Balancing the needs of a brand and publishing believable content can be tricky for partnership professionals. You pay your partners for their authentic voices and creativity, but there’s always that little voice (sometimes coming from the executive suite) that says, “Stay on message!” It can be a big push-pull situation.
This tension is a common concern, so it’s no surprise that during our webinar: Influencer verzuz affiliate: Where the two channels differ, align, and win, our panel received several audience questions on the topic. The clock ran out during the webinar, but the panelists generously shared their insights with us afterward.
Answers to your burning questions about partnerships
Panelists Becca Bahrke, CEO Illuminate Social / Talent Partnerships Loki Artist Group, and Casey Runyan, VP and Managing Editor at Brad’s Deals, and the Impact team share answers to the challenges of partners maintaining authenticity with a brand keeping its voice and message intact.
Casey Runyan: VP and Managing Editor at Brad’s Deals (Linkedin)
(Want a quick recap of more insights from Becca and Casey? Check out: Who rules, affiliates or influencers? These experts might change your view.)
Audience question: How can I convince my leadership team to relinquish more creative control to our influencers?
Becca Bahrke: Start with a test campaign with a smaller ad spend than usual. Provide a limited brief such as required tags and hashtags, swipe-up link, and product focus. Then leave everything else open, and see what happens!
For the most part, influencers know what kind of content performs well on their channels, and they get more excited to create stunning content when they don’t feel so limited to copy a brief that is provided. They’re also more likely to over-deliver on what you paid for, such as by creating a video or posting extra content.
Audience question: How can you speak to influencer contribution and their value when executives or other marketing channels don’t believe in their impact?
Becca Bahrke: As of 2020, there were 500 million daily active users on Instagram spending roughly 27 minutes a day on the app. As you get more granular with demographics, that number can increase up to 2-4 hours among millennials and Gen Z, and that’s just on one social media app. Clearly, it would be a mistake to ignore this huge piece of landscape in the digital marketing world, especially when influencers can add testimonials and storytelling that help drive purchase intent and brand loyalty.
In fact, influencers can offer all the value of a successful brand campaign, with the added benefit that what consumers are seeing is from someone they know and trust.
To convince your stakeholders, it can be valuable to talk about and measure the entire journey. We know that consumers require multiple exposures to a brand or idea before they develop intent to purchase. By providing either multiple deliverables per influencer or targeting multiple platforms and working with influencers whose audiences cross over, you create a compelling campaign that accomplishes that goal in an authentic way.
For example, a consumer might see the first piece of content on Influencer A’s instagram feed, then again on Influencer A’s instagram story, and finally on Influencer B’s instagram feed and perhaps a targeted ad before they decide to make a purchase. It’s all working together, so it’s important to not just measure one influencer’s performance, but the collective efforts of your entire digital marketing plan, ensuring there are multiple touchpoints for each consumer.
Audience question: As a new affiliate manager for a growing health supplement brand, what advice do you have for my success?
Casey Runyan: First of all, welcome to the wonderful world of affiliate! I think the best advice I can offer is to always keep in mind that affiliate is all about partnerships. Your success will be directly correlated to the strength of the partnerships you are able to build. Spend time researching so that you understand what different publishers can do for you and know which relationships you want to focus on. I’ll also add that within this industry, there can be a fair bit of movement of people between publishers, advertisers, and networks. That means that the relationships you build with individuals can have an impact, positive or negative, well beyond the initial partnership. Over time, building a reputation as an affiliate manager who is great to work with will result in people who are excited to work with you when they move to a new role, opening up even more opportunities.
Audience question: What tools can be used to ensure our affiliates and influencers are on-brand with our mission?
- Qualitative and quantitative data-informed partner discovery – make sure that before you even begin a partnership, you have as much info as possible to QA a publisher or creator’s content, audience, and tone/visual identity across all of their platforms.
- Automated content review workflows – approve posts/promotions before they go live. This is a vital step for assuring that your partners are acting as a strong extension of your brand. But doing so at scale can be a burden without the right review infrastructure. Make sure you have the tools to easily exchange content and feedback with your partners so brand adherence is baked in.
- Social listening / compliance tools – as diligent as you may be before your partner’s activation goes live, you’ll still want information after it’s posted. Make sure you have social listening and compliance tools to automatically alert you if a post or promotion is at odds with your mission, message, or terms.
Audience question: As a brand with both influencer programs and affiliate programs, is it best to work with an affiliate such as rewardStyle and pay the influencers through there? Or manage it in-house directly?
- Deciding whether to manage influencer partnerships directly or through a partner like RewardStyle is a subjective matter – you need to assess which strategy best suits your business. Some factors to consider are:
- How resourced is your team to support influencer partnerships?
- What terms do you intend to extend to influencers?
- What are the short- and long-term goals for your influencer partnerships?
- How do you want your partnerships with individual creators to continue/evolve over a long time horizon?
Have more burning questions about affiliate or influencer partnerships? Reach out to a growth technologist for answers at email@example.com.