The influencer (I prefer content creator) industry is mysterious. Things change almost daily, there are thousands (millions?) of “influencers” out there and more and more starting up each day. I’m not new to this industry. I’ve created content on this lil blog on and off for more than 6 years now and I work in social media professionally with lots of experience working directly with influencers on the brand side. Because of my unique situation, I feel like I have the authority to speak my mind about the brand-influencer relationship.
These are just a few of the top mistakes brands make when working with influencers. If you’re a brand looking for quality collaborations with quality content creators, I genuinely want you to succeed! Just make sure you’re not committing any of the following fouls.
Ask them to work for free.
I 100% get that budgets are tight. I have a small business of my own and we have not been able to afford to pay influencers to talk about our product. However, we have sent clothes (lots of clothes) and reposted their images on our own channels to spread the love. Sure, clothes don’t pay the bills (trust me, I know) but it’s more than nothing. Small, locally-owned businesses aside, if you’re a well known brand, you should not be asking any level blogger to work for free. You should carefully select who you think matches your brand best and allocate budget for them. This may mean a smaller list of bloggers, that’s fine! Collaborations take a lot more time to create than you think. I’ve spent 3 hours on a post, not to mention the cost of staging the photos or hiring a photographer, not to mention this all happens during the 2 days I have off during the weekend. Many of us work 2 (or more) jobs, have families, want to be able to get 7-9 ours of sleep at night and get to talk about your product, so please value our time, the following we’ve been able to collect and our unique voices/influence with some sort of mutually beneficial compensation.
Fail to reciprocate support.
One of my biggest pet peeves with brand collaborations is when the relationship feels completely one-sided. Sure, you’re “hiring” me to do work for you, but it goes a long way when a brand likes the photos I’m posting of their product, follows my account or even *gasp* comments on one of my pictures. I still don’t understand why companies pay influencers to create content around their product and then not use that content on their own channels – with credit of course. The road goes both ways, if you support me, I’m more likely to support you. And then I won’t delete your content down the road because I have ill feelings towards your brand. And just a hint: if you refuse to pay (because you can’t or just don’t want to), the least you could do is re-post their content on your brand’s pages so that you can reciprocate with new followers.
Demand too many or change requirements.
My second biggest pet peeve is when things change (in life and blogging). There should never be changes to a signed agreement, unless some unforeseen circumstances arise that require it. In that event, there should also be a change (read: increase) in compensation of some sort. When I worked on the brand side, contracts would change, however, we would always assuage the situation with some sort of compensation whether it was lessened number of deliverables or more money.
Which leads me to the deliverables conversation. The compensation must match the amount of deliverables. I once took on a project that had so many requirements, it was like they wanted to write the post for me. And many of those requirements didn’t make sense from a social media strategy perspective. This same project also changed the requirements after we had agreed to the terms, which really upset me, because it hindered my personal brand voice. Clearly outline all of the expectations plus compensation before you sign an agreement.
Dictate the imagery used on social media.
This rarely happens, but when brands try to control the imagery I use for a partnership, I politely decline. The same thing goes for brands who approach me about working together and can’t compensate me in any way but would be willing to give me images to use. I pride myself in (almost) always using my own photography and my social media accounts are all mine. They have a clear, cohesive look and you can tell when it’s not authentic. Providing images to use doesn’t help me at all, it actually hinders me. This trend should end today. I really love styled product shots, so just send me a product or give me a gift card to buy your product and I’ll create my own, unique content that you can then use as well!
Require tight deadlines.
I generally work from a content calendar which I plan a week or so (sometimes even a month) in advance. Often times this is because I have a line-up of brand collaborations that I need to push out. Besides my internal blog schedule, I am a very busy person and sometimes it isn’t feasible for me to shoot a styled product shoot within a week – especially when the weather is bad! I like to have at least 2 weeks to work on a collaboration, otherwise I’ll rush and produce subpar work. It’s also not a good idea for ongoing partnerships to be planned with little time between. For example, if your partnership requires 3 Instagram posts, don’t make the posting schedule every day or even every other day. I dislike posting about the same brand or product back-to-back and like to have at least a little bit of variety in my last 6 Instagram photos.
These are just a few recent mistakes that I’ve seen happen firsthand. There are so many more I’ve heard of from fellow blog friends (or experienced myself) that I could go on and on! Have something to add to the list? Leave it in a comment below!