How Does A Brand Actually Work With Social Media Influencers?



At SMWNYC, panelists from Nasdaq, Clevver, and Sundae Collective sat down with Bryn Caruso of Julius to discuss what goes into the relationship between influencers, brands, and agencies.

Creator partnerships are mainstream in the marketing world today, but ensuring your work with influencers is effective and authentic is easier said than done. Questions abound: How do brands find the right influencers? What are the terms of their agreement? How do agencies facilitate a partnership where everyone, including consumers, is happy?

At Social Media Week New York, the panel “360 Degree View Of Influencer Marketing” looked to shed light on how established brands can team up with new media stars to achieve their marketing objectives.

Where do you start?

When Bryn Caruso, VP of Sales and Customer Success at Julius, asked the panel how they worked to ensure successful activation, the answers were varied but centered on the theme of matching influencers to brands early on, to avoid later conflict.

“I’m a huge fan of the vetting process on both sides. Both parties need to understand the other’s goals. Audiences are so smart, they can smell something that is fake even to a tiny degree. The goal with branded campaigns is to go above and beyond to prove you are authentic,” said Joslyn Davis, Executive Producer at Clevver.

“It all depends on what you are trying to achieve,” said Josh Machiz, Chief Digital Officer of Nasdaq.  Added Davis, “Always think initially about the goal.”

“Once you identify the talent, give them as much runway as they could possibly imagine. But on the brand side, you know where the edges are,” said Jeremiah Rosen, CEO of Sundae Collective. “Our ideas are well-expressed in the center of the runway. We try to match [influencers and brands] so they feel there are no boundaries.”

Figure out what your agreement can deliver

One reason that influencers and agencies are flocking to Instagram is that it’s simply the hottest social media network out there right now. Influencers rated it as the most relevant and most engaging network of them all. But another reason is that Instagram has excellent insights and information that you can use to target your campaigns and measure your success.

“Having that information is absolutely priceless and helps you navigate who you want to work with,” said Davis.

Once you have an idea of what’s possible, “Underpromise, a little bit,” said Rosen. “From an agency perspective, it’s important to tell a client what they should expect. We do look at historical engagement rates. We’re trying to figure out what’s the right prediction so we’re within the standard deviation of what organic content does.”

Put value on exposure, for all sides

One of the more complicated questions in influencer marketing is how to deal with compensation. How much should an influencer be paid for their time? Is all of their time and effort billable? And what about micro-influencers?

Not surprisingly, each panelist had a different take on this subject. “It’s a give-and-take. Brands draw the line between the exposure versus working for them,” said Machiz, pointing out that for some influencers, screentime from a major brand could be the equivalent of thousands of dollars in advertising.

Davis said that Clevver uses “a good chunk of money” to secure influencers with millions of subscribers, but added, “Something we do have to offer is a whole production studio and access to creating premium content,” which factors into payment.

When determining compensation for an influencer, Rosen recommended asking questions like, “Who is the audience we’re trying to reach?” and “How many people will be affected in a way that we can measure?”

Is influencer marketing disruptive? Not anymore.

Just how close are we to influencer marketing becoming mainstream marketing? According to the panel, we’re already there.

“It’s growing year-over-year so much, it’s close to mainstream,” said Machiz. “A piece of that is the maturity of the influencers. Some now know their worth. Standardizing it will make it a lot easier.”

Davis said that it wasn’t as much the influencers themselves as the tools that had grown up: “The growth of the analytics has professionalized things. Clients can know what they’re getting ahead of the game. In our world it already is mainstream. If you’re not on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, for our audience you don’t really exist. You have to go meet them there.”

Microinfluencers are up next, and what comes after them?

Microinfluencers are a major theme at SMWNYC. While both Machiz and Davis said they expected the use of micro-influencers to increase over the next 12 months, signaling a new era in the influence space, Rosen went a bit further.

“A brand’s ability to identify emerging creators, because of personality, because of the platform they use. A brand’s ability to lock them down, groom them. We’ll see more and more of that as brands see the power of emerging influence,” he said.

Bryn finished the discussion by echoing that note, stating that finding micro-influencers means asking the question: “Who’s hot, but not huge yet?”

With over one million data points and over 100,000 influencers, Julius helps you find the perfect influencers for your campaign. There’s no faster way to discover the right influencers.


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