This is one of the more common questions I come accross when working with new clients and training brands. The short answer is “no”, but let’s dive into the things to consider when decided which advocates are right for your brand.







One of the familiar pitfalls of influencer marketing in recent years is the rise of tools promising to identify the perfect ambassador for any brand. Whilst data is extremely important in the decision-making process, this is an industry built on human connection, something these tools will never be able to achieve. This results in campaigns built solely on audience and engagement figures, lacking the experience and industry knowledge which add relevency and soul to these partnerships.


So what should you be looking out for when developing these relationships? If it’s not enough to have lots of followers and pretty pictures which perform well then what should we be looking for in an ambassador?


Brand fit - content:

The fist question you should be asking is whether this specific creator is right for YOUR brand. They may shoot the most incredible food content you’ve ever seen, but if you specialise in gym gear and they’ve never spoken about so much as a press up in the history of their channel then they might not be a good fit for you. Don’t be fooled though, by having honest conversations with creators you really love, you may find that they have a secret hobby relating to your business, or they’ve been looking for the perfect opportunity to diversify their feed. You won’t know unless you ask!


Brand fit - holistic:

Their content may relate to your product category, but it’s just as important that your advocates share your brand values and buy into your ethos before you strike up a partnership. If your brand cares deeply about the environment, it should be core to your strategy to ensure that your advocates really are making eco lifestyle choices in every facet of their life to achieve authenticity and trust with your audience. If you prefer to be a non-polarising brand then ensuring you work with talent who won’t feel stifled by strict guidelines, and who will comfortably convey your messaging in a tone which works for you is key to maintaining a consistent brand image.


Reputation:

Is this creator well-respected within the community you are trying to reach? Are they perhaps represented by a reputed agency, or have they recently worked with some great brands? Have they been involved in any scandals or controversies which could potentially damage your brand image by association? No matter the size of your business it’s important that the creators you’re working with are protecting your name as much as you are theirs.


Your KPIs:

We’ve gone into the detail of KPI-led campaigns *here* but it’s important to note within this post that KPIs absolutely should inform your creator selections. We only work with creators whose engagement rate matches or exceeds the industry average for their tier, but beyond this you should understand that different creators will drive different results. Some creators may have relatively low content views for their audience size, but drive high clickthrough and sales figures. Others may have a mass reach and awareness value but drive little in terms of customer funnel flow. Neither is ”better” than the other - moreso than any medium social media audience behaviours vary massively by demographic and channel, and even with the changing seasons. Understanding these nuances and tailoring your outreach list according to what you want to achieve from a specific campaign is the best wait to achieve tailored results.


Personal knowledge:

I can’t count the number of times a client has come to me with a list of creators recommended to them by a marketing tool, or a friend who knows a lot about Instagram, and I’ve had to go through with a red pen crossing names out because “this person is taking a 6 week break to focus on being a dad”, “this person is about to sign a big contract with the market leader in your niche”, “this person is allergic to one of your key ingredients”. As with most industries there are some things which can’t be taught, and a decade of deep knowledge of the industry and the people in it is the quickest way to gauge the effectiveness of a campaign and its ambassadors before you’ve even started.


Although your KPIs will vary, it should be every brand’s objective to find ambassadors who share in your core values, with an audience who respects and trust them, and who feel passionately about sharing your brand with everyone around them. These perfect matches can’t be found by an algorithm, and the most successful brand partnerships are testament to the power of experience and knowledge in the industry.


- Geo, Founder and Director at HappyCat.

Updated: Mar 5, 2020

How much added-value to my brand can a selfie really bring?


How much value to my brand can a selfie really drive? I saw my product featured on Instagram Stories, is that enough to convert customers to buy from me?


In some cases - yes, that really will be all it takes to at least drive some new traffic to your site. However alone, social media coverage really isn't the sole way that an advocate will drive value to your brand.



Content

They aren't called "content creators" for nothing! There are thousands of extremely talented creators on social media ready to produce high-value stills and videos of your product. A well-planned contract with your chosen advocate will allow you to repurpose the content they have created for you in your own campaigns. Whilst usage rights will raise the fee of the contract, the end result will still be much more affordable, and much more impactful than a creative production agency would produce. It's been proven time and time again that the media which performs best on social media is content which doesn't look like a brand produced it. So why don't you get the experts to create it for you?


True advocacy

As we've said before - don't fall for the promise of a quick win. The reason we at HappyCat. use the word advocate is because when done right, that is the ideal relationship between the brand and the creator. These "influencers" are the key opinion leaders in their peer group. Their friends, family and followers look to them for recommendations on brands and products. They are respected by journalists and other creators. If they truly believe in you and your offering, they'll spread your message far and wide on your behalf, without you ever having to ask them to. That is true advocacy.


Constructive review

Similarly to their advocating power, their legacy and experience will provide unmatchable value to your product development. Content creators know their audience (your potential customers) inside out. They know what makes them tick, and what makes them click. They have had access to thousands of brands and hundreds of thousands of products, giving them elevated knowledge of quality and functionality. Whether you are a startup, a small business or an industry giant; with the right relationship, feedback from your advocates will help you to improve your brand, product and marketing efforts.


So why is everyone so obsessed with the social objectives? It's simply because they are the easiest to measure. It's impossible to track the way an advocate talks about your brand over brunch with her friends. It's more difficult to quantify user experience feedback or a bank of beautiful assets than it is to measure reach or engagement. The most successful campaigns will be multidimensional, delivering online KPIs supported by building brand love, trust and proximity.


- Geo, Founder and Director at HappyCat.

Updated: Mar 2, 2020



In short - building a meaningful, impactful relationship with key advocates of your brand will (and should) take time.



Position yourself in the place of the advocate; not only do they get approached by thousands of brands to collaborate in some way or another, but they also have an existing list of favourite brands and products, some of which they've been using for years. If you jump in with a brand new offering, especially if they haven't heard of you yet, a quality content creator will want to get to know you and experience your product before they decide if they want to advocate your brand. The goal here is for your product to fit seamlessly into their life.


At this point, it will then take time to discuss and decide how the partnership will work, and the most valuable advocates will invest in producing high-quality content to show your product in the best light possible to their dedicated and engaged audience.


WARNING! There are a lot of agencies out there who will promise to deliver guaranteed fast, cheap (sometimes free) content through a mass list of "influencers". It's not difficult to find people on social media willing to guarantee a post in exchange for free stuff, but it is very unlikely that they will have any level of connection to your brand. They are more likely to regularly post advertorial content for multiple low-quality brands, and most importantly most of them will be willing to post without having even tried your product.


On paper it will look like these agencies have delivered for you, as the numbers of posts start stacking up, but how many of these same-pose-posts are actually driving sustainable value to your brand? Spoiler: none.


In order to grow your brand in a meaningful way watch out for "quick wins" as they'll deliver very little and cost a lot more in the long run. Instead, invest in the time it takes to grow powerful relationships with respected content creators. They'll fall in love with your product, and through their collaboration with you, their army of fans will too.


- Geo, Founder and Director at HappyCat.
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