Vicki Harper is part of the social media team at The Difference Collective.  Here she shares her tips for those OTC and GSL consumer healthcare brands looking to work with influencers.

Working with Influencers: Where to start 

Working with influencers is part of the fabric of any solid communications programme. Whatever the sector, raising awareness and driving trial through advocacy is no longer a nice-to-have. Aligning your brand or service to people who will shine a light on it and help you access new customers plays a critical part in the success of your online (and offline) activity.

The influencer ‘industry’ has long-since clocked this; talent agencies specialising in influencer marketing have sprung up and there’s a plethora of sophisticated planning tools for identifying those with the best fit or auditing for authenticity and performance.

Whether paid or organic, big budget or minimal, whether you work in a comms agency or in-house, here are a few top tips for dipping your toe into the influencer pool.

  1. Be ready. Get ahead by immersing yourself in the world of Instagram. Hang out there for long enough and you’ll become familiar with the names and faces you might want to recommend for an influencer campaign. Look at who they hang out with, the people they tag, the people that comment and engage with them, the events that they attend, and the brands they already work with.

2. Use aggregated lists (Top 10/20/50 etc.) to start to build lists of influencers that chime with your target audience. Sense-check them. Make sure you have a diverse range of individuals, truly representative of and aligned with your target audience.

3. What are the critical factors that you need to fulfil?  How do your influencers track against them? Consider a scoring system to prioritise those influencers you want to work more closely with in paid partnerships, perhaps.

4. Don’t go large. Not always, anyway. Think less about the size of influencer’s following and more about the quality. Look at Micro (5,000-50,000 followers) and Nano (1,000-5,000 followers) influencers who have built really engaged communities around a particular niche.

5. Use online communities. If you are reaching out to a new audience and you’re not familiar with who influences them, talk to online community founders. They are a gateway to groups of people. Some aggregate around a life stage, lifestyle, work, hobby or gender, and most will have a media pack of how you can work with them.  They’ll help you define the right influencers for your brand (note – they might charge a small commission on top of the influencer fee).  Spend time immersing yourself in how they work, their modus operandi and where the opportunities are.

6. Be specific. What is the purpose of you working with a particular influencer? What will genuinely add value to your audience? Define what you are asking them to do and what you want their followers to do.

7. Consider the total impact. if you’re bringing together a paid influencer programme comprising activity with several individuals and/or communities, look at the sum of the parts. How does it all fit together? How are you maximising their fans & followers to bring them into the brand?

8. Be authentic. Make sure you’re working closely with the influencers you’ve chosen to partner with to create authentic content that resonates and engages with their audience. Don’t try and impose an idea on them. Authenticity is critical for credibility.  Saying the right thing in the right tone in a way that your target audience want to be talked to. 

 9. Consider advocacy like this as part of an overall social media and comms strategy rather than in isolation. Be active and engaging on social media before you start working with influencers and consider how you can work with these people off the platforms too, e.g. sponsorship, events, as brand ambassadors.

 10. How can you measure the effect of the work you’re doing with influencers? Refer to your campaign objectives – business, comms and social – and consider them from the outset. Be specific about the expectations you have of your influencer – from delivery times to the hashtags, image use, wording and mechanics that you need to help achieve those objectives – and ask them to provide their analytics once the project is complete. Consider how the stats they give you have nudged the dial on the set objectives, how they can inform future campaigns and whether to repeat.

And finally, these two are must-knows….

CEO and founder of global marketing agency, Steven Bartlett, is at the forefront of influencer marketing (among others things, check out his podcast) and delivers honest vignettes on his IG feed about social media and the sometimes-skewed perspective it portrays. He is a brilliant motivational speaker pedalling in truth and honesty. 

The Advertising Standards Association (ASA) have set guidelines to effect transparency around brand/influencer relationships.  The rules around working with influencers have been tightened.  It is both the brand’s and the influencer’s responsibility to make sure it’s clear to consumers that content has been posted online in return for a payment or payment in kind. 

Check out their handy flow chart to determine whether and how you are obliged to convey the nature of the content.



About the Author

Vicki Harper is a senior communications consultant: a social media strategist with 20 years PR agency experience behind her specialising in female-first brands across multiple sectors, public and private.  She would describe herself as a PR/social media hybrid which means the social media campaigns she devises are rooted in strategy and amplify the wider marcomms campaign.

Setting and devising social media strategies, deploying engaging campaigns and negotiating partnership deals, Vicki is well-networked among the vibrant online communities aggregating around health and fitness, in particular running. She works with key influencers, bloggers and journalists to grow and foster Go Faster Food fans and followers creating content and connections to fully embed the brand among its core audience.

Vicki is one of our Collective Members.

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