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5 Lessons to Help You Select the Best Influencers

At WHOSAY, we recently hosted Jana Kramer for coffee and conversation in Bentonville, Arkansas for a discussion about the relationship with her fans, life as a busy mom, and what she looks for when working with brands.

Jana Kramer is an American actress and country music singer. She is known for her role as Alex Dupre on the television series One Tree Hill. Kramer began a country music career in 2012 with the single “Why Ya Wanna” from her self-titled debut album for Elektra Records. In 2016, she competed on Season 23 of Dancing with the Stars where she reached the finals of the show and finished in 4th place with her professional partner Gleb Savchenko.

Our experience at WHOSAY and her personal insights serve as a foundation to guide you as you work to match the right influencers for your brand initiatives and work with them to tell your story.

1. Selecting Talent Is Both Art and Science

Ignore one or the other at your own risk. This process takes into account both quantitative and qualitative metrics such as:

  • Quantitative: Brand Affinity, Fan Reach, Engagement, Budget
  • Qualitative: Manageability, Professionalism, Creativity, Brand Safety

Brands don’t want to find themselves in a position where an algorithm has surfaced person X, Y, or Z as the ideal match only to find out they are difficult to work with, they don’t show up on time and are not willing to communicate an important message.

Furthermore, make sure talent is not selected simply based on someone being a fan. There has to be some logic and data to support talent decisions.

For example, we recently worked with Jana on a program launching the Burt’s Bees beauty line.

So why her?

In short, there is a high affinity between the people Burt’s Bees is looking to reach and her audience. She also has a high level of responsiveness, meaning that her followers are engaging with the content she posts. As if that wasn’t enough, that little fire symbol on the WHOSAY Match report means she is currently experiencing above average fan growth.

Additionally, we have worked with her before and know that she delivers AND is a joy to work with. Potentially, more important than all of that, is the simple fact that she genuinely likes Burt’s Bees. Working on this was authentic to her.

That said, we had multiple talent recommendations that fit the bill. By following a diligent talent vetting process you are able to identify various people that would be a great fit for your program.

2. Look for Authentic Integrations in the Life of an Influencer:

Take the time to learn about the influencers you are considering partnering with.

Simply Measured Identify Influencers
Simply Measured Listening helps you quickly identify and learn more about the influencers driving the most conversation in your topic area, on a channel-by-channel basis.

If the brand or service being promoted is perceived to be a natural integration in their life, thus authentic to them, the community will welcome it and take action. This kind of partnership allows fans an opportunity to share in the life and experience of their favorite celebrities.

On the other hand, if something feels forced, out of place and not true to the talent, the community will call that out. This hurts the brand and the talent involved, thus both parties need to be thoughtful about the working relationships they sign up for.

It’s worth noting that no matter how perfect a partnership is, you will always have some haters. Welcome to the internet, trolls are a thing. All that said, as long as the partnership is authentic and true to the talent that will help them stand by their decision. “It worked for me” is a genuine and acceptable response as long as it’s true.

3. Embrace Multi-Dimensional Talent 

Jana is a multi-dimensional woman. She’s a mother, an actress, a country music singer and even had a recent stint as a dancer. She is not a single one of those alone, she is the collection of them all over the years. Her community is a mix of people from all of those parts of her life. Many started with her on One Tree Hill, others came because of country music and now mothers are gravitating towards her as she shares her life as a mom.

By the way, she also has a dog named Waffles. Greatest name ever!

I don’t consider myself just a country artist, just an actress, just a mom, I’m all those things — and I want to do more things! I want a clothing line, I want this and that — I want to grow. — Jana Kramer

So what?

Jana has overlapping spheres of influence. She is not limited to only work on mom-like partnerships now that she is a mother. She is still a country music singer, an actress, a daughter, etc…and she embraces all of those parts of her life.

For example, here are a few potential brand partnerships that naturally came out of our conversation as we learned about her life:

  • Jolie, her daughter, and Jana both eat Chobani yogurt.
  • Jana eats Jif peanut butter and honey almost every single day.
  • Jana buys Pampers diapers for Jolie because she likes the softer bottoms.
  • Jana likes the Honest hand sanitizers.

We learned this as she was tellings us about the fact that her fans reach out to her and ask what she eats, what her workouts are, what products she uses, etc. Fans want to learn about her life and she kindly responds.

What’s most interesting to me is that she also asks her fans for advice, especially now as a new mom. It’s a two-way street and one that she really enjoys.

Once you have a general understanding of the life and interest of these influencers, you are able to provide them with an opportunity to share an authentic message and story with their fans about your brand.

4. Brand Exclusivity Can Hurt Authenticity

Let’s chat brand exclusivity. Brands want it as long as possible, influencers want it as short as possible. I totally get it, but there should be a better framework for this.

Details such as deal size, length of the program, etc…all affect this but I’d like us to consider at least three additional questions when discussing terms of exclusivity:

  • How often is this purchased?
  • Is there a high or low switching cost?
  • Does having these terms hurt the authenticity of the content?

Back to Jana for a second, notice how we learned that she likes Pampers diapers and Honest hand sanitizers. That’s authentic to her and her fans know it. She could easily tell a story of both products in a way that connects with shoppers.

So what you may ask…well, Pampers is owned by Procter & Gamble and the Honest hand sanitizers are from The Honest Company. They are competitive firms in the consumer packaged goods industry.

Both products are purchased on a relatively frequent basis, especially diapers. These are not categories where I would push too much on exclusivity. I’m not saying not to at all, I’m just saying don’t be too restrictive.

5. Leverage Influencer Knowledge

When you are working with influencers, give them an opportunity to be a part of the process.

They ultimately know their audience best and can provide recommendations on the type of content and messaging. They will know what will resonate with their community and it’s worth listening and taking that into account. Don’t discount their experience and professional creativity. When you work together, magic can happen.

That said, you should absolutely play a part in the process, don’t just hand over the reigns. You know your brand and products better than anyone, talk to them and share your insights. What makes it unique or different? Why should their fans care? Give influencers (and their audience) a reason to believe.

Performance is impacted by how effectively talent connects with your brand’s audience, not just their own fanbase.

BONUS: Make sure the talent you work with has a life beyond #AD.

Success starts by defining your objectives and target audience, talent comes in later. It’s a formula with various components, all important to delivering the desired outcome. All that said, the right talent + premium creative + smart paid distribution = superior results.

 

If you liked this article, please share it! And reach out to me to discuss influencer best practices and creating shopper-centric ad campaigns. I’d love to hear what you are working on, and share lessons learned.

Joel Ponce

Joel Ponce

Joel Ponce is an Account Director at WHOSAY, a Viacom company. He works with brands and agencies to create better ads and drive growth through influence marketing. His expertise lies at the intersection of advertising, technology and entertainment.

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