Blinded by the #Ad

Every article of 2017 was how to use influencers in 2018, the rise of the micro influencer, or how to keep it authentic...and the Elle Darby blag gate which put the spotlight back onto the arguement that bloggers just want freebies.

It's crazy to think that YouTube is part of our daily life and that more and more of us consume online than ever before. With the rise of influencers the shift of brands taking advantage of niche or mass online audiences is bigger than ever. For the generation of kids growing up now they need to understand that it's not all what you think online and not be sucked into buying merch, a £50 advent calendar Zoella?? 

I am stereotyping here, but some influencers want more than just freebies they also want masses of brand deals that 'fit' with their content but not too many as this won't look authentic, for you not to call them bloggers/ millenials/ gen z etc. more like content creators and that vlogging is a real full time job.

There are lots of influencers who know how to play the game, the one who always likes your posts or regularly sends you snaps of when they are casually using the product you sent them pleasing PRs and brands all round. It does help you get recognised.  Brands are still being told what influencers to use and what impact it may have, but the results differ for many reasons...

It's not about fancy algorithms that find the perfect influencer based on stats or engagement levels. It's about researching who is the right fit for your brand and does their content fit in with your product or service? Do you want a particular type of profile using your product or want to gift everyone? There are two routes to go down either paid for activity or organic gifting the only difference is one option is guaranteed exposure.

The route of paying a Youtuber, Celeb, influencer, blogger whoever sometimes a pay cheque is not enough to secure a deal. Being the influencer you want to stand by what ads you want to endorse and how authentic you want to look, as a brand your top choices may not want to work with you. Other than money other leverage could be that you're offering a money can't buy experience like exclusive product launches or once in a lifetime opportunities like getting to meet Beyonce etc... If it is something they like or want to do this will come across in the content and their audience will be more inclined to believe the authenticity of the post (even if you are paying them). A collaboration product is also a good idea for many reasons, as having a face of the product and the influencer directly selling the product for you is a bonus, as many will have industry friends who they can gift from them personally. See below a great example from top beauty blogger Lydia Elise Miller who has just launched in collaboration with Boots for an exclusive beauty case full of Elizabeth Arden products. 

Take the post on the left from another UK Youtuber Patricia Bright, and if you haven't guessed yet she is promoting the new Google Home in pink of course. If you've read the comments so far no-one mentions the brand she is selling. In the eyes of the brand they've ticked the box that her 838k (April 2018) have seen the product. For a post like this on Insta and her channel you're looking at anything from £5k, but is that money well spent? Most of her posts get on average 70-80k likes this post falling way beyond her usual. The ones on her feed that get the most likes are posts with her actually in it. She also doesn't post tech products and her audience definitely don't follow her for reviews on a Google Home.  Google have money to blow but on this occasion haven't researched her audience enough and probably just looked at the stats. 

Increase your brand getting a mention

If you are going to gift your product and get into the hands of the most influential who will make your sales and publicity shoot up there are lots of things to consider. If you have a direct contact or email that is the best place to start and if someone accepts the gift they are more likely to want the product and most importantly be expecting it. Think about what they might post is there some novelty behind it or something no-one has. Gifting is also a waiting game as talent are not always taking in parcels from agents/assistants etc. so keep checking in not pester but gently nudge to see if they have received the item in the first instance. Remember that most influencers will not guarantee anything in return for gifting but if you follow some of the ideas below it will increase your percentage in getting an organic mention thus making you as a brand look more authentic and creating a long-term relationship. Winner all round!  

Personalisation - Taking the time to personalise an item shows that you have chosen to send it specially to that person.

Fun - See below the Pinata from beauty brand Too Faced, great way to providing a novel package with a new product launch. It provides a way to put the fun back into the product and gives the influencer an idea for content too. 

Opportunity - This could be a special moment in someones life, maybe just announced a promotion, baby news, new house, mentions your brand in a song etc. This needs a quick reaction as the moment may pass for the opportunity. 

Interest - If someone has a love to biscuits sending a hamper full of their favourites, fitness fanatic full of work out gear, trying a Vegan diet, maybe a Marmite fan. This can be anything you find out that person has a love for #Brandspotting #BrandWatch Check out some on our Instagram page of who we've spotted.  

Lily Pebbles

London based beauty & fashion blogger Lily Pebbles is a non offensive vlogger who I like to call the 'plain lifestyle' influencer as you can pick her for almost any brand to endorse minus alcohol as these type influencers don't want to risk not having a family friendly image. Others include Olivia Purvis,Emily Canham, Estee Lalonde, Poppy Deyes etc...

Out of all the tiles what brand is the sponsored post? If it took you longer than 3 seconds you need to up your ad spotting skills. Kellogs K! The most prominent brand within her Instagram feed, which you could say looks quite organic with her eating a bowl of cereal right? Some of the comments below.

The argument here is that many believe Lily wouldn't choose a sponsored post if she didn't like the product? Influencers were built on reviewing or using products they stand by with their honest opinions, because they weren't paid to say what they like. The lines are now blurred and the comments represent how some of us feel about #ads. The stand out comment that sums it up 'what's real and what's paid for' highlighting the argument that paid for content isn't real but as Lily points out herself she doesn't see any less value. 

To be continued...

Some brands choose not to gift or pay a celeb which is also a coy plan to increase desirability so choose wisely on how you want your brand to play out. Too much gifting can look desperate as I haven't gone a day with out seeing a Pretty Little Thing ad! As a customer myself I lookout for all of these things and I want to build a genuine belief in a brand's offering and do I care enough to find out more than just their Instagram post.

My predictions... Influencer marketing is now a solid part of the marketing/PR  plan whether you believe in it or not it's here to stay. With the ASA cracking down on #ad or #spon posts I am sure another rule will come out making these so called ads clearly defined, whether they are an ambassador or being gifted for example. Brands have a lot of decisions to make and not all brands will have the same strategy when it comes to influencers. One off posts by brands will start to fade out and long-term ambassadors will take over, providing a meaningful relationship for both parties. 

The influencer landscape is an exciting one and my message to brands is do your research and you will reap the benefits.

Hope the hints and tips have helped you to look at the broader landscape of just picking an influencer and thinking more about your PR package. Don't get blinded by the #ad.