Get Influencer Campaign Tips from 5 Experts

This post is an excerpt from our Authentic Marketing Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for brands and influencers to openly discuss tactics for authentically building a strong following. 

Social media is extremely transparent so make sure you're authentic

Q: What are your best social media tips for working with brands?

A: Social media is extremely transparent. You want to make sure there's a certain level of authenticity when you are aligning your brand with that of a larger brand. You don't want to just post a product as an ad, but ask, do you really use that product? And does your brand and that brand align in some way? All of that is important because your viewers will be able to tell. There has to be a level of authenticity whenever you're engaging in a brand partnership. You don't want to come across as if you're just posting an ad. Do you really use that product and is that product something that really aligns with what your core brand is? That’s all-important because social media is extremely transparent and your viewers will be able to tell. –Darren Moulden, Influencer

We look through what's not sponsored to make sure an Influencer matches our brand.

Q: As the agency, how do you put your best foot forward in terms of engaging and making sure there's alignment between you and the things the influencer is passionate about?

A: For me, as an agency, we actually look through the influencers posts, look for ones that aren't sponsored posts, so we can see what they really, truly, organically like. Because, yes, they're going to have sponsored posts that they like but they're also going to have a lot of sponsored posts that they're getting paid for. Always. That’s always going to happen, even if they hope to like the brand. So, we try to look through their posts that aren't paid for and aren’t sponsored and see what they're posting about to make sure that it's authentic and see if it matches our brands. Then we look for who's engaging with their photos. We want to make sure it’s the right person engaging there. So, going to that second and third-degree level. We take some time. Luckily we have some programs that do it but we take some time and actually try to dig into second-degree, third-degree and what everyone's posting and liking. –Nichole Brandt, XOMAD

I think it's important just to point out that if a brand is reaching out to me, there are certain things that I want. Obviously, if they want me to work for them, I hope there is going to be financial compensation or at least something that I'm really interested in actually doing. And likewise, if you’re an influencer reaching out to a brand, you’ve got to be presenting them with some value. You can't just be like, “Man, I want this brand to pay for my trip.” There's gotta be a reason why that brand would want to work with you. So, one thing, especially on travel stuff is, I never ask a brand to pay for the trip for me. I'm already going. I booked the trip and then I just know that I'm going to figure it out. From there, it's more like ‘hey, this is what we're doing, do you want to be a part of it this?’ And then coming up with unique pictures for that brand. –Cole Kilburz, Influencer

Think about unique, specific ways you can incorporate brands into your work.

Q: Describe an experience that you, as an influencer, have liked.

A: I just went to India last month and after traveling to different places where, as a photographer, you take pictures of kids and you show them on the back of the screen and they get excited and then you walk away. I was like, how cool would it be if I could actually print the picture for them on the spot? So, by presenting that to Polaroid, “Hey, I’ve got a cool idea you guys might be into.” They were super stoked on it. But I was bringing them value not just saying, “Hey, will you guys give me money and I post a picture of your camera?” –Cole Kilburz, Influencer

Get the attention of a brand with creative ideas

I think that’s great. Because you are saying, “I have this creative idea. I know what will be really awesome.” And you are making it work for Polaroid. And that’s a good way to get the attention of the brand, and good brands will understand and respect that... As an influencer, the best brand deals that I've got, that I've liked, are when I've used the product and have posted about it because I love the product. And then, if their agency is on top of it, they will hit me up and say, “We love your post.” And I'll get back to them and say, “Yes, I'd like to do something more with you, let's collaborate.” That happens, like seven out of ten of my paid sponsorships came from that kind of experience. –Mike Prasad, TinySponsor

Ambassador program’s make it better for influencers because the influencers are attracting each other's audiences which also makes it better for the brand.

I've heard this term a couple of times today, I really like the direction of it, that would be “brand ambassador”. I'm a brand ambassador for a couple of brands. One thing I like about being an ambassador, more than just an influencer, is it does feel less a one-off and like there’s more of a real partnership there. Ambassador programs usually have a bit more structure to them, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. One thing that’s cool is that their payment structures are built-out. It’s just like, “This is what we pay, for you to do this.” There's none of that back-and-forth and wondering if I should have negotiated more, or whatever. It’s just really nice to know I didn't have to worry about it and you know it’s fair because you know that's what everybody is getting. So, ambassador programs are pretty cool. Also, an ambassador program makes it better for all the influencers because the influencers are attracting each other's audiences and it’s going to be better for the brand, for those same obvious reasons. –Cole Kilburz, Influencer

Finding ways to do engagement campaigns that engage multiple creators together, that's always more effective than doing one-offs

Brand ambassadorships that engage the whole community of other creatives in your space are super useful. –Mike PrasadBrand ambassadorships that engage the whole community of other creatives in your space are super useful. We've done events that bring on other creators. As a brand, you want the exposure but as a creator, you really want more distribution. So, finding ways to do engagement campaigns that engage multiple creators together, that's always more effective than doing one-offs. –Mike Prasad, TinySponsor

Another cool thing that some of these ambassadorships do too, is when I provide them content, they are putting money into promoting it, so I don't have to worry about that. So, that’s like a huge bonus, because not only am I getting paid but somebody else is paying a thousand bucks to promote it on Facebook or wherever. –Cole Kilburz, Influencer

In a brand campaign, there's really only three types of goals. There's going to be: Are you going to build your audience? Are you going to tell your story? Or are you going to drive an action? And different types of posts, different channels, different formats, all have different outcomes to those three things. On the influencer’s side, the creative side, I know my audience super well. I know what they like, I know what they respond to. I could do a sponsored post every single day but as long as I do it right, no one's going to care as long as it's cool. So, I know the creative, I know my audience. I know the format that resonates. So the best campaigns, I think, are the ones that blend the two. Because then, my kind of sponsorship is still authentic but if I know what the goals of the business are, then I can focus on their goals but I have control of the creative. –Mike Prasad, TinySponsor

We pay Influencers within 24 hours of posting to keep a good relationship

Q: Does the agency get cash upfront from your brand clients? How are you working it?A: As an agency, we get paid half up front and half at the end, but if not, then we still pay the influencer. A lot of the influencers we either have a relationship with or another connection with, so they've been really easy to work with. But there are a few who will want payment up front and I'll have them sign a contract and then we only do half pay, and then half pay at the end. Generally, we work with a lot of micro-influencers. Usually with micro-influencers, as soon as they post, we pay them within 24 hours, so they like us because of that. –Nichole Brandt, XOMAD

That's a big difference between a net 30 or a net 60, or something like that for sure. Because I usually do 50% up front, almost always. –Cole Kilburz, Influencer

As an Influencer, payment is 50% pay upfront, 50% after the campaign.

That's actually a good question, for us as a platform and you as an agency, it’s tricky to manage the cash flow. I think if I have an influencer who wants a massive deposit up front then I'm probably not going to work with them. Unless they’re in an interesting category like they're on YouTube and they're creating a show. If you're going on a trip or if you're creating content and you need production costs, I totally respect that. That should take a deposit and we work with that. We also have an escrow, so we hold the money so the brand can't deny them. It’s happened before. As an influencer, I've had brands say they’ll pay me when I post and then I just never got paid. So, I think quickness of payment, trust, but it's hard to scale trust. I think if you are aware, that I'm going to go and, say, build something, it's going to cost me money to do it, to make something, a whole production, then the brand should put some money up front. –Mike Prasad, TinySponsor

Real-time is the future - Instagram and Facebook lives.

Q: What do you think the future is? People have been mentioning VR and AR. What do you think the brands you're working with are thinking will be the next step in ways to engage?Instagram stories and Facebook live are definitely becoming more of a trend. –Nichole Brandt

A: Yes, so, real time. Things like Snapchat, not as much, actually less, but Instagram stories, Facebook live are definitely becoming more of a trend. But as an agency, I'm also having to educate the brands about it, a lot. I know it’s great for the influencers. It makes it so much more authentic, it's real time! Your followers love it and I think that's great and I want the content. But it is definitely going to take educating the brands on it. They're starting to slowly get there but it's going to take some time. They’re a little afraid to move forward into that next step because the metrics aren’t as easy to track without getting screenshots from the influencers. They have to almost screenshot the Snapchat to tell us how many views there were. There aren't ways on the backend to track all that right now so that's the hardest part but I do see it moving forward, eventually. –Nichole Brandt, XOMADI think with the monetization format, the issue is really standards. Like for me on Instagram, a 5% or 10% engagement rate is really great. I'm probably never going to get that on Twitter. So, my value per thousand followers is going to change per platform and it's going to be different for different clients, for a different audience and all this stuff. So, finding ways to set standards across per-channel, but also getting data to support that on an individual transaction basis, I think is what's needed for the industry. Because without that transparency and without that clarity of what is what value, then brands will sponsor people, things won’t work out, they'll get upset, creators won't get paid enough, or vice versa, and then everybody just undercuts everybody and the industry kind of falls apart. So, I think standards are what’s needed for the next step of the industry. –Mike Prasad, TinySponsor