Have you been wanting to develop an influencer program for your arts and craft company but didn’t know where to start? The social media landscape can be loud and overwhelming for brands looking for influencers, and the process can be challenging to navigate. This article breaks down the realities of this partnership work and important things to consider when getting started.
Why Should You Use Influencers?
Companies have long relied on internal team members for rush retailer requests, web site projects, photography, and point-of-promotion inspiration. But in the online/social media age, a popular blogger or Instagram user can be an authority/outside the box thinker on your product and also have a following that eclipses your brand. As a brand you can leverage these online authorities to spread the word, drive sales, and also capture your product in an entirely different and authentic way. For example, it can be much easier for a creative influencer to capture an at-home lifestyle shot as opposed to you spending hundreds of dollars in resources to recreate a scene in a studio setting. Influencers bring a creative eye/process to content creation that your internal team simply can’t. Often it’s better to go to the source instead of imitate it!
Not All Influencers Are the Same
When it comes to influence, one size does not fit all! In fact, there are different reasons to partner with influencers. Some influencers have a large audience to drive a brand promotion, while others may have a small audience but wide influence on a specific topic. The influencer with 20,000 engaged followers on a niche topic like rubber stamping could be more beneficial than a general crafter with an audience of 200,000. In order to know which one works for your brand, you will need to test the waters and see which one drives a specific goal-oriented result.
When it comes to influence, you can be a strong influencer on one or multiple platforms. For example, an influencer on TikTok may not have a large following on other social channels, while a craft blogger could have sizable page views and also a large following on Instagram and Facebook.. Don’t expect a blogger who is amazing at writing/photography and Instagram to also be able to create a viral TikTok. Some influencers are only skilled on specific platforms and types of content creation.
When selecting influencers, be thoughtful of who you choose to represent your brand. Be mindful of inclusion and develop partnerships with people who have diverse ages, races, genders, and backgrounds. Your online followers and end consumer wants to see a reflection of themselves in the people you collaborate with.
Knowing Your End Goal in an Influencer Partnership
Many brands want to work with influencers, but aren’t always clear on a mutually-beneficial outcome. Before you begin a partnership, get clear with your end result and/or the metrics you hope to gain. Here’s just a few ways influencers can impact your sales and market your business:
– Drive sales to a new product on your web site using an influencer promotion code
– Partner on a giveaway that helps you gain followers on a social media site
– Make blog posts that deliver increased page views or Pinterest repins for your brand
– Represent your brand on LIVE videos or tradeshow events
– Serve as focus group/product testers for new product releases
It’s also important to get clear on the length of a partnership. Some brands like to find a handful of people they can rely on for an extended period of time, while others like to do work on one-time projects. As a company, there is value in both, but know that working with many influencers on one-time projects can be time consuming as there can be many touchpoints in the outreach - from introductions to negotiations to product mailings to project direction/creation. Finding people you trust for more than one project can be very beneficial and streamline your internal team’s work.
What to Look For in an Influencer & What an Influencer Expects of You
Having managed creative influencers for many years, I was able to narrow down the qualities and criteria I looked for in a partnership. Much like managing an internal employee, it’s important that your influencer partner be timely in communication, meet deadlines, have good photo/video/writing skills (not mutually exclusive), add creative flair, have a hand with your product, and take direction. Before committing to a long-term partnership with any influencer make sure to work with them on a project or two to see the results of your partnership. This can save you lots of time, effort, and headaches in the long run.
And when working with influencers, know that they also are looking for you to provide many of these similar qualities. Influencers want to work with brands who value their work, provide a signed contract, pay on time, and provide excellent and timely communication. So please don’t ask for unreasonable demands in exchange for exposure, set impractical deadlines, or ask for a video to go viral. You might just be exposed for bad practices in an influencer Facebook group...I’ve seen many brands called out for this.
What You Should Pay an Influencer
Payment is the biggest hot-button topic in regards to influencers and within reason. Here’s the scoop: influencers want to be paid money for their work. Having worked for many craft companies, I know the budgets for such influencer programs can be mid to non-existent. If you are reading this in 2020, just know that part of your marketing spend allocation should be spent on influencers. If you aren’t, you should be either paying in extensive product and/or compensating in other ways like gift cards. The reality is that people want to be paid for their work and many people are now more wise to their value/worth these days.
This being said, it’s smart to align with influencers who already have an affinity and love for your product. If they are already using your product organically in your feed, they would be excited to work with you for payment or an exchange of keeping them well stocked on their product of choice.
There’s no exact template for pricing negotiations for influencers, but realize that the larger the numbers of followers, the more you generally will have to pay. If you are scoping out an influencer who is currently doing sponsored work, they are probably wise to brand budgets and may have higher fees. Sometimes smaller, emerging artists/crafters are more excited and eager to work with you and can be more aligned with your budget. Be clear on your request and show genuine interest in developing a relationship with them. Many times influencers are willing to meet you at your price or reduce their rate if your interactions are respectful and kind.
In overview, working with influencers can pay off big in finding new creative inspiration and content for your brand. As many fiscal years are about to hit, it’d be a good time to assess your marketing budget allocation to work with influencers as well as work up new internal processes/systems to help set you up for success. The best thing is to get started and learn as you go; from experience, influencer partnerships can result in some game-changing results.
Alexa Westerfield is multi-faceted marketer, designer, and lifelong crafter. Professionally she’s worked for over 15 years with craft companies like Tulip, Aleene’s, Artbin, and DecoArt as a designer and marketing strategist guiding content campaigns, influencers, and retailer relationships. In addition, she’s created viral crafted content for her blog theswelldesigner.com and has produced short form video and creative content for brands like Darby Smart, Association for Creative industries, and Alt Summit. Her work has been featured on The Rachael Ray Show, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and Today.com.