Strategic Communication is an elegant combination of art and science. It’s making sure that the ways you communicate are aligned with your overall business objectives. At Step In … Learn More...
Here’s a checklist for crisis communicators to assist them in being truthful, succinct, accurate and understandable as they gear up for prolonged crisis communications in anticipating the spread of Covid-19.
Lead with the Headline News
- Start with the items that will reassure and calm the general public. The first broadly communicated information from the CDC unfortunately led with the possibility of widespread closures and then, midway through their communications, stated that the risk to the general public was still low.
- Say it and say it again!
- Many news outlets are live-streaming these events and people come and go throughout the webcast and can miss the important news. If possible, have someone from your team re-stating the key message on the live feed, so they appear as your audience appears.
Create an Information Hub
- It shouldn’t be too hard to create an online information hub. Update as often as possible. In short form communications, always link to the hub for the full story.
- Make the hub easy to read and visual.
Point to Authority Sources
- Who is leading or from whom are you getting instructions? Point to the local, regional or statewide authority. Audiences often believe trusted officials at the local level as they are known faces.
- Here’s one local hub, but it hasn’t been updated for two weeks:
- Here’s the CDC hub with a date stamp right under the headline:
Check All Outgoing Communications
- It may seem like a carnival game of Whac-A-Mole, but as communicators we have to try to correct the most egregious misinformation when it is on our owned or social media sites. You can’t be everywhere, but you can enhance monitoring on your own properties in a professional manner and move people to your information hub.
- Scrutinize your communication pieces more thoroughly – read everything out loud to eliminate jargon and tongue twisters.
- Date and time stamp everything so the newest info is first.
- Prepare to keep repeating your key messages or latest information
- Assign someone to screen all incoming communication
- Take a deep breath.
- Clear your head and clear your desk.
- Wash your hands. You’ll be at this for awhile.
What would you add to this checklist? Drop a comment below to help everyone with their latest crisis challenges. Or share a resource that will help others with better communication.
***Updated with new resources on March 5, 2020***
From Doug Levy, author of Communications Golden Hour, a tip sheet for prolonged crisis:
From Seth Godin, some interesting thoughts on the spread of viruses in general. Good read to center your thinking:
An example of an organization being proactive, without being scary or alarmist:
Associated Press communications guidelines:
Resources about COVID-19
A continuously updated document on meeting cancellations:
A Seattle high school student has build a real time website tracking the virus here: https://ncov2019.live/data
I recently assisted two small business owners with crisis response. While I’m still processing everything that happened for one of them, we could actually see it coming and were able to do several things on social media to prepare for critics bombarding their Facebook page (which they did for 7 straight days!)
This owner posted a response to a tragedy that happened at her place of business. We all thought this would give a bit of closure to everyone involved. Nope.
Within the hour, a very long, inflamed and inaccurate post was shared by someone who was a third party to the tragedy. We starting watching the page very closely. Soon, the mob appeared and started a cycle of heated words, accusations and (wait for it) more inaccurate information.
While the response was complicated and involved, here are the four things we did to mitigate the public outcry.
- Enhanced monitoring on the channel for 48 hours and aggressively remove anything that was clearly profane, spam or plagiarized.
- Used the “three strikes” rule. Any person who posts the same message three times on the page, is banned. This is a common protest tactic and is meant to spike the Facebook algorithm.
- Turned off the Reviews function because they cannot be removed and in crisis, people leaving a rating have rarely used the business. They are merely expressing their discontent.
- Changed the page settings to moderated. So no one could make a post to the wall, only comment on existing posts.
So how can this help you during your next crisis? Now is a great time to check your settings and make sure you know how to turn on and off all these features if and when you need them.
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Twitter lists should be an important part of your 2020 marketing strategy.
What is a Twitter List?
A Twitter list is a curated list of Twitter handles within Twitter that allows you to view the tweets of those within that list only. You can create your own lists or subscribe to one created by someone else.
Public vs. Private Lists
Public lists are just that – public! They are searchable and those you include on the list will receive a notice they have been added. Public lists can be followed, and you can share the URL as a resource for others.
Private lists cannot be seen by anyone but you. The accounts included within the list will not receive a notice they have been added to your list and if someone has the list URL they will not still not be able to view it.
Follow vs. Add
You can add Twitter accounts to your list that you follow already, but you do not have to be following an account to add it to your list. This is a great way to keep your follower list down but still be able to keep up with all the accounts that interest you.
For more specifics on how to create, add, edit Twitter lists.
Ways to Utilize Twitter Lists
There are a variety of ways you can utilize Twitter lists and I find they are all helpful to the diverse group of clients we work with.
Twitter lists are a great way to monitor trends in your industry, media, a crisis and more. I always recommend a local media list (or multiple if you have locations or interests in different cities), national media list if you work nationwide, supporters/partners/sponsors and thought
leaders in your industry.
Scanning those lists weekly will help you catch up on what is going on or in the case of a crisis you have one place on Twitter to monitor sentiment.
This is one is my favorite. Creating lists takes time, but if you put in the effort to build great lists it will be a big time saver going forward. Creating lists for the different topics or industries you are interested in or focused on will allow you to scan and find great content to read and share across your social channels. I will share more ideas on different types of helpful lists to have in addition to the media lists mentioned above, below in the examples.
If you have created a list that you think would be helpful to others – share! While you can follow and subscribe to other people’s lists it is always great to create lists that others will follow as well. It helps to show your expertise as an expert and/or industry leader as well.
Examples of Twitter Lists
Medical Client – created lists of all locations, local partners, national health organizations
Sports Client – created lists of local teams both professional and amateur, national sports and coaching organizations, US professional and Olympic sports (during an Olympic year), local hotels and sports facilities
Final Thoughts on Twitter Lists
Twitter lists take time to build, so go slow and don’t try to do it all in a day. In my experience the time commitment is worth it!
How do you plan to use Twitter Lists for your business in 2020?
It’s nearly the end of the year and many organizations are taking stock of how they did this year and making plans for next year. If you’re a social media manager for an organization, you should be doing the same. But what questions should you ask? What should you look at to gain insight into what’s working and what’s not working?
Social networks make changes all the time, so you need to continually look at your channels, evaluate results and make changes to stay ahead of the game.
Here are 10 questions you should be asking as you evaluate 2019 and begin to prepare for next year.
- How is my engagement on Facebook? Is it better or worse than it was at the beginning of the year? Should I trim the output on this channel?
- How are my posts doing on Instagram? Are they getting seen in the feed and getting lots of comments and likes? Am I overposting on this channel?>
- How are my Instagram stories doing? Are they getting seen more frequently or less frequently than my Instagram feed posts?
- How am I doing on Twitter? Can I see a difference now on RTs and likes compared to where I started earlier this year?
- Is LinkedIn a viable channel for my organization? How is it different? Did my content stick this year and what kinds of views, likes and comments did I get on my posts?
- If you’re on Pinterest, what is the standout pin of the year? Which boards are getting more traction? Can you see improvement over time?
- What types of content are the best performing content on each channel? Why?
- Are all my channels performing to set objectives? If not, what changes are indicated for next year?
- Should I launch a new channel or a new group in the coming year?
- How will I report on these successes and challenges? What metrics will help me explain success to my leadership?
Answering these ten questions will help you start evaluating your social channel performance this year. What other questions are you asking about your social media ecosystem this year?
Disclosure is the hottest topic in social and digital media and is the least understood by brands AND by influencers.
Full Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and am not offering legal advice. Anyone who has questions about disclosure and how the law applies to them, should consult a licensed attorney.
Now that’s out of the way. (See what I did there!)
So, what is disclosure? By definition, it’s identifying or exposing an act or instance of something. In today’s social media environment, its theoretical underpinning is this: to help social media users identify and separate organic posts, stories or videos from posts, stories or videos for which compensation has been given. But it’s not just about compensation. The law covers material relationships which include gift cards and discounts. It also covers family and business relationships too.
In practice, the term “Wild West” doesn’t even begin to describe how it’s really being used.
What is the Law?
The “law” comes from the Federal Trade Communication and has been revised several times, as social media has grown and changed. The most recent update was September, 2017. Their website features a set of Endorsement Guides which give examples for a wide range of situations including payments, contests and soliciting product reviews.
You should bookmark this link FOREVER.
In case that feels like a bit too much to digest, the Truth In Advertising organization has distilled it to a set of bulleted lists that explain what they call the “material connection” and offers suggestions on how to comply with the law.
Disclosure for Agencies and Brand Representatives
Full Disclosure-AGAIN: I am not a lawyer and am not offering legal advice. Anyone who has questions about disclosure should consult a licensed attorney.
As a communicator, I am extremely motivated to follow the law. So I counsel my clients to do the same. But every day, my team and I see examples that are clearly paid engagements that lack the necessary disclosure.
- Facebook and Twitter posts that feature a company that the poster clearly represents with no disclosure.
- Agency comments on an Instagram post where there is clearly a client relationship and no disclosure.
- Sending products or services to influencers to use/share/discuss and telling them – don’t bother to thank us or mention we gifted this to you.
Disclosure for Influencers
If you accepted something, you need to disclose it. It’s that simple. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines and start to implement them on your next brand activation.
And you need to make sure that the contracts you sign with brands contain disclosure requirements. We use disclosure language with a link to the FTC Guidelines in every influencer contract we manage.
Our team is hyper-aware about this topic. One of our team members participated in a course by a major Instagram influencer who is making significant income from paid engagements there. She was horrified to see a thread in the accompanying private group in which the group advised in a q/a that there is no need for disclosure when a brand “gifts” something to you. Others in the chat advised “it’s up to you if you share that it’s a gift or not.” And they even suggested that you should post something about the gift, then show the post results and pitch further business to the brand. Every single piece of advice in that thread violates the disclosure laws.
My team member was horrified.
Besides the complete ignorance about the law, the additional issue is that this group is selling their “expertise” to others who are following their advice, perpetuating bad habits and encouraging others to do the same.
Here are some examples of disclosure featuring influencers I know and have worked with regularly.
It’s not that hard.
“I see a lot of influencers use brand partner, hosted, or my personal favorite, “spon” to disclose the relationship with the brand, says Jill Robbins of Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. “My interpretation is that only “ad” or “sponsored” meet the FTC’s disclosure requirements.”
What if You Are Not Sure?
It’s anyone’s guess who the FTC might fine when disclosure isn’t obvious. The agency has been criticized for the guidelines being confusing and open to interpretation. Government agencies are often very measured in the actions they take to enforce laws and this law is no exception. Since the September 2017 guidelines have been released, they’ve sent 22 “educational” letters (which is the step prior to a warning letter) to celebrities, according to this story in the Morning Consult.
Just because you’re not a celebrity doesn’t mean you should ignore the law. Overcommunicating your relationships in social and digital posts is better than no disclosure at all.
I’m a community manager for Texas Travel Talk, a community of travel influencers. We work with brands to bring bloggers to Texas destinations and tell the destination story through blog posts and social media blitzes. These are paid relationships. We’re not perfect but we constantly review and revise our disclosure guidelines. For example, we used to put the disclosure about our financial arrangement with a destination at the bottom of each post, but because the requirement is for a disclosure to be up front and clearly noticeable, we’ve moved those on all blog posts to be right after the first paragraph and in bold font.
We also struggle as to the appropriate disclosure that we, as community managers, need to pursue. Since I’m not the actual influencer, I often use a more narrative disclosure like “So thrilled to be working with #client [insert name] or something like the tweet below.
If you’re not working with influencers or find disclosure necessary, I am willing to bet that you’re following someone on Instagram or Twitter who talks about products, restaurants and experiences. Are THEY getting paid to promote those things? Maybe it’s worth asking.
Just last week, The Truth in Advertisiing group (the same one we linked to earlier in this story) filed a complaint with the FTC against Ryan ToysReview You Tube channel managed by the parents of 8-year-old Ryan who is often cited as You Tube’s highest performer with 21 million followers. They argued that children under age 5, the primary target of this channel, could not possibly know the difference between paid and organic content there. Read the full story here on the Today show website.
If there’s one thing you can take away from this discussion on disclosure, there’s a lot at stake. So, let’s go out there and be law abiding social media users.
How have you struggled with disclosure?
Social media is a big part of getting the word out about your organization. You’ve spend considerable time and effort creating content and selecting the right images to get your message across. That makes it all the more important to know who your audience is, so you will know if your messages are getting to the right people.
Identify Your Desired Audience (if you haven’t already)
First you should identify your audience or target market. Who do you want to talk to, market to, educate, etc.? Write it down and keep it for reference!
Identify your Current Audience
Social media platforms have made it much easier to figure out who your fans and followers are. Let’s talk about Facebook and Instagram specifically. There are 3rd party tools that can help you understand your audience better, but using Facebook and Instagram directly is a quick and easy way to identify your audience.
If you have a business page, the “Insights” tab should be your best friend.
Go to “Insights” across the top of your home page, then click “People” on the left-hand side of your screen.
From here you can see information on your fans including gender, age, country and city.
If you have a business profile, you can find out everything from demographics to viewing habits of your current audience.
Go to your bio page, click the three lines in the upper right-hand corner and select “Insights”.
From here you can see insights on your content, activity and audience. Find out your top locations, age range and gender, plus when your fans are online by day and hour!
Speaking to your Current Audience
If your insights show your followers are your target – congratulations!!
If your insights show that your audience is not quite who you thought they were, you can make adjustments to include them.
Adjust Your Content to Reach your Desired Audience
If your current audience is not exactly who you thought it was that is ok, but you may need to adjust your content to make sure you are speaking to the fans you have in the best way possible.
Example: You are a health care provider targeting women 30-55 and mainly post content for women 40+. After reviewing your audience, you realize the majority of your followers are 25-35. Adjusting content to appeal to the audience you have is a good plan in this case. Most likely they are mothers with younger children – content that includes information on how to treat ear aches, healthy snack recipes and promoting services such as preschool TB tests or back to school physicals would help reach your audience more effectively.
There are some instances where despite who is currently on your channels you want to continue to talk to your intended audience to prevent confusion or a large change in tone or purpose. You don’t want to abandon your current audience completely, but make slow, incremental changes to start bringing in the demographic you desire.
Example: You are a hotel and your existing social media audience is mainly locals. In this instance you would want to continue to talk to visitors (your target) and possibly add in some messages on staycations or local events for your current audience. Switching to talk to the audience you have (locals) would be confusing and off-brand but adding in specific content to include the current audience of locals would be worthwhile as you continue to build your out of town fans and followers.
If you don’t currently have the audience you want, use targeted advertising to help you reach them!
Do you have your target audience clearly defined? What metrics do you use to know that you are effectively reaching them?
Impressions are becoming an increasingly attractive metric for clients who are trying to distance themselves from using the outdated Advertising Value Equivalencies (AVE).
It’s hard not to love a metric that has the ability to be gleaned from websites, digital publications and every social media channel we’re using. But guess what? The way many organizations are reporting impressions today is as convoluted and inaccurate as the AVEs are.
How did we get to the point where impressions became the answer to all our measurement problems?
The Rise of Impressions in Reporting
Digital advertising is the first place I recall seeing this metric used. Particularly when paid media teams began to report on digital success. In some ways, we traded circulation figures which were used in print magazines and newspapers for impressions. The difference is that circulation figures were careful vetted by an audit board. A third party verified that you sold the number of magazines you said you sold. There is no such third party for today’s digital publications. We are reliant on in-built tools that report page views, impressions and others.
At some point, someone got the brilliant idea to add them all up. It’s a bigger number, it’s more impressive and summarizing a campaign is so much easier with a single large number. Clients love it! Donors are impressed. Awards panels say wow! This is the point at which the “sin of measurement” becomes widespread. The simple math equation is almost always overinflated just for that wow moment.
How NOT to Count Impressions
When we take a series of publications and add up all the impressions to get a campaign total, that’s when we get into trouble with using the number. Here’s an example of how impressions should not be counted.
Everyone loves football. In July 2015, the Washington Redskins communications team released a report on the coverage they received during the previous years’ training camp. Dan Steinberg reported on it in the Washington Post. You can read the full article here but this is the key quote that sums up the simple math we’re getting wrong with impressions.
“With the help of third-party media monitoring services Meltwater and TVEyes, the team put out a fancy 13-page report on its findings. That report determined, among other things, that there were “7,845,460,401 unique visitors of print/online coverage of the 2014 Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Camp from July 24-Aug. 12.
That’s a big number. To put it in perspective, that’s considerably more than the population of Earth, which the Census Bureau estimates at 7.26 billion. Apparently, a lot of folks on Pluto were really interested in Colt McCoy’s progress.”Dan Steinberg in the Washington Post
Further down in the story, the reporter shared that when he contacted one of the monitoring services, they explained that the number was a count of impressions, so anytime a person saw a story about the event, it counted.
The report concluded that the value of that media coverage was more than $76 million.
What the report didn’t show (and what the reporter identified himself) is that during a campaign, some of your fans/followers/readers will see your message multiple times. Raw impressions don’t solve for that. If you keep adding up impressions, giving a cumulative value over time, it becomes statistically inaccurate – like more than the number of people on Earth inaccurate.
What You Can Do TODAY to Make Reporting Impressions Accurate and Meaningful
- What would have made the Washington Redskins team report more meaningful is taking the sum total of impressions and dividing it by the number of news stories generated to derive an average. Then next year, you do the same thing. Is the average higher or lower? Now you have a benchmark.
- Track how your total impressions move up or down over time. For example, if you log the impressions you receive each month on Facebook and it’s around 10,000 and then one month, it’s suddenly 50,000, that’s a cue to look for a reason for the sudden change. It might be a key piece of content, conversation or ad.
- Use impression reporting as a gateway metric to dive deeper into more meaningful measurement like engagement and engagement rate on your social channels and in digital content.
Stop adding up those impressions because before you know it, you’ll have more impressions than there are people on Earth. And that’s out of this world.
Here at Step In we work on behalf of brands, products and organizations to connect bloggers and influencers for different paid and trade projects. Whether it is a weekend getaway or a free lunch, you should want brands and those who work on their behalf to be able to find and connect with you.
Finding the right person to work with on behalf of the brands we represent at Step In is something we take seriously. Yes, we have tools that help identify bloggers and pull page authority and rankings but we pick our bloggers “by hand”. We spend a lot of time reading through blogs, scanning Twitter feeds, looking at Facebook pages and combing through Instagram channels of each of the people we recommend to our clients/brands and then ultimately decide to pitch. We use custom pitches written for each project and blogger which takes more time but we believe in. This process is not fast and is a lot of work, but we feel it makes the best partnerships and the projects work more smoothly.
Being in the business a long time also means we know many of the bloggers and influencers in the travel space, especially in Texas. Lots of these people we are thankful to call our friends. In groups and in person we have seen and heard more than a few complaints about brands with bad pitches that just did not hit the mark or were so far off base it was ridiculous. While brands definitely need to do their homework when reaching out, there are definitely some things you can do as a blogger and/or influencer to help the brands, products and organizations figure out if you are a good fit.
Things Bloggers Can Do To Be More Visible
After a recent research session on behalf of a travel destination, I compiled a list of things that were lacking on many influencers’ public profiles. These things will help you stand out, show clearly who you are and what you are passionate about. You want to move from the initial “quick scan” stage which we do with a large list, on to the longer “detailed review” stage as the list of potential influencers gets paired down.
We hope this checklist will be helpful for you to scan across your blog and social channels with new eyes to see if you are making it easy for brands to find you, see your hard work and reach out to partner with you!
___ Do the social media links on your blog work? I can’t tell you how many times I clicked through to dead links directly from blog sites. Yikes!
___ Can we find your channels? With so many great blog templates and widgets these days it is easy to find one that you can connect the social profiles you are active on to your blog where they are easy to find.
*Note -This one really surprised me. I found many social pages people were obviously spending time to update and put good content on them (I do content creation for clients too and I KNOW how long that takes!) but they were not linked. It took multiple google searches to find all of their social channels because they were either not linked on their blog or the social links on their blog were broken/linked to the wrong place. Not everyone is going to take the time and extra effort to go look for all your channels, make it easy and link them!
___ Are each of your channels linked to the other? On the note above, people don’t always start with your blog – no matter where they find you on the web, they should be able to get back to your main channel, ideally your blog. Are they able to do that from each of your social channels?
*Ideas – Pin a tweet on Twitter with all your links to your blog and active social channels. Use highlights on IG or at least link to your blog or a link type app on your IG bio. Use your FB “About” section to list all your social channels.
___ Do you have consistent branding? Consistent branding and photos across platforms are helpful so we know we landed in the right place! This is especially important if you don’t have the same name or handle on your blog and social channels.
___ Is your physical location easy to find and correct? If you have moved in the last few years scan all your bios to make sure they are updated. Many times offers are location based and being able to figure out what city and state you are in saves you and the brand both time.
*Example – Once we were looking for bloggers from a specific city to help talk about new flights from that city to our client’s destination. If none of your profiles state your home base, then we are just guessing!
___ Contact information easy to find? Sponsor page with all your blog stats, great! But how do we contact you? Make sure you have a contact page and that your email is on it! I visited multiple pages that had no email or contact form which makes reaching out a little complicated.
Connecting Brands and Influencers is About Finding the Right Fit
As the industry continues to grow and change, micro influencers will pave their own way. Just because you don’t have 50k-500k followers doesn’t mean a brand won’t be interested in working with you. We enjoy discovering up and coming influencers and you don’t have to have to have Kardashian status, just be a great fit for our client!
We encourage all bloggers to make it easy for products, brands and organizations to reach out to you. You never know who you might be the perfect fit for!
Take a Moment to Check All Your Profiles
Something we recommend to all our clients is to do a quarterly review of their online presence. This is a good practice for influencers too.
Here are some things you can do to keep your social channels ready for fans, followers, collaborators, advertisers and brands.
Quarterly Social Check Up:
About and Bio Pages
- Is the information current?
- Do the links work?
Profile, Cover and Header Photos
- Are they the correct size?
- Current or relevant photos and graphics (no past holiday/event/etc.)?
- Do you have cohesive branding across channels?
- Updated password?
- Two-factor authentication?
- Review all locations where logins to your social accounts have occurred.
- Confirm you are using all apps with access to your channels, if not revoke/remove access.
What are your experiences working in the influencer/brand activation space?
Are you a digital hoarder? I know I am. I save news stories to read in Facebook later (and never do), I have an RSS reader with dozens of blogs rolling up just waiting for me to read it and yet, I can never find anything. I just got a new laptop, so it was a great time to do some digital clean up.
Here are 5 things I’ve done this month to free myself from the digital clutter.
Purge Client Files
It’s so rare to go back to a former client files to retrieve anything, so get them off your desktop and file them in Dropbox or somewhere else in the cloud under one folder called Archive. I usually save all work from clients for a year, but delete the email folder for that client after three months.
Save the Good Stuff
Before you go crazy and start deleting, is there one thing or a couple of things that you might use as a sample later on or as a guide to format another clients’ communication need? File it on your desktop in a new file called Samples. I started this about a year ago and it’s made building new powerpoint presentations and sharing templates for editorial calendars or other work so much easier.
I am overwhelmed with the number of stories I should be reading to keep current in my field. For the digital stuff, I roll blogs and news feeds into Feedly into categories that are important to my client work and to my learning. The trick is, to go in and purge the feeds out when you no longer need them. Done with the client in a specific industry? Trim it down.
And all those newsletter subscriptions? If you’re not already using Unroll.me, you’re missing out. IT’s an add on that puts every newsletter to which you subscribe into ONE. DAILY. EMAIL. Since I’m now getting a thousand or more of these things, it’s the only way to get your head above water.
If they are so valuable that you want to save it for later, start a Diigo library and keep them all in one place.
Update your Profiles
Now is a good time to check your Twitter Bio, your “about” section on Facebook and your Linked In headline. I would recommend you get new headshots too, but that would just be crazy talk! (It takes me forever to change out headshots. No good reason)
Check Your Privacy Settings
I almost never do this, but this recent story in the Washington Post with EXACT Instructions on a couple of things made it easy. Took me five minutes. Do it now to clear advertising clutter out of your feeds!
Influencers and brands have been in the news lately and not in a good way. Dishonesty in campaigns – it’s rampant in the world of working with influencers. But it’s not that difficult for brands and influencers to find common ground. Brands philosophically understand why working with influencers can elevate their efforts. Influencers need brands to keep their independent media channels growing.
But it’s clear from recent news coverage that the ocean is choppy and brands and influencers are having a tough time navigating their courses.
Influencers Who are Faking It Make the Rest Look Bad
Two recent examples point to flaws among the influencer community. Rachel Hollis, a blogger turned speaker and author recently attracted unwanted attention after she was accused of plagiarizing quotes on her Instagram channel.
Another recent story involves Aggie Lal, a lifestyle influencer. It came to light after she charged $500 to join a master class, which turned out to be anything but masterful. Some of the 380 participants (do the math on what she may have earned from the project) were so angry they turned to other social networks to complain loudly and publicly.
The Atlantic recently reported on just how rampant “fake deals” are among the influencer community, which should shock anyone in the field of marketing and communications.
“Lifestyle blogging is all about seamlessly monetizing your good taste and consumer choices, which means it can be near-impossible for laypeople to tell if an influencer genuinely loves a product, is being paid to talk about it, or just wants to be paid to talk about it,” wrote Taylor Lorenz in The Atlantic.
This only scratches the surface of the problem of transparency with influencers. Many influencers who are trying to establish themselves in the space know just enough from a conference they’ve attended or a presentation they’ve heard to bravely approach brands. Often they use specific language about what they’re offering you and what they want you, the brand, to do. Others are more vague, saying things such as “we’d like to partner with you” which means they’d like to get paid, but want you to reveal your budget first.
This ruins it for the influencers who are conscientious, transparent and communicative. Because they are out there. I’ve worked with hundreds of them and it’s a joy to bring to life a campaign that perfectly marries the right influencer with the right brand.
Brands Have Reputation Issues Too
Late last year, shoe retailer Payless created a fake pop up store and tricked more than 80 influencers into thinking the shoes were part of a new luxury brand. The story, which you can read here also describes how they “revealed” the trick to the participants. (Payless recently filed for bankruptcy and is in the process of closing its stores).
While philosophically, brands understand influencers, they just can’t figure out where they fit in. Are they like a journalist? No? Are they like a marketing promotion partner? Sometimes? Are they like sponsored content? Sometimes?
One of the biggest brand hurdles is FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. They want to get into the influencer game, they know it’s on trend, but guess what? Maybe they didn’t do their research. Or they’ve made small advances with a few select influencers here and there and believe they got burned, so that defines how they feel about the future of influencer marketing.
Our team has assisted many brands to get started working with influencers. We help them answer a lot of questions. Who should I choose and why? What do I ask them? Do I pay them? How and when? What can I expect from them?
Making the Right Match between Influencers & Brands
Clearly, there is huge room for improvement between influencers and brands. Here are three things influencers AND brands can do to make the right match.
Do Your Homework
Influencers: Research the brand who approaches you or the one you are targeting. Look at their marketing, their social channels, and visualize where you might fit in.
Brands: Research every influencer you’re interested in AND those who approach you directly. Are they who they say they are? Who have they worked with before?
Clear and Concise Communication
Influencers: don’t oversell to a brand. Be honest about your past work and where you are in your influencer journey.
Brands: Be clear about what your influencer activation policy is and most importantly, WHAT IT IS NOT.
Influencers: get your work in on time and do more than expected. Ask questions until you’re clear what is being asked of you and by when.
Brands: be clear and reasonable about what you want the influencer to do. Is it number of words, number of posts, reporting on engagement? Define it.
Make Strategic Decisions
Influencers: Don’t hit up every brand in your industry or in your geography. Be selective and targeted.
Brands: make sure the influencer is the right fit. Just because they’re “big” or well known does not mean they will work for you.
As influencer and brand activations continue to accelerate, it’s more important than ever that we negotiate equitably and honestly. It’s not difficult to find common ground between influencers and brands if you plan and prepare for the project. If you want help getting an influencer program started for your organization, call us. We’re here to help.