Unlike any other form of PR and marketing, influencers are humans, and with that comes unpredictability.
This year we’ve seen a host of influencer content crash and burn, and brands get caught up in the aftermath – stemming from a planned paid partnership or an innocent organic mention. But with 62 per cent of social-media users still trusting influencers more than celebrities, it’s unlikely that scandal will deter brands from future collaborations, even as we approach a looming recession and ROI is questioned.
Instead, the focus should be on preparedness, like any robust crisis plan. While the unpredictability of collaborating with an influencer will always remain, there are a number of points and actions that should be considered to help in safeguarding a brand’s reputation when partnering with an influencer.
1. Do your research
This comes right at the very beginning of considering whether to work with an influencer and should be done before any contract exchanges hands.
Carry out thorough research that provides confidence that the influencer is right for the brand.
While audience insights, platforms and past partnerships all come from the initial strategy, doing homework on the reputation of an influencer and any previous negatively received content, including those reported in the press, will fish out the fire starters.
2. Be collaborative
An influencer should be an extension of your marketing team – a content creator who provides a valuable service.
Work hard to fully immerse them in the brand, build a strong relationship and keep communication lines open, clear and transparent.
Having this foundation will mean that both of you can weather the storm together if it approaches.
3. Offer support
Some brands draw more attention from media and social-media audiences than others. Those that tend to spark heated discussions should ensure that a partnering influencer is well-prepped ahead of any content going live.
Provide FAQs or agreed responses ready to be used as replies to tricky audiences.
4. Be prepared
Like all forms of crisis comms, it’s good to be prepared. Being ready for any eventuality that may arise from partnering with an influencer will make handling issues that do arise much smoother.
Have a plan and processes in place for if things do go wrong, with scenarios played out and practised.
5. Measure the true impact
It’s easy to get caught up in the bad over the good, but if a brand does find itself in influencer hot mess, remember to look at the bigger picture.
Have a clear understanding of the true negative impact, possibly through sentiment analysis, to have a clear view on just how bad (or good) the situation really is.
Julie Brander is an associate director at Eat the Fox