Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
4 mins read

Influencer marketing and protecting brand values: How to get the balance right

Influencer marketing has become a commonly used alternative to traditional advertising and a great way to increase brand awareness and consumer reach in an authentic way. Although this can be extremely useful and cost-effective in building your brand in moments, it can also do the total opposite, so how can you get the balance right?

The influencer phenomenon

As a former content creator, I have worked and supported other creators in securing partnership deals. The millennial generation are becoming the world’s leading spenders and they trust user-generated content – particularly when the creators champion and align with their interests.

It is great to see how many brands have recognized that influencer marketing works for both performance and branding goals. In today’s world, the importance of user-generated content as a way to reach audiences is growing all the time, especially as it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach and persuade audiences using conventional media. It comes as no surprise that Gen Z name video games as their top entertainment activity (26%), followed by listening to music (14%), browsing the internet (12%) and engaging on social media (11%), leaving TV behind (Variety, 2021).

Whilst it can pay big dividends, it can be hard for brands to be open to new advertising methods and trust them with the values of their brand that have been so carefully built. Wanting to help other people navigate the space and having many years of experience, I founded an influencer management agency that has had the opportunity to grow over the years, and we now work with over 180 exclusive content creators. The agency allows us to bring a level of collaboration to influencer marketing so that you, as a brand owner or publisher, can be certain that your brand is protected and use the campaign to reinforce your brand values.

Importance of the right strategy and influencers

The most important component is developing a creative strategy that utilizes the right influencers on the best platforms to deliver the desired results and reach the target audience. As a brand looking to execute an influencer marketing campaign, influencers who align with the goals and values of the business are key. Unfortunately, it is not always as easy as it sounds to find the right influencer which is where agencies can come in and can undertake the necessary research required. Agencies are investing globally in expertise, contacts and tools to reach the right influencers and deliver the right strategy to drive growth for brands.

The increase in influencer marketing has led to the development of a range of software that can help brands identify the right fit for them. Using a combination of software that checks the influencer’s proven track record, conducting a content analysis and a brand safety check as well as checking the demographics and engagement analysis will ensure your brand is protected.

Protection of brand guidelines

A common fear that is highlighted by brands time and time again is that influencers will fail to adhere to the brand’s values (and guidelines) and will deviate from the key messaging. Influencers need to be provided with clear brand guidelines to make sure that businesses are represented correctly, influencers should also be screened to ensure alignment with brand values. Throughout the campaign day-to-day communication and reporting with the influencer must be managed to ensure messaging is consistent throughout. With these safety measures in place, through the brand and their agency, they have certainty that their brand is protected.

There are so many examples of when this has gone wrong due to a lack of research, thought, and the influencer not being the right fit. Although this happened 5 years ago, we all remember when YouTube influencer Logan Paul posted an extremely disrespectful and distasteful video of an encounter with a Japanese suicide victim and as a consequence, lost out on numerous brand partnerships. 

Keeping influencers on track

When investing time and spending money, we all want to see results. Yet, considering that product timelines shift constantly, internal approvals can be a long process and messaging can change – it can be a lot of work to keep influencers on board and keep up with an ever-changing schedule. Influencers also often wish to contact you at any time, day or night, and on platforms your business may not have access to. This is where agencies and project managers are a vital resource. They assist in managing time by taking over the responsibility of keeping up the communication, ensuring timelines are adhered to and above all, reviewing content, making sure it is on-brand, and in keeping with the key messaging.

There are so many media platforms that brands need to be aware of, and this is another area where working with a dedicated team can prove extremely useful. Twitch, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even campaigns in the Metaverse are important for brands to reach the right audience and raise brand awareness. From experience, good communication is one of the most important parts for a successful campaign as it gives you the opportunity to show influencers that they are valued and feel engaged with your brand.

Influencer marketing is a great way to advertise your products and reach the right audiences but there is a lot of work behind it. Digital agencies like AFK are professionalizing the industry, which is crucial to moving the influencer marketing industry forward.

Matt Woods
Founder and CEO of digital and influencer marketing agency AFK

AFK Creators was founded in 2018 and was working with over 750 creators, with a staff of 17 people, in Mid 2020. With the major shift of the consumption of entertainment/gaming online, AFK expanded the services it provides beyond talent management to consultancy and marketing campaign management securing clients such as Nord VPN and Manscaped, as well as expanding services to North America. The team has since grown to over 60 people, over 150 exclusive creators globally, as well as a wide network of creators in our database.