In an industry that is ever changing, influencer marketing is the new and powerful way for businesses to promote their products or services. With the rise of social media platforms, low cost video production tools and ad-blocking, influencer marketing is on the rise especially in Canada.
With influencer marketing, the focus is placed on an individual who shares a message to their audience. Influencers have large followings, and use social media as their tool to communicate to them. This type of marketing is beneficial for companies who need more exposure, or want to saturate a new audience.
Influencer marketing is very niche, so there are a lot of unanswered questions making it difficult for businesses to collaborate with an influencer. In hopes of shedding some light on this subject, here are 6 realities that all influencers in Canada face:
Photo cred – @pexels
1. The competition out there is real
Social media is huge. With so many people actively using it every single day, it can be hard to get brands that you want to work with to notice you.
I’ve learned the best way to promote yourself on social media is to actively seek out brands that you want to work with. Often times, businesses will reach out to you but you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to them as well. Consider tagging them in your pictures or in your caption so that your profile shows up on their radar.
YouTuber, Rachel David also suggests to become friends with gatekeepers who are working with brands that you would like to work for in the future!
“Just introduce yourself let us know you’re interested in connecting even if it’s just for a quick skype call. It’s important to build those relationships because ultimately thats a huge source of revenue stream for creators.”
Another option is seeking collaborations from an influencer marketing agency, network or platform. In the words of beauty influencer, Ymorbeauty:
“The majority of my collaborations stem from relationships I have with brands after reaching out to them—but recently—I have joined various (contract-free) influencer marketing platforms that facilitate sponsorships I would not have had access to on my own.”
These platforms help get you noticed by brands who are seeking out influencers to work with. In Canada there are a variety of different influencer marketing agencies, networks and platforms to work with like Studio71, Much Digital Studios, Kin community, Goji Studios in Quebec, Cue Digital Media, Bell Media, MNP LLP, Corus and many more!
Photo cred – @pexels
2. In order to build your network, you need to be prepared to put in some work
As an influencer, building your “portfolio” of experience requires time and effort. You want to make sure you stand out over all the other influencers doing the same thing, so your portfolio should take you some time. Influencers use their portfolios to book collaborations with brands, and brands look at certain things – like if you’re being consistent with your work, or if you’re posting quality content – in order to book those collaborations.
Don’t just take it from me. David U.K, CEO at Cue Digital Media, says that some of the most important criteria when evaluating which influencers to work with is authentic following, engagement rate, consistency in post frequency, and ease of communication.
Photo cred – @lioninthewild
3. Success can be hard to measure
In the influencer marketing industry, success can be difficult to measure, specially if you are not working with an agency or an influencer platform. Most influencers have a business profile on Instagram which allows them to get specific information on their posts like engagement, reach, impressions, profile views, and website clicks. If you have a business profile, you can also see your story insights as well. Influencer, Ymorbeauty, uses Instagram insights along with other key tools that help her measure her performance:
“As a one-woman- show, I monitor my growth and influence through a number ways. Google Analytics is a major source of information, if you use it to its full extent. Another great tool is Instagram Insights, which calculates weekly Impressions, Reach, and Website clicks. There is also the good ol’ fashion e-mail or DM from a reader showing me they picked up the shampoo I just talked about.”
Subscriber count/followers, engagement through likes/comments and call to actions are key !
Photo cred – @alyssalenore
4. Compensation is a very grey area
If you’re just starting out as an influencer, you’re probably not always getting compensated. Companies might provide you with free products; but if a company is asking you to bend over backwards for them, don’t be afraid to discuss compensation:
“In my opinion, if you have a long list of bullet points that you wish your influencer would check off for a campaign, please pay them. But, it is such a grey and convoluted area. If the brand has the budget, they should definitely compensate the influencer.” – Ymorbeauty
Smaller brands often don’t have a budget for marketing, and that’s okay. But don’t be afraid to negotiate price if you’re collaborating with a larger brand that does have a budget to pay you. If you’re a business hoping to work with an influencer and trying to figure out payment, consider this:
“Brands should take into consideration the quality of work, the engagement, the influencer’s style/approach, and of course, their reach.” – Ymorbeauty
Compensation should be based on:
- Base fee for your creative work + a licensee fee if your likeness is used in other promotional creatives.
- Charging for your creative work depends on the amount of time and costs you will need to invest in the production as well as how many subscribers and the level of audience engagement you will be delivering to a brand.
- Usually, brands will also run a media campaign to promote it. Creators should consider charging a licensing fee based on the use of their likeness and creative material in the promotional campaign. To price this you should consider factors like brand category, length of usage of promotional material, and size of media buy. This fee should be relative to the overall media buy.
Photo cred – @ymorbeauty
5. Quality over quantity
The reality for most influencers is that they are competing with MEGA influencers who have been in the industry a lot longer. It’s easy to get discouraged if you are comparing your account to those that have thousands, or even millions of followers.
However, I’ve seen plenty of accounts with large followings but with absolutely zero engagement. These accounts have the audience, but they’re usually lacking on likes, comments and/or shares. As a brand, it is important to take this into consideration when you are looking to work with an influencer. Ashley Risk, director of Integrated Marketing for Kin Community Canada explains that when charging for influencer programs, engagement as well as social reach is always accounted for:
“After base line costs are taken into account to cover the resources for production we then evaluate number of subscribers, average views and engagement, and it is a sliding scale depending on the added reach the person provides.”
For influencers, the quality that you put into your work should transcend over the amount of followers that you have. You should be working constantly towards your engagement – the rise of micro-influencers is an example of how important authentic engagement is.
“Millions of followers doesn’t necessarily translate into millions of sales. Compensating 10 micro-influencers might go a longer way than signing a six-figure contract with one mega-influencer.” – Ymor Beauty
Photo cred – @linnlowes
6. Your audience is EVERYTHING
These are the people you are INFLUENCING on a daily basis. As an influencer, you’ll need to post quality content that your audience likes in order to grow it; if people enjoy your content, they’ll stick around a little longer and eventually follow you.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to only promote and talk about things you believe in. It will hinder you significantly if your audience feels like you are just capitalizing on them.” – Rachel David
Try and stick to your niche as best as you can. That’s not to say that you can’t explore with other brands but if you are thinking of collaborating with a different type of brand, try introducing it your audience slowly.
“Last week, I was hanging out with Ford Canada and the week before I was writing about Fairmont Montebello, and prior to that, I was showcasing Sephora’s Spring collection. Because I have a solid brand/relationship with my audience, they never seem to mind watching me hop in and out of niches.” – Ymorbeauty
Brands who are looking to collaborate with influencers should also take their audiences into consideration prior to booking them. A beauty influencer might be able to connect with their audience by promoting a new tech product, but you might be better off working with a tech influencer. Lauren Jacob, social media director at Focus Features, emphasizes how important an audience is for a brand and influencer collaboration to work:
“If the collaboration results in forced content that doesn’t align with what consumers expect from that person then audience trust will be lost with both the influencer and the brand.”
Influence marketing is an ever changing industry with lots of potential for both brands and influencers alike. If you’re interested in finding out more about influence marketing, on Wednesday, May 17th, check out the InfluenceTHIS event (District 28, Studios in Toronto), which connects you to Canada’s top marketers, agencies, influencer networks and creators.