Dr Mayoni Gooneratne provides her top tips to help practitioners work effectively with bloggers and social media influencers to grow your brand and business
Bloggers, or social media influencers, as they are now more commonly known, have become an established part of marketing strategies; and you can see why. According to 2018 statistics, 83% of the adult UK population is now active on social media, with the top networks, in order of usage, being Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.1 Data also shows that 23% of UK consumers have clicked through to buy a product after seeing it featured by an influencer.2
A social media influencer is someone with a reputation for expertise and knowledge in an area because they post regularly about it. They have the power to influence their followers’ opinions, and this can also extend to their purchase decisions. This is where influencers really come into their own; their followers trust and respect their opinions and are usually very engaged with their content. The average influencer engagement rate (the percentage of their followers that responds to their content, for example by clicking on a link or liking a post) is 5.7%, compared with just 2-3% for brands on Instagram.3
As such, working with influencers is now central to many branding campaigns across all major categories. The beauty category has become especially noteworthy. Although return on investment is hard to measure, a recent report found that for every £1 spent on influencers within the beauty industry in 2017, brands received an average return of £8.81.4 According to business magazine Marketing Week, nearly all beauty marketers say their budget for influencer marketing is likely to increase over the next 12 months and nearly two thirds (65%) are planning to increase spend in this area by at least 10%.3
If this is all sounding too good to be true, you’re right; it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Influencer fraud hit the headlines last year, with some high-profile cases of fake followers (influencers buying followers or having a large number of fake followers) and influencers not correctly flagging up paid promotions.5 The fall-out from this can be damaging – and expensive – for the brands involved. A recent report has revealed that 11% of engagement with influencer-sponsored Instagram posts in 2017 was generated from fraudulent accounts.6 As an aesthetic clinic, this kind of thing could mean that you are not receiving the return on investment that you planned and can even hurt your brand if real accounts start associating you with fake influencers and no longer trust you because of it.
At the start of 2019, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) contacted more than 200 social media influencers about failing to state clearly in their posts if they were paid or received products, loans or gifts of the products they endorse.7 Following on from that, The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) secured formal commitments from16 celebrities to be more transparent when posting online.8
So, if you’re thinking about working with influencers, there are pitfalls to avoid and steps you can take to make sure that your relationship is successful and productive.
The first question to ask yourself is if influencers are appropriate for your target market, so you must firstly do research to determine how your patients use media. I have found that the Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report from Ofcom is very useful to understand our patients’ likely media habits.9 For example, Instagram has a younger user profile than Facebook and recent statistics show that only 10% of UK women aged between 55 and 64 years are using Instagram.10,11 So, there is little use in running a campaign on Instagram if very few of your target audience is using the app.
You need to find an influencer that your target audience will trust and respond to, for example, someone who has demonstrated knowledge and expertise within beauty and skincare. Be active on social media, follow local beauty and skin bloggers and look at the interaction between the influencer and their followers. You may need to use your gut instinct to determine whether you think your target market would ‘fit in’ with this influencer. When I first started to work with influencers, I was lucky to know someone personally that really fitted the bill for The Clinic by Dr. Mayoni and her audience closely mirrored my core target market. Just as importantly, her outlook and attitude reflected my clinic’s brand values too; that looking good is just as much about feeling good and mental wellbeing. That was very fortunate – but there are other ways to find the right person for your needs. Good places to start are by identifying the hashtags and topics that are key to your business and seeing who is already active in this area. Ensure the individual you are researching
is genuine; Influencer Marketing Hub has a useful free tool to analyse Instagram accounts for fake followers and their number of likes.12 Once you have identified someone you want to work with, contact them through the relevant social media platform or by email – many will include an address in the contact section of their profile. It’s also worth checking their website to see if they have any advice on how best to get in touch. From here, keep your tone professional and make sure you include details about yourself and your business so that they know that you are serious and can get a better idea of your offering. When selecting who to approach, you will need to keep your budget in mind too. As a general rule of thumb, the more followers a person has, the more you will pay. The price you will pay will vary enormously according to the influencer in question and the type of project you have in mind. For example, a one-off post about your brand will involve less commitment than a before and after treatment blog. Your deal may also include other elements; for example, offering free or discounted treatments that you want the influencer to write about, inviting them to your events, giving them first access to new treatments and products, and so on. Again, it is important that the influencer makes it clear if they have received free or discounted treatments. All these elements will be part of your negotiation, and the sky is the limit. In terms of costs, statistics in the US put Instagram posts at around $1,000 per 100,000 followers13 but Kylie Jenner reportedly makes around $1m per paid post!14 Finding your perfect partner can be a time-consuming process, so you may want to consider using an agency to help. Specialist influencer agencies and many PR companies can help with this process, from finding your influencer to negotiating the terms of your relationship and planning the creative content. You can find a list of UK-based influencer marketing agencies at Influencer Marketing Hub.15 Industry publication PR Week also has a really useful section on Influencer Marketing and is well worth a look for tips and contacts.16
I think the best influencer campaigns work because of the synergy between them and the brand. You should already know a fair bit about them, but now is the time for your influencer to get to know you well. Nothing beats face-to-face meetings if possible, so you can really get your passion for your craft and your brand across. The other thing you should do is draw up a really detailed brief in writing so that you both fully understand what is expected.
Be clear about what you are prepared to do – and what you are not prepared to do. For example, appearing in video content or providing free treatments to the influencer. Think now, too, about what you expect in return and get this agreed and in the brief before you go any further. For example, you might ask to see insight data on individual posts, such as the reach, engagement and impressions they achieved.17 This is a very useful way to gauge how well your campaign is working. You should work out in advance how many posts you would like to see, how often they will appear and how long this campaign will last, for example. If you’ve found the right person you will hopefully be building a long-term relationship, so it is worth spending time now building solid foundations. As a rule of thumb, all your work with an influencer should be about building brand awareness and understanding rather than driving sales for individual products. Followers look to these accounts for advice and knowledge, not the hard sell. Your influencer is unlikely to want to be your salesperson in any case: this is not their job.
Once these things are in place, you will feel confident about my next piece of advice: allow your influencer creative freedom with the brief. According to research, nearly 40% of influencers feel that restrictive content guidelines are one of the biggest mistakes brands make when working with them.18
It stops them from integrating the posts successfully with their own content and presenting them in their own style. This inauthenticity will jar with their followers and isn’t good for the influencer or the brand in question. It’s important that your influencer’s personality can come across in any work you do together. They know their medium inside and out, and more importantly, their audience, so trust their expertise.
Hopefully, if you’ve found the right person, you won’t have a problem in them being creative with the brief and putting their own unique spin on the content. If you think that their current content won’t work well for your brand, then it may be time to look again. Be sure not to burn any bridges; sometimes a relationship will not work out, but try to part on good terms and leave the door open for future collaboration.
Another top tip is to make the most of all the content that is created by repurposing it on all of the platforms that make sense for your target audience. Ask influencers if they are active across more than one platform, and if so check that they will share your content across each of them. Agreeing the preferred platforms for your campaign should be part of your brief. Keeping on top of new techniques is also an important part of the influencer/brand-owner relationship. For example, Instagram Stories are currently really popular, but it wouldn’t be surprising if something new comes along soon to shift our attention. When your campaign is underway, it is important to keep in close contact and review regularly with your blogger/influencer. They will be able to tell you what resonated with their audience, and what missed the mark. Allow space and time for your campaign to evolve as you both learn more. Don’t be afraid to try something new; creativity can really help to cut through the noise. Getting people to engage with the content by sharing their own thoughts and pictures is also really impactful; for example, you could pose a question to encourage engagement.
If your target market is active on social media, influencer marketing is well worth spending time and devoting marketing budget to. Concentrate your efforts on finding the right influencer for you and your brand and put time into developing that relationship. Do your homework to make sure they are what they claim to be, and now more than ever make sure that all paid posts associated with your brand are clearly labelled as such. Have a professional relationship from the very beginning and allow influencers the freedom to work creatively. They are the experts in their medium and are working to protect their brand too, so mutual trust is essential. Working together in partnership can reap huge rewards for brands, helping to build awareness and understanding.
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