Building an Influencer-Driven Content Program is About Creating Partnerships

In 140 characters or less, in one- to two-minute videos, in strategically angled photos and the power of the Internet, a slew of digestible content has made its way into our everyday lives, and the PewDiePies and Donald Trumps, for better or worse, have become the gatekeepers to every marketers’ treasure trove.

In the age of alternative facts and one-minute content life spans, as marketers, it’s become increasingly difficult to reach and maintain audiences. Enter, the influencers.

A direct product of social media, influencers have created connections to subsets of audiences and, as such, have been identified as “experts” in their various fields. One of the many advantages to influencer partnerships is the creation of original content from an already branded and “trusted” source.

Here are a few things you should consider when creating an influencer-driven content program:

The Content and Message

As with any good content program, identifying what type of content you want (articles, photos, videos, etc.), how much content you need, what you’re trying to say, and how you want to say it are all crucial first steps. After figuring out your content needs and messaging, you can better identify which influencer best matches your program strategies. And the key to selecting a good influencer depends on the type of partnership you want to create.

Developing a Partnership over an Employment

Like with any relationship, you have to accept the influencer for who they are and work towards a common ground. Devising a topic strategy that incorporates your brand into an influencer’s narrative creates a more authentic voice. Developing a partnership means accepting the influencer’s brand while maintaining yours.

For Gap’s campaign, last season, the clothing retailer enlisted fashion influencers with varying styles and body types. Each influencer incorporated pieces from Gap’s latest line into their wardrobe and posted photos of their outfits on social media. Dubai-based photographer Conél van Zyl showcased her functional, work-friendly style by layering pieces while lifestyle writer Cat Juan Ledesma opted for cozy, classic pieces that last season after season. It’s important to allow influencers to express themselves through your brand just as you would want every consumer to incorporate your products into their everyday lives. And, keep in mind, an unhappy influencer can be an unproductive one.

Remember, an influencer works in partnership unlike a traditional content creator, who might be treated more like an employee.

The Voice and Brand

With that said, each influencer has already developed their own voice and brand. This has been the key to their success and the reason many of their followers have joined their legion. As a content creator, your influencer might consider working within certain restrictions of your brand. Perhaps they opt to eliminate all swear words or dress more conservatively or in your brand’s gear. Either way, an influencer that remains true to his or her own brand brings more value to your brand. How? By staying true to what captured their audience to begin with. No one likes a sellout.

Now that Allen and I are parents we are making more of an effort to live a clean & eco friendly life. And it all starts with the little things such as the products we use everyday. Although we want people to continue #drivingdirty to help save water in California, I’m happy that @VolvoCarsUS is introducing an eco-friendly car wash solution called Consciously Clean. I'm that girl who rarely washes her car (anyone else like me? 🙋🏻), but when I do I cringe by all the toxins that are used and all the water that is wasted. It's the little things that we do that makes the biggest difference. 🌎 Edited: After seeing all the comments I wanted to clarify… I'm not saying that I'm perfect and live a complete 100% eco friendly life, but since I've become a mom I have become more aware of the toxins that we use everyday. I'm only human and striving to become better everyday, and that is the message I wanted to send to you guys. By all means I did not mean that I was perfect..I still have a long ways to go. Thank you for your support and for understanding

A post shared by Chriselle Lim 🌟 임소정 (@chrisellelim) on

Take, for example, when Volvo decided to enlist fashion expert, model and blogger Chriselle Lim to post a photo with one of their cars. In the caption, Lim, who regularly posts about fashion, beauty trends, her travels and family, wrote about being eco-friendly emphasizing that as a mom she strives to live life cleaner. Fans began questioning exactly how eco-friendly the car was, which prompted Lim to write an edit to her photo saying perhaps she isn’t 100 percent eco-friendly, but tries her best. A car isn’t really something that Lim regularly posts about and fans were quick to notice the endorsement. So, it’s important when selecting influencers to make sure their brand goals and content are in line with yours.

As content creators, influencers are a powerful assets when leveraged correctly. Developing mutually beneficial partnerships over employment is key to creating a successful program. Next week, see how to leverage your influencer partnership’s marketing power.