Vamp recently joined an expert panel for AIMCO’s inaugural webinar to unpack the influencer selection process for brand engagements.
Our Head of Content, Lauren Thomas, discussed what matters most for brands and why vetting for brand safety is an essential part of the selection process. For anyone that didn’t catch the webinar, here are the juicy takeaways.
With so many amazing creators out there, choosing collaborators can be a daunting task. How should brands and agencies navigate this?
The decision process for this is usually very outcome-focused so it really depends on the client and their objectives. Some might favour influencers with the highest engagement, while some are looking for reach, or local audience or a particular content aesthetic. So that’s the kind of information we surface for clients at the selection stage, so they can make informed decisions. We’ll sometimes get hundreds of applications to a brief, which can be daunting! So the brand needs that tech to assist their selection.
We also have a creator sampling tool which helps brands find particular types of influencers. A client can say what they’re looking for and our software will go through all of our influencer’s content and present the best fit.
Some consistent recommendations are: high-quality content creators – choosing influencers who are going to go above and beyond to make sure their content stands out. And selecting a diverse squad. These are things we have seen work, so they are always things we recommend.
But ultimately, it’s not not a science. There will always be a level of subjectivity in that selection process. We can make recommendations based on the data, but you can never tell who the brand is going to select.
I think what’s really interesting is you’ll sometimes see a brand select nine influencers who are very in line with their brand and then they’ll try out one wild card option and it will actually be them who performs the best in that campaign! So I think using the data but keeping an open mind is really important.
We’ve now chosen our influencers, though do we really know enough about them? Back in 2018, The Australian Federal Government faced a backlash for a campaign that found the influencers they were working with had questionable associations and had partnered with other brand categories that led to the Federal Government banning the use of influencers. How does technology help with Brand Safety?
Yes brand safety is super important and I completely understand that as a concern for marketers. We take it really seriously and there are a number of ways technology can help.
Of course there are background checks. We have an invite-only community which is a great start but we know that’s not enough. So to continuously verify audience authenticity, we use computer vision algorithms to look for anomalies in the influencers feed and performance, if that flags anything then our team to review and take action. An example is if somebody has paid for fake followers or likes, we can then suspend or remove them from our community. Of course sometimes this is totally innocent, if a piece of content goes viral for example, in which case we take no action.
We get our data directly from Facebook’s API so we can be confident we’re providing clients with accurate information if that post has gone viral – or no matter about how their content is performing.
Another concern for brands can be competitor conflict. So we’ve built our briefing tool in such a way that creators that have worked with competitors can be excluded from a brief invite list and exclusivity can be included in the brief. We’re working on some tech right now which surfaces the last 60 days of paid campaign work, to better inform our clients about these competitor clashes.
Digital talent create content every day that appeals to their audience, understanding what works and what doesn’t. And brands what to connect with them. The desire is to create something that is authentic from the influencer to their followers. But, branded/paid content does not always get the same reaction or scale. What do you advise here?
Leave it up to the influencer! Give them the campaign information and overarching idea, but let them manage the execution. They know what resonates with their followers on a very personal level. The only reason a sponsored post doesn’t get the same reaction to their regular content is because it feels different from that creator’s usual style so automatically feels jarring to the follower. If you allow the influencer to keep their style, tone of voice and aesthetic then that doesn’t happen.
We advocate for open briefs and very often see a piece of branded content outperform the influencers usual engagement rate – so it’s definitely possible!
Having said that, social algorithms can be ‘unpredictable’ shall we say. So if reach and scale is a big priority for clients we’d recommend a boosting element which allows you to really target precise demographics and make sure you get that scale. You’re essentially amplifying that piece of authentic creator content.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, disclosure. In the UK the CMA, equivalent to the ACCC, have put 200+ influencers including 16 celebrities on caution regarding failure to disclose sponsored & paid content. The FCC in US has put influencers on watch around this topic. In July AIMCO included a section on disclosure in the code of practise, which highlights AANA guidance and Australian Consumer Law. What has been the reaction from the influencers you have worked with, when asking them to comply?
We’ve got influencers all around the world, operating within all different restrictions but we’ve not had any issues with them disclosing that the content is paid. I think there is this idea that they want to keep these collaborations quiet, but in my experience that’s really not the case. If an influencer has worked really hard to build a trusting relationship with their audience and only sharing products with them that they truly believe in, they have nothing to lose by being honest about that partnership. And nothing to gain by not being transparent. In some cases influencers will totally bring their audience along for the ride, they’ll have organically shared a product in the past, then they’ll get a paid collaboration and they’ll actually say ‘oh wow I’m now working with this brand, I’m an ambassador’ and their followers will be super supportive.
I think we have to also give audiences credit here. They know influencer marketing happens, but if they trust that influencer and they are giving them a recommendation that feels really relevant and sharing information, that isn’t going to be tarnished by knowing they have been asked to promote that product. The post still has a lot of value.
Many brands will be working with multiple influencers, with vast amounts of content being created and posted at different times. This sound like a logistical nightmare. How does your technology make life simple for brands?
Yes it can definitely be a lot! We had a Huawei campaign last year simultaneously running across nine countries, 184 creators, generating 1,117 pieces of content. But yes thankfully influencer marketing technology has come a long way and we have a platform that streamlines all of that! It’s super important because when you hear year-on-year that influencer budgets are going up and brands want to scale, they’re not going to be able to do all of that by themselves.
A big one is timeline management – and that coordinates the posting windows of each influencer. Notifications to both parties each day keep the campaigns on track. All of the content is in one place, all of the performance metrics are in one place so you essentially have this one portal to manage the whole process – and thankfully not a spreadsheet or screenshot in sight!
Of course if this still sounds like it’s too much, we have a campaign management option which uses our team of experts to handle everything for you.
Lastly before we go. In one word – what is it that brands want?
They want results. Beautiful content and a smooth collaboration process doesn’t really mean anything unless that campaign really delivers on those campaign objectives. So I think for platforms like us – and creators themselves – it’s really about being clear on those objectives from the start and being very outcome focussed.
Check out upcoming AIMCO webinars here.