Left: VAMP co-founder, Aaron Brooks

Who are influencers and how can they help your business?

Pauline Morrissey

When launching a start-up business, it doesn’t matter how good your brand is, or how quality your product or services are — if not enough people come to find out about your business, the risk of going bust is relatively high.

Yes, you will always have your personal reach to turn to. However, this is just a starting point; if you wish to grow your business, you will need to reach beyond your personal network.

An effective way to achieve this is by partnering with “influencers” through the power of social media. By doing so, this allows individuals within your desired niche to draw in their sphere of influence, which will likely influence others within their circle to draw in their sphere — and on and on it goes.

But who are influencers? Aaron Brooks, Co-Founder of VAMP, a company that connects Brands with Influencers weighs in; “We believe Influencers are everyday people who have worked tirelessly to build up an audience of engaged fans with their personal brand of creativity and their unique point of view. They become influential on social media based on their creativity, talent and the value they provide to their audience.”

When discussing the benefits of these types of business partnerships, Brooks explains; “If you work with "power middle" Influencers or non-celebrity Influencers with audiences in the range of 5000 to 100,000, you will be able to produce multiple and diverse pieces of content, achieve audience reach for far less cost than you would pay for a professional photo shoot.”

“We believe Influencers are everyday people who have worked tirelessly to build up an audience of engaged fans with their personal brand of creativity and their unique point of view."

An example of a successful partnership between the Influencers and the Brand can be found in The Horse; “We don't typically have one key Influencer in a campaign because our campaigns are typically 20 or more Influencers,” says Brooks. “However The Horse, has been able to develop a huge following on Instagram (180K+) and many loyal brand advocates by leveraging the power of Instagram and Influencers who style their incredibly photogenic products.”

“The content that these Influencers have gone on to produce which feature The Horse products, continue to pay dividends for the brand in their social channels, far beyond the initial post in the Influencer's channel.”

“The Horse is an example of one of our clients that has successfully leveraged social media and Influencers to build a very strong brand presence and following which has translated into significant commercial success.”

But what are the considerations before investing in Influencers? Brooks breaks it down to three important factors;

“First and foremost brands really need to consider what the brand objective is. If the brand is looking to generate awareness of their products with key consumer targets and generate cost-effective content for their brand, then Influencer marketing is a great tactic. If they are expecting immediate sales then it might not be the first approach for the brand to employ in social media. Sponsored ads on Instagram/Facebook are more effective at driving qualified website traffic than Influencer marketing alone, but Influencer produced content (photography) in Sponsored ads is much more effective than brand produced creative because it is more authentic to the channel.”

“Secondly, they need to do their homework on the Influencers they are looking to work with. What other brands have they represented? Is the Influencer's personal brand style in alignment with your brand? Do they maintain high engagement rates on brand posts?”

“Thirdly, expect that if you are dealing with multiple Influencers for a campaign that it will take considerable coordination and planning. It's not as simple as just sending out your product. You need to think about contracting, payment, monitoring the posts, collecting the content and amplifying it in other areas.”

All in all, it's best to recruit Influencers that are excited about your brand. Once you have recruited them, let them be the creative directors.

Should a brand consider going down this path, payment for the Influencer’s services should be expected. “Expect to pay them for their creativity and access to their audience, says Brooks. “The days of just sending out product and getting in-demand Influencers to promote it without payment are gone. Additionally, without payment and a contract for the images you most likely won't have the rights to use the images in other channels.”

All in all, it's best to recruit Influencers that are excited about your brand. Once you have recruited them, let them be the creative directors.

“One of the biggest mistakes brands make is trying to art direct or copy write the content. Let the Influencer determine what will do best in their channel. If you choose your Influencers wisely you will benefit by having your brand creatively reflected by the people that are most passionate about your brand and most likely they will continue to use and promote your product because they love it.”

Pauline Morrissey

Pauline is a Sydney-based journalist for Domain and is frequently featured amongst various Fairfax Media mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Image: VAMP Facebook page

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