requesting multiple content pieces, set out the timeline for these, including the running order and how far spread apart they should be.
You might also want to explicitly brief what type of content you want, such as specific blog or video formats (such as product reviews, Q&As or ‘day in the life’ style content). However, remember to keep the balance of collaboration right – influencers will often want to have some creative freedom, so being too prescriptive might lead to tension.
Whilst influencers will use their own style of writing, since that is what their customers expect, you will want to provide content guidelines. These dictate the terminology, key messages, features and benefits relating to your brand, product or service.
You do not want an influencer describing your product inaccurately; providing mixed messages to customers; or infuriate the Office of Trading Standards – so do clearly highlight the terms you wish them to use when talking about your offering. Misrepresentation may also result in legal action.
Under this remit, you may also want to provide any keywords, phrases or hashtags that you want to be used. This includes branded hashtags and slogans to create unity across your brand-hosted content and influencer content. List these out clearly in the brief so the influencers know to utilise them.
Depending on the channels you are posting to, visuals will likely be a significant aspect of your influencer content. Just as with copy, you want to make sure this aligns with your brand vision and creates the right associations about your offering.
If you have specific photography or images you want to be used, make sure this is included in the brief. High-res imagery should be provided to enable influencers to create high-quality content, as opposed to blurry or grainy photographs that are hard to work with and make your brand look unfavourable.
If the influencer takes care of the visual side, consider creating mood boards or mock-ups that demonstrate the look you want. This could also include looking at existing examples from competitors or other influencers to provide a reference point.
Influencers often have aesthetic themes on their social media feeds, so they will likely want the content to match. Bear this in mind and consider how your brand can fit within this.
The practical bit
Every brief needs to contain the commercial element – how you will be paying the influencer for their work. This may vary from person to person, with more established influencers expecting a higher paycheque. Alternatively, some may be happy to work with you in exchange for a gifted product or freebie.
Scope out the payment by considering how much work you are asking for, how big a following the influencer has and what the industry average is. It is essential to get the balance right to get value for your money whilst still incentivising an influencer to partner with you.
In this section, you also need to set a deadline for the content. This is particularly important if there’s a key date you are looking to target, such as a product launch or public holiday. Make sure the deadline is realistic and clear.
Outlining the practicalities in the brief matters as it creates an expectation on both sides. This will make sure everyone is on the same page and avoid disputes later, such as if a deadline is missed or payment is delayed. Such disputes can cause reputational damage for your brand if the influencer should speak out against you publicly – so you naturally want to do everything you can to create an agreed legal contract that suits all parties.
Disclosure of sponsored content
This is a critical part of any brief. Under Advertising Standards Agency rules, posts that have been paid for in any way must be disclosed to the public. With the disarray between influencers and consumer trust, it is even more vital to be upfront and honest about sponsored content.
When an influencer posts on your behalf, make sure they include wording that lets readers know that they have been paid for the content, such as a ‘gifted’, ‘ad’, ‘affiliate’ or ‘paid’ tag.
Posts that do not disclose their sponsored nature can negatively affect the brand and influencer alike. In the event of a complaint, the ASA will investigate your advert, and if they find it breaches the rules, you will be asked to change or remove it entirely. In extreme cases, the ASA can apply sanctions that make it public knowledge that you have breached consumer standards. Beyond this, you will also likely receive backlash from the public and damage your credibility.
Thus, it is essential to include in your brief that the influencer must use appropriate wording and check that they have done so once the post goes live. This will prevent any harm to your reputation or legal action and allow the content to remain visible long-term. You might also want to include a clause here that you have final sign-off to avoid such errors.
Common mistakes to avoid
A practical and clear brief should explicitly define expectations for you and the influencer, so content is created according to plan and in line with brand values. However, there are some common mistakes to avoid in order to allow for a harmonious relationship between you and the influencer:
- Find the balance between control and freedom. Naturally, you want to have some say over the content that goes out on behalf of your brand to make sure it fits your objectives and give the right impression. However, do remember that influencers are creative professionals who have built their following for a reason and understand what works well. So, aim to work collaboratively rather than dictate, so you can both have valuable input to the content.
- Ensure clarity. We’ve already touched upon the need to be transparent throughout your brief, but it truly is essential to make sure everybody is aligned ahead of a campaign. Be as explicit as possible to leave no room for misinterpretation – this will keep content on brief and prevent trouble.
- Select your influencer carefully. You should only work with people who are sensible brand ambassadors. Beyond this, you need to choose influencers who are reliable, share your values and will do an adequate job. If you have heard rumours that a particular person is unprofessional or challenging, think twice before connecting with them. If it all goes wrong, it is your money and brand reputation at stake – so do what you can to preserve it.
Influencer marketing boasts powerful results for businesses, but it also carries the risk of brand inconsistency, alienation of audience and mistrust. Doing it properly is key to reaping the benefits without experiencing the problems, and this is why your brief matters.
By creating a brief that covers the various aspects of your campaign, clearly defines who you are as a brand and how you want to engage customers and manages expectations, you will set the foundation for a valuable partnership.
With this, you can enjoy increased visibility, higher conversion rates and favourable marketing results with influencer content that is impactful, compelling and in sync with your goals.