Here are some tips companies and small business can use when working with influencers when it comes to product sponsorship. It's a checklist of things you should go through before working with an influencer.
Who am I and why am I writing this?
I've worked with big and small companies for almost a decade as an influencer. I've reviewed artbooks, art supplies and tech products. By the way, I hate the word influencer and I don't consider myself an influencer. I'm just someone who has a blog and makes some (2,000+) videos on Youtube. You can probably call me a blogger, artist or visual content creator all of which are more accurate.
I'm writing this to help businesses understand influencer marketing, and how to find the right influencers and work with them. This benefits businesses obviously since they can get their products in front of not just more people, but the right audience. This also benefits influencers because you want to have your products in the hands of more deserving influencers.
This article should also help influencers get into the mindset of businesses.
Finding the right influencer
First step to finding the right influencer is to understand your objective. Do you want to reach more people or do you want to reach your target market, or in the best case scenario, both.
If you want to reach more people, you only have to find influencers with a large following. If you want to reach your target market, you need an influencer that's focused on the same niche as your product.
There are certain numbers and engagement you can see publicly, e.g. things like number of followers, average view count for the recent videos (grouped by video type), number of comments from people, whether the influencer replies to comments, how people respond to product videos, and sometimes the geography of where the viewers are from. You can use Socialblade to find some of these numbers.
For numbers you cannot find publicly, you have to request them from the influencers. And here are the additional, if relevant, questions you may want to ask:
- Where are your viewers from? Subscribers? Search?
- What's the gender breakdown of your viewers?
- What's the age group breakdown of your viewers?
- What's the engagement rate? Watch time?
The allure of getting a free product to review is tempting. Influencers can be tempted to accept a product to review even if they can sense that it's not a good fit for their audience.
Some influencers may be inexperienced and don't know what they should do with product sponsorship, and hence cannot provide the best value for businesses, or help businesses reach their objectives. Some businesses are also new to influencer marketing and don't know what to expect or do.
You as the business owner should look at the numbers, data and info to decide whether the influencer is suitable to market your product.
Mention the budget
It would be great to mention the company's budget for projects, and the list of deliverables expected.
Mentioning the budget upfront removes the ambiguity and saves time for both the company and the creators.
If the influencer can't work within the company's budget for whatever reason, you can ask the influencer to introduce his/her friends who may be suitable for the job.
What if you don't have a budget
What if you don't know how much to set for your budget? Or an influencer has charged a certain amount but you're not sure if the amount is justified.
First understand that an influencer charging $1000 can be considered a good deal, and an influencer charging $100 can be a bad deal. Ultimately, it comes down to whether it's worth the money spent, and more specifically whether you can make back the money you spend.
In this case you may want to work backwards with math by looking at the return on investment you expect.
Here's a simplified example.
Let's say you're a company that sells computer monitors. Each monitor can earn you $200 in profit (revenue - expense). You definitely need the influencer to tell you how much reach an ad will get. Let's say the ad will reach 10,000 people, and 5% will convert to click to your webstore, and 1% (5 people) of those who click will buy. It means that ad that reached 10,000 people can earn you $1,000.
There are many variables that affect how a budget can be set.
For example, a tech influencer will have a higher conversion rate for tech-related ads. Ideally, you want to market your product to a focused group. E.g. If you sell tech products, don't talk to sports influencers. Or sometimes you just want to market your product to the general audience to get more awareness.
What's important is to check the past posts made by the influencer and see the amount of reach for each post made. Also note that when people see content that's an ad, the reach will be lower. E.g. Influencer may have 10,000 average views per post, but when an ad is posted, audience are smart enough to avoid the ad and the actual reach may be much lower. But if you look through past posts and most are ads, you can get a more accurate expectation of how much reach an ad can get.
Other variables that affect how much budget you can set is of course the profit you expect. If you're selling low valued items, you'll make less profit and hence you'll need to spend more money to pay influencers with a huge following so that you can earn by volume.
Have a list of deliverables
It's crucial to prepare a list of deliverables for the influencers so that they know what to expect from the product sponsorship agreement. The deliverables will also prevent misunderstanding.
In the deliverables, these are info you should include if relevant:
- Where should the sponsored post appear? IG, FB, YT, Twitter?
- When should the sponsored post be up?
- What should the audience do? Any call to action?
- What are the links to your product or online store?
- Is there going to be any writeup?
- How long will the sponsored post be up?
It's important to let the influencer know whether you are sponsoring a featured ad or a product review.
In a featured ad, you just have to talk about the features. In a product review, you have to point out the pros and cons.
Businesses that don't like product flaws mentioned should just go with product placement or featured ads. If you're looking for a product review, then you have to respect the influencers' opinions on your product. Businesses may ask for an advanced view of the review and reviewers may agree or not agree to that. Everything is negotiable. Having a look at the review prior to publication allows the company to check for errors. This may not be necessary if you're working with an influencer who has been review related products for years.
What you want to avoid is to have a review amended to the extent that it looks like a featured ad. Audience looking for reviews expects some level of objectivity. A review is supposed to help potential customers figure out whether a product is suitable for them. When a review is micro-managed to the extent that it feels like a featured ad, viewers will sense something is off and wonder what the company is trying to hide.
Have a contract
Having a contact with the list of deliverables clearly listed out can help prevent miscommunication. To ensure the project proceed smoothly and on time, communication is important.
It's also best to mention how payment is going to be processed. Will there be a deposit. Do you pay the full amount instantly upon delivery of the project, or pay 2-4 weeks later? Will you be paying by cheque, bank transfer or other means? E.g. When handling projects with the government, you may need to sign up as a government vendor before you can accept payment. Some companies may pay only to business bank accounts instead of personal bank accounts.
Having all the information listed upfront makes it easy for all parties involved to make decisions.