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The Real Value of Influencer Collaborations? Think Long Term

Nowadays, the word “influencer” is part of most people’s vernacular. Ten years ago, however, this wasn’t the case. Influencer collaborations as a marketing vehicle have skyrocketed over the last decade, primarily because it plays heavily on the age-old tactic of word-of-mouth marketing. At the onset of influencer marketing’s rise to prominence, many consumers felt strongly connected to their favorite influencers. They viewed influencers as their trusted friends and not the digital billboards many argue they’ve become. Say what you will about influencer marketing, but you can’t argue with its popularity among marketers. Influencer marketing is set to be a $13.8 billion industry in 2021, up almost $5 billion from 2021. Influencer marketing isn’t going away anytime soon. Yet, there’s still a huge missed opportunity within influencer collaborations, and many brands are not utilizing those relationships to their full potential.

Common Objections to Repurposing Influencer-generated Content

Assuming lower-priced and higher-performing content is appealing to all brands, why don’t more marketers repurpose influencer content? The most common pushbacks from marketers on the subject of reactivating influencer-generated content are the following:

1. “We lack creative control of influencer content.”

First, consider that having “creative control” may not be necessary. Start by building trusted relationships with influencers who are thoughtful, creative, and have taken the time to understand your brand’s aesthetic. If you’re looking for specifics in the content, lay them out in a brief for the influencer to review before creating it.

Avoid the urge to be a complete control freak, but don’t shy away from providing feedback on how you’d like them to alter or refine their work in an ongoing relationship. Influencers appreciate the input and have commonly told Cohley they prefer over communication to limited instruction.

2. “The content quality isn’t up to par, and we don’t trust influencers to do a good job.”

Regarding the video or photo quality being lower quality compared to professional content, consider the success of user-generated content (UGC). Studies have shown that ads featuring UGC have up to 4X higher click-through-rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average ads. Those are powerful figures. AdWeek reported that 85% of users surveyed find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos.

The power of UGC, which is by definition not professionally produced, is well-documented and understood. So why not just use UGC and skip the influencer content? Here are few reasons:

With UGC, you can’t control the inbound flow of content and which products are featured

Small brands don’t typically garner enough UGC, while big brands have too much to sort through

On average, only 1 in 10 UGC photos is considered “usable”

Influencer-generated content perfectly bridges the gap between UGC and professionally produced content.

Also, remember that quality is subjective and varies from person to person. It tends to be more about whether the content fits within the brand aesthetic or not. If you find influencers that are talented content creators but don’t necessarily align with your aesthetic, don’t require them to post on their social channels. Instead, work with them with the sole goal of repurposing the content. An influencer’s feed is sacred to them, so they typically don’t like to stray too far from the aesthetic they’ve worked hard to build. By skipping a social post altogether, you’re making it easier for the influencer to follow your brand’s guidelines.

3. “The influencers we work with are too expensive”.

On the influencer pricing front, you can shift the perceived value of influencer collaborations by thinking about both the long-term benefits of partnerships (content acquisition) and the short-term (follower growth, web traffic, etc.). It should be considered “working spend” because the content is being pushed out to each influencer’s audience. When influencers speak to their audiences, they tend to listen.

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