It is no secret that influencer marketing is rapidly evolving and brands are looking for ways to engage influencers in a personal experience so they will create authentic, high-quality content and ultimately become brand advocates. In order to do this, brands often look to on-location activations for influencers that give them first-hand experience with the brand.
If this is something you are getting ready to roll out in the new year, here’s five things to consider before you send influencers on location.
1. Select the right influencers for your brand and event
This may seem obvious, but it is one area that can quickly trip up your strategy. When it comes to sending influencers on location, picking influencers that not only reflect your brand and values, but have a true advocacy for your brand is mission critical.
Having the right influencers post about their experiences at your event, store opening, or destination can dramatically increase your audience. Align your brand with the wrong influencer and it is like handing over the microphone to a stranger who just doesn’t get you.
As an agency partner, we follow the ABCs of Influencer Selection; audience, brand and content. We use third-party verified data to assess an influencer’s reach, engagement, saturation and check for follower/engagement fraud. We look at the influencer’s brand with help from IBM Watson and put eyes on all of their content for quality and brand safety. We identify any red flags that could be a potential problem for our clients.
And while reach is all fine and good, when it comes to the numbers, we really like engagement.
When identifying influencers, a historically engaged audience is critical. Even if the influencer creates gorgeous content, if they don’t have an engaged audience, it doesn’t matter, they won’t generate buzz around your event.
Due to the power of engagement, we often mix micro and nano influencers into our campaign rosters because they tend to have devoted, highly engaged audiences.
When it comes to selecting the right influencers, careful vetting combined with a truly great brand experience will turn them into devoted brand advocates and your initial investment will continue to reap returns long after the campaign has ended.
2. The Devil is in the Details
Careful attention to event logistics during the planning phase of a campaign will set the influencer and the campaign up for success. Things that may seem like no big deal, such as venue parking, photography, camera and bag policies, are actually a really big deal and should be researched beforehand. Also, the amount of time an influencer will need to travel to the event location, create content and fulfill the requirements of the assignment need to be considered.
For Andrew Wise of Life, Tailored (pictured right), creating the high-quality content his audiences and brands expect doesn’t happen on the fly.
“I wish brands would have a photographer available to take photos,” said Wise. “Shooting photos at events aren’t the ideal settings, so the more brands can work with us to allow us to shoot beforehand where we’re producing the shoot, the better quality the photos will be.”
3. Communication is Critical
For Melody Robinson (pictured left), of Being Just Melody, communication is super important.
“It's best when brands clearly define the expectations and share the goal of the campaign. Some brands are not as clear as others. Communication between the influencer coordinator, especially if it's an agency, should be consistent at the actual event,” said Robinson. “I once arrived at an event and there was no person on location to assist influencers that were invited.”
When sending influencers on location, there are variables to consider. As an agency partner, we brief influencers through a Welcome Packet and a pre-event call to answer any questions. It is important to us that not only is our client served to the highest level, but that the influencers we contract also have a great experience.
Tif Fannin of Bright on a Budget is in demand in Lexington, KY where she lives and if you follow her IG Stories, you know she is often out at brand events.
When it comes to attending an on location assignment, Fannin wants to be prepared.
“Pre-event, there should be a packet or email with all the information the influencer needs to know, including any special requests,” said Fannin.
4. Be Mindful of Brand Safety, But Let the Influencers Do Their Job
When sending an influencer to an event, even if there is brand or agency staff with them, there is a level of uncertainty, especially if your brand is used to having content approvals. When influencers are hired to attend events, this can mean the brand has little or no control over what the influencers are posting. This can also extend to the influencer’s guest. As an agency partner, we recommend adding a clause to the contract that prohibits the influencer’s guest from posting content that tags the brand and event. The reason? If your influencer brings another influencer who is not bound by the guardrails you’ve established, you now have no control.
As for content approval, if the influencer has been carefully vetted, the brand should feel comfortable allowing them to create content and posting in real time. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen.
“We were at a late-night event sending stories to our contact who then had to send the stories to a 3rd party in another time zone and it took near 30 minutes to an hour for each approval. We stayed up all night waiting on approvals,” said Wise “They know our style and what we offer so let us create the best image for their brand.”
5. Aligning on Rates
This is the one area where influencers and brands are often disconnected.
When brands approach us about sending influencers to events or on location, many see it as a shared value proposition. The brand feels they are offering influencers an experience, so they want the influencer to lower their normal rates, or work for free in exchange for comped tickets, lodging, dining, free product, etc. Influencer’s feel very differently.
“I think many brands and agencies undervalue the value given and time input by influencers, and do not offer actual payment for attending the event. Many brands seem to think items such as tickets and lodging should reduce the influencer's rate or eliminate it altogether,” said Fannin (pictured right). “I have a separate rate for events depending on the deliverables and time investment. I do not reduce my rate for events based on tickets, lodging, etc. as those are necessary for the event and should be provided by the brand in the first place.”
For Wise, he appreciates the opportunity to create interesting content on location, but wishes he was given more time.
“We include additional cost for our day rates and travel time,” said Wise. “But, the thing is, the best content takes time so in an ideal scenario we are staying at the location for a couple days, so we can shoot everything there is to cover and adjust for bad lighting and/or weather conditions.”
Robinson says she looks at events from both sides, as the brand and influencer, and wishes brands and agencies took into consideration the often-overlooked expenses that influencers may incur, such as gas and parking.
“I don't expect to have extravagant perks, I only expect a fee that is relative to my added value to the campaign, “ said Robinson.
If you're thinking about sending influencers on-location as part of a campaign, we've given you a lot to consider. Eager to jump in, but not sure where to start? Check out our 9 Steps to Influencer Marketing Success whitepaper, or contact us via the chat window on this page or our Contact Us Form for a quick reply.