“They’re NEVER Getting a Vehicle Again” – Why Corporations Need To Adapt When Working With Influencers
I’m Greg, from the duo Justin and Greg. We make content here in Saskatchewan on a daily basis. Yes, as everyone seems to ask us when we meet, this IS what we do for a living.
Now, as ‘luck’ would have it, there are times as content creators when you get to work with the big shiny national/international brands. Imagine if you’re building a business by taking Instagram photos of yourself in fun outfits (this is not what we do with Justin and Greg!), and a supplement company reaches out and says they want to partner with you. You would lose your mind because what this usually means is you’re about to get PAID by the big leagues! It’s a dream come true, and it happens on the daily all over the world in this new digital universe we all live in.
(Notice the #Ad in this post? This is becoming a lot more common place now, as people begin to want to know when someone is being paid to promote something.)
Well guess what! Just a few weeks ago, one of the national automobile dealers found out about what we’re doing with Justin and Greg and wanted to work with us! This was our moment to showcase what we could do for a big brand. We were excited. We were ready! This was going to be amazing.
Narrator: It wasn't.
A Crash Course on Influencer Marketing
Let’s take a moment and talk about Influencer Marketing for those who need to be brought up to speed. Influencer marketing is the marketing and advertising buzzword of 2017 & 2018 as dubbed by me. There isn’t a problem that influencer marketing can’t solve:
- Want to target high-school kids with your service. Ask an influencer.
- Trying to make your product seem hip and cool? Ask an influencer.
- Need someone to open a stuck jar for you or butter your bread? Ask an influencer!
When speaking plainly, “influencer marketing” is when a brand/company/organization teams up with someone who has a large audience of their own, and get them, whether through payment, experience or through product, to feature something they want to promote. Decades ago, the only people with audiences outside of traditional mediums were celebrities. Now through the internet and social it can literally be anyone, which is great if you’re trying to target a specific demographic that can be hard to get traction in – *cough like Saskatchewan.
It used to be a lot less obvious than it is now, but you’ll notice these sponsored posts on social as often people will use #ad to specify that they are being paid to share what they are talking about. The ad standards with this stuff is constantly changing and can be a bit unclear, but a rule of thumb would be to assume that when someone is promoting a product, there’s a good chance they are getting paid to promote it unless they specify otherwise,
Now with any partnership there is always give and take. Brands want to make sure they work with partners who will represent them well, and creators want to work with brands that are cool, pay well, offer great experience or even all of the above.
When done well, influencer marketing can be an AMAZING strategy that can take brands and start ups from inception to 100 million dollar companies in a few years. I just read that Tinder used this exact strategy, and well, you’ve heard of Tinder right?
And when done wrong? Well, as you can imagine there are little to no results for the company and the influencers can often look like in bad actors hawking goods they’ve never tried. It’s a lose-lose.
And there in lies the rub with advertising/influencer marketing as a whole; what companies want from influencer marketing is a genuine endorsement from these influencers, but often, due to the fact that they are footing the bill, what they require is access to the copy + image + and over all art direction of whatever the influencer is posting.
This sucks for everyone involved? Because it’s just another ad in a different medium. PEOPLE HATE ADVERTISING.
We Screwed It Up
So, fast forward to our BIG BREAK with this company. We were committed to helping them out by creating a fun piece of content using there vehicle as a character in our story, in a way that showed off the features of the vehicle without being obvious or salesy. (People don’t hate ads that are fun – think Super Bowl ads)
And guess what? It worked! We created 15-minute VLOG where we got friends together creating what we dubbed a GO-WERK space – “the worlds first mobile co-working space” – where we showed of the vehicles WIFI, massaging seats, leg room, moon roof and more. The feedback on the spot was strong too with people admitting they watched the whole thing, understanding it was a commercial for the car company, and yet, not caring because it was entertaining and interesting. THIS IS THE HOLY GRAIL OF ADS. When people seek to watch your ad you’re doing something right as our friends at Cadbury know oh so well!
We. Were. Thrilled.
So when it was sent to the brand we were expectant for their feedback on our hard work and creativity. What we got was something quite the opposite.
“You’re NEVER getting a vehicle ever again” we were told. I guess we had missed the mark all together.
“Ok. That’s fine with us,” we said. You see, their expectation of us was that we would do a typical car review, asking our audience to listen to us as we went over the features of the vehicle, effused praise for how amazing it was, and showed it off in high end photos all over our social profiles. The problem? Our audience doesn’t want to watch that.
Now, you’re probably thinking one of two things:
- You must be devastated – to be honest we were almost expecting it given the fact that big brands can often be their own worst enemy when it comes to their image. We weren’t sad that the weren’t happy with what we made them, because in the end, the car company is wrong; it’s a great piece of content, that featured their product in an interesting way. Slam dunk!
- Or, you guys deserved that criticism because you didn’t respect the vehicles brand –And while we may not have adhered completely to their brand guidelines, we were vigilant in ensuring that we didn’t disrespect the brand either. Oh, and they chose us. We’re not about to change who we are to fit them, right?
So Where Do Corporations Go From Here?
Brands and corporations need to realize that when they work with influencers the BEST way to be successful to follow these 4 simple rules:
- Ask without expectation – Get them to review your product and if they do, understand that they might not like it. As soon as companies cross the line into gussied up high-gloss ads, you’re not fooling anyone. Sure the influencer gets paid, and the brand gets a nice piece of content/endorsement, but the audience that everyone is trying to speak to (the influencers audience) isn’t fooled.
- Understand who you’re working with so that there’s a right FIT with who you’re asking to promote your product – Think Brad Pitt advertising for Candy Crush. It’s weird right?
- Reassess your desire to use influencers to help promote your product – I’ve alluded to this earlier, but maybe influencers aren’t the right strategy for your product. Yeah, the strategy is new and exciting but don’t try and force it if it’s not there. There are LOTS of other mediums that can help get you attention.
- Be willing to let go of control of the outcome – The influencers you’re working with know their audiences better than you. Trust that they’ll get the message across that they’ve agreed to do on your behalf, even if it doesn’t look 100% like you might expect.
Stop advertising. Start creating.
*If you’re curious about the video we’re talking about, and want to draw your own conclusions, you can find it – > here. Let us know what you think!