6 Ways retail brands can excel at influencer marketing

Rachael Swerdon

This post was originally created by Spredfast before Spredfast and Lithium merged and became Khoros.

Social media influencers have thousands who follow their life experiences online daily. They cultivate a sense of aspiration in their audiences through posts that depict their seemingly adventurous and glamorous lives. Brands have recently taken notice of this viral power to establish genuine customer love and loyalty through partnership with influencers. Some companies have merely scratched the surface of this potential power, while others have cultivated sophisticated partnerships. No matter where your brand stands on influencer marketing, we rounded up six quick tips to keep in mind to leverage an influencer’s potential:

1. Align values

Finding the right influencer can be a bit overwhelming at first because there are thousands of active influencers online. A good way to cut through the clutter and find the right influencer for your brand is to find someone who is ideally an individual you would want to speak on behalf of your brand—someone who is a physical representation of your brand. This may seem obvious, but it’s very important that the influencer you choose holds the same values and is passionate about the same things your brand is.

For example, founder of HBFIT and Adidas ambassador, Hannah Bronfman promotes brands that embody health, fashion and fitness. These values play a crucial part in her life, and her passion for these products makes it easy to promote a brand she genuinely loves and uses. When the brand and influencer are on the same page, content comes naturally. More importantly, your brand can trust that the influencer will present the product in a positive light to followers.

2. Encourage tagging

As a brand, it’s crucial to stay top of mind due to the large amount of content and short attention span of followers. With these things in mind, you need to encourage the influencer to tag your brand, its products, vital locations and other influencers in posts on a consistent basis. This not only strengthens the relationship between you and the influencer, but also shows their followers that they truly believe in and use your brand.

Encourage the influencer to tag your brand, its products, vital locations and other influencers in posts.

Travel filmmaker Sam Kolder promotes a watch manufacturer called MVMT, several luxury hotels and other travel photographers by tagging each in his Instagram photos. This gives life to the brands by fitting them seamlessly into the influencer’s already established lifestyle. Sam’s photos create a sense of longing because his followers now desire these products. They want to live like he does, and doing so means using the same products. Ultimately, Sam’s Instagram account gives users a platform to consume visual advertising on a very intimate level.

3. Live the brand

As mentioned above, a brand needs to be represented as an essential aspect of the influencer’s life. A product or service used on a daily basis that improves their life in a specific way, engages consumers. Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman do a great job of promoting their company Monday Swim & Activewear on Instagram. Their daily stories for example, take you with them as they travel to different beaches around the world wearing their swimsuit and workout line. They create an ideal scenario for what working out and wearing the swimsuits is like through photos.

Simultaneously, they flip that fantasy on its head with a more light-hearted and approachable take on their stories. The duo laughs and jokes while on video yet is modelesque in their photo feed. The aspect that remains constant between these two approaches is the fact that they are wearing and promoting their brand on a consistent basis. Tash and Dev do a great job of showing their followers a complete picture of their daily life. This not only gives the brand life, but strengthens the desire to own the product and live like the influencer does.

4. Consider vlogging

Tash and Dev share a glimpse of their glamourous life through Instagram stories, which is another powerful technique brands can use to establish brand love. One way to take advantage of video storytelling is to create a mini vlog from the influencer’s point of view, via the brand or influencer’s social media account. Reebok does this very well with their influencer and CrossFit athlete, Katrin Davidsdottir. During the the 2017 CrossFit Games Katrin showed her followers a competitor’s perspective via Instagram stories.

Followers were given a behind-the-scenes look at her experience, while also being exposed to the customized, colorful and sleek Reebok merchandise she wore throughout the four day event. An influencer’s visual story gives personality to the brand that followers can easily relate to. Followers feel as if they are experiencing the CrossFit Games with Katrin because they get a mental glimpse of what she goes through before and after the highly anticipated workouts. Reebok really capitalized on this technique by giving their brand a vulnerability that many people naturally appreciate and accept.

An influencer’s visual story gives personality to the brand that followers can easily relate to.

5. Ask for feedback

Constructive criticism can be very beneficial when it comes to improving a product, and giving a voice to your target audience. An influencer can be the bridge between brand and consumer to start a conversation that can potentially improve a product or general brand loyalty. Travel Youtubers The Vagabrothers, often ask their followers for feedback on travel tips and products they use on a regular basis. They even devote entire videos to travel essentials like backpacks and camera gear along with their practical uses.  

Encouraging a forum style discussion breaks down barriers, and puts the brand and consumer on an even playing field. Brute honesty can be harsh at times, but brands will know exactly where they stand if they reach out to their audience. This also gives an outsider’s perspective to uncover aspects of the brand often overlooked internally. It’s good to take a step back and see your brand from a customer’s point of view.

6. Be cautious

With all these tips in mind, it is very important to exercise caution when choosing an influencer to represent your brand. Establishing a point of contact and trustworthy relationship with your influencer can ward off fake influencer scams. According to an Instagram influencer case study by Mediakix, “Some influencers are taking advantage of this market demand by buying fake followers and engagement to artificially inflate their clout.”

Some practical ways to avoid these scams include meeting the influencer in person or virtually before working with them, setting up recurring meetings and exchanging contact information. Additionally, be on the lookout for influencer accounts that use stock photos and generic account names. A general awareness for these scams will not only help you avoid fake influencers, but will also encourage an investment in time and research when searching for the right brand influencer.

With all these suggestions in mind, your brand can use digital word of mouth to influence your target audience. Retail brands need to find a way to best reach their audience without being an obvious advertisement. Influencers are a unique outlet that take advertising a step further by showing the customer how a brand can complement and improve life.

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