This is the ONLY way you can -- and should -- make money as an influencer
Over the past week alone, I've been in meetings with 9 different brands, 4 of which are international. A common theme that I noticed for all the international brands that got in touch with us in Blogapalooza is that they're extremely choosy and very specific about the type of influencer that they want to engage for their campaigns.
International brands, at least those that I've recently spoken with, know that follower count in Instagram is not a good way to gauge potency of influence or effectiveness to convert, as some influencers have a huge follower base only because:
1. They are good-looking, sport beautiful outfits, and/or have a nice body. They're a visual treat when we scroll through our feed!
2. In photos they post, they are almost always half-naked (or... I'd say 3/4 or more. LOL do they need help in covering up?) Read: boobs and butt galore!
3. They take really good photos and/or editing is always on point
4. They work with celebrities all the time (i.e., fans follow them to get a glimpse of their idols) OR they are relatives/close friends of famous people
Brands are becoming more and more intelligent and they're getting help from plenty of people who are experts in the industry, across the world. Thought leaders are emerging here and there, having their own take on important issues in the influencer marketing space. Because of this, I seem to observe that without even using any tools or tech systems, brands can already tell the difference between a really influential influencer and an influencer that's only a feast for the eyes (and that's all).
Why am I telling you this?
Because in the conversations I had recently, I realized the following:
1. There are low barriers to entry in being a blogger / social media influencer / online content creator. This means that anyone can just create an account in a platform and they are technically qualified to be called as an "online content creator" already.
2. As there are no standards yet in influencer compensation (at least here in the Philippines and in most of Southeast Asia), influencers can command huge amounts of compensation for a campaign they're not even a good fit for.
3. There are influencers that post just for the sake of posting, without regard to what the brand's content guide, goals, and communication strategy is, but still enjoy a great deal of content projects because of perceived value.
4. Influencers that know how to create quality content and have mastered "the art of soft selling" are a rare find. Remember, people dislike being constantly sold to.
And more importantly, I realized that whatever crests and troughs the influencer marketing industry will go through in the next years, there will only be a special selected few who will make it. There will only be a few chosen ones who will have real staying power.
Which influencers can you think of have real staying power and why?
I'd like to believe, they are those that CREATE REAL, STRATEGIC VALUE.
What does that mean?
Creating strategic value for brand partners can mean plenty of things depending on the vertical, but here are some pointers that may be helpful for when an influencer works with brands:
1. Understand the communication strategy of the brand and the key message/s of the campaign. Don't just post the product, the hashtag, or worse, copy-paste whatever's on the press release! (I cringe every time I see articles/captions/phrases that I know are directly lifted from the press release or content guide.) What does the brand want to achieve? What does it want to communicate? How can you help the brand communicate this to your audience, in a way that they will appreciate, in a way that they can relate to, in a way that is congruent to your personal branding?
2. Be mindful of the KPIs of the campaign. Remember, the brand did not get you to be pretty and glorify yourself. Sure, they're putting you at the driver's seat, but you're there to provide value for them, not to you. How can you create content that will help the brand achieve its goals? How can you formulate a piece of content that will more likely lead to contibuting to the achievement of the KPI? You are the servicing party in the engagement, and so it is upon your shoulders to make it worth their resources.
3. Get to know the brand, their product, and the story they want to tell -- and be genuine about your approach. Sure, they got you for the campaign, but don't feel entitled -- never feel entitled. Being chosen for campaigns and/or being invited to events is always a privilege. It's always an honor to be trusted, so do your brand partners a favor and be a good influencer partner to them as well. Emphasize on partner, because I view the business-influencer relationship as a partnership rather than a client transaction.
In your next projects with brands, remember to tell yourself this: The value to the partner must always be greater than the amount they pay.
Create real, strategic value. This is the mindset of the most successful people in business. This is the ONLY way you can -- and should -- make money, regardless of what you do.