While major influencers with 100k or more of a following and major PR companies may have it all worked out, what about those of a smaller proportion? Perhaps the blogger or Instagrammer with under 10k- 20k followers or even the big fish in the local pond? After participating in many different group chat groups with fellow instagrammers and influencers and hearing the gripes of some of my clients in working with influencers, I thought it time to write down some “rules” if you will. As the ‘micro’ influencer is on the rise how we perform in the industry will be more important than ever.
Even though Instagram was launched years ago, there is still a grey area. What to post, what times to post, what to pay influencers, how to give photo credit, is the algorithm changing again? How important is the engagement? Are her followers even real? The list goes on…
While there may be many questions up in the air, one thing about Instagram remains certain. Instagram is about community and those with the best results are those that organically engage and treat unto others how they would want done to themselves. Being a nice neighbor counts, even on the internet.
We live in a very small world. From time to time I get asked my opinion of a fellow influencer by companies that I have relationships with. While I’m a firm believer in not saying anything negative, I won’t put my endorsement on just anyone. The same goes for how I am treated during my partnerships. Your reputation as both a company and an influencer, matters.
While this list is strictly an opinion, here are a few ‘unofficial’ rules of navigating through Social Influencing for success.
Rules for Brands
One of the biggest gripes I’ve heard from influencers is how companies chose to give photo credit to the photos they are reposting. Photo Credit is the method of tagging who the photo belongs to. My first suggestion for social media managers or small businesses is to get permission before you post. Most influencers are happy to have their photos reposted but after all, it is intellectual property. Responsible and major companies will often request permission to repost in the comments of the photo they like and the influencer needs to respond their approval with a company specific hashtag.
If you do not seek permission beforehand, then the unofficial rule of reposting is to provide credit in both the caption of the photo with a tag back to the account of the original content as well as a tag on the photo itself. Don’t skip one or the other. Reposting responsibly is extremely important in being a part of a respectful Instagram community. A sure-fire way to get influencers to stop working with your brand, is to take other’s photos and use them without photo credit.
Plain and simple: Don’t be an Instagram jerk. Give proper photo credit when reposting other’s photos and intellectual property.
For a great and brutally honest post written by one photographer on reusing photos with out permission CLICK HERE..
The fact of the matter is that many influencers are still being taken advantage of for their time and skill set. I have personally stopped accepting product trades for sponsored posts and exposure. If I want the $20 product you’ll give me for free in return content creation for your social media channels, I will go out and buy it. The time is takes to style a product, photograph, edit and compile a set of hi-resolution images for a brand is lengthy. The cost difference to hire a professional photography studio for commercial purposes vs hiring a top-notch photography influencer is still great. If you want copyrights to the images, expect to pay for a set from the influencer.
Travel and experiences continue to be one area that influencers may be satisfied for trade. Every influencer has different values on what is important to them. The higher the reach or following the influencer has, expect to meet a rate that you and the influencer can negotiate. With that said, sometimes the quality of content that you can use for your social campaigns may also prove to be extremely valuable in addition to the influencers endorsement of a tightly knit but engaged community that will buy in. Consider the cost and reach of hiring multiple micro-influencers vs. just one major influencer.
Bridge the Generation Gap in Social Influencing
As an influencer in my early 30’s, companies often confide in me about their challenges working with Millennials. I am the first year of the ‘Millennial’ generation so I have the edge and drive of a Millennial combined with the old school work ethic of a Gen X. I see both sides. While most influencers are a Millennial, those hiring an influencer or behind the social media campaigns are often of Generation X.
The two generations trying to get on the same page can often cause major headaches. My best advice is to be flexible to bridge the gap and learn what you can from both generations. Both and including Generation Z (post Millennials), you can learn a lot from if you work to understand and let assumptions go. This requires patience and flexibility in your work relationships while still being clear on your expectations for the campaign you are working together on.
So, You’re Hosting an Event…
If you are hosting an event for influencers you must deliver. Having attended dozens of events from LA to Boston to NYC, I’ve seen the great, the bad and the ugly. Bottom line, you’re having this event to create a buzz and gain exposure through your invitees. Give the influencers you’ve invited something to buzz about. I will always do my part in socially sharing events I’m attending. However, the difference between uploading a photo to a 24-hour story to a permanent Instagram post or even a detailed blog post depends on how you deliver.
If you are hosting a dinner for example, you should have a plate for every influencer and plenty of drinks. Influencers shouldn’t have to share or wait their turn to take photos of the plate, especially if this is the only means of compensation for their attendance and time. If you are launching a new line and want influencers to come check it out, how can you portray the lifestyle of your brand and have influencers live it for a few hours?
Don’t think it’s always just about the ‘swag’ or free items…what type of experience are you delivering? While there will always be a budget you must stick to, the best events are the ones providing a creative flare with great conversations and high influencer engagement. Give them something to talk about!
Rules for Influencers
Treat Your Blog or Instagram Like a Business
If you are expecting sponsorships, ensure to treat your role as ‘influencer’ like you are running a business even if you are just running an Instagram page. Business etiquette still matters. From arriving to events on time to upholding your part of the commitment or contract, your actions speak to your professionalism. Is your look professional and polished? Are you responding to emails and sending deliverables in a timely manner? This is your business and often times as an influencer, your business IS you.
Develop a Contract
Most large companies will send over a contract for you to sign as an agreement or outline to the partnership. If the company doesn’t, type up an outline for a contract to provide to the company. This can contain anything from the number of posts you will complete, to when payment needs to be received to how the brand can use your photos. Clear expectations with deliverables help both parties ensure they are happy with the results.
Is What You Are Asking for Warranted?
We’ve all heard about the influencer with 500 followers that asks for a free stay at a hotel or expensive free items. Marketing Managers often read these emails scratching their head saying ‘are you kidding me!?’ For every dollar a marketing team invests in you, they need to be able to see the ROI. You are able to provide your expected ROI through sharing your stats and analytics of your readership, following and exposure. All of these including your demographics should be outlined in your Influencer Media Kit.
The majority of the work that needs to be done by you is before you’ve even gotten your first sponsorship. Long hours of creating content, driving engagement and building a subscription list and following doesn’t just happen overnight. Once you get there are you are able to switch gears and create content for other brands which hopefully pays off for you. I’ve done countless partnerships for free in order to build my influencer resume. There is no free lunch. Hard work and building a reputable self-brand pays off.
Leave a Lasting Impression
From being an event attendee or completing a campaign for a brand, you want to leave a lasting impression. Having business cards on hand or a clear Collaborations landing page on your site let brands know how to find you, what you do and what you can deliver. Even if you didn’t enjoy working with a brand, doing your part well ensure that your word of mouth reputation will stay solid. You don’t know who someone knows. Just like every other industry, this is a very small world.
Always follow-up with an inquiry on how to work together in the future or at very least a thank you.
Have a best practice to share or constructive feedback on this list? I’d love to hear how you are navigating through the world of social influencing. Please use the comment box below or use the buttons to share on your social pages. I hope with your feedback, to continue to add to the list. Thank you for stopping by as always.
Want to know the best apps for editing photos for Instagram? CLICK HERE for the article.