American Marketer


How brands can work with influencers

April 19, 2016

Vishal Gurbuxani is cofounder of Captiv8 Vishal Gurbuxani is cofounder of Captiv8


By Vishal Gurbuxani

Millennials are reshaping the way that entertainment is created and consumed. Brands cannot keep doing what has worked in the past. Millennials do not even see banner ads anymore, let alone click.

The power of influencer marketing is in the authenticity it creates, especially that one-to-one experience. How do you hit your campaign metrics while letting the talent do what they do best?

It is important to look at influencers as partners to understand what will work. When you do that, you will see results.

Here are my dos and don’ts to follow when working with influencers:

Do …
1. Let them shine. Let influencers come up with creative concepts. They know their audience best and the type of content that works or does not work.

Make the process collaborative.

Slapping a product placement will not work and if you think it does, you are missing the beauty in leveraging creators.

You want the audience to not even realize that they are being marketed to.

2. Consider them brand advocates. Influencers will not take on campaigns just for the paycheck. Their livelihood is their content and if quality drops, they lose.

You can almost guarantee they are already a fan of your brand or at least consider what you are doing as cool. Look at them as a customer and make the experience enjoyable so they keep coming back.

3. Understand the difference in platforms. Having them just tweet out the 10-second Vine video they do for you does not always work.

Most influencers have separate strategies for each platform.

Spend the time during a kick-off call to understand how they see each platform and be willing to create different concepts for each.

4. Communicate your brand safety needs. While it is important to support the influencer’s creative concepts, you also need to clearly communicate your brand identity and what your dos and don’ts are.

Get that all out on the table from the get-go.

5. Optimize. Use a data partner to understand what works best for each influencer’s fan base like when to post (day/time), what hashtags to use and which filters perform.

It is also important to understand, in real-time, what is working.

The average half-life of a post is between one to two hours, giving you a solid indication of performance in near real-time.

6. Reach out as early as possible. Not only do you want to make sure talent is available, but the more time you give them for creative concepting, the better the deliverable will be.

Don’t …
1. Assume all are created equally. Do not treat all influencers the same.

It is not efficient to discuss what worked for your last influencer marketing campaign because what has worked for one influencer might not for another.

Treat each influencer as authentically as the campaign should be.

2. Pull the trigger too early. It can be tempting to automatically go to an influencer who is popular and has a lot of followers. Resist this temptation.

Agree on your target audience and campaign goals first, and then see which influencer best aligns to that.

It can be exhausting, yet fun, to spend hours watching content from a potential influencer partner to see what they are all about.

Let a partner do the due diligence for you since it is more effective and efficient.

Once you have identified the perfect influencer, only move forward if you can hold up your end of the deal.

To maintain channel quality, influencers are selective in the amount of sponsorships they do every month. If they have agreed to move forward and it falls through, you risk burning bridges.

3. Waste good content. Everyone should have the chance to see awesome content.

Put paid media dollars towards an audience extension program to reach more people.

4. Forget to measure success. Work with a partner that provides detailed reporting both during and after the campaign, so you can optimize and measure success.

Share these results with influencers. This data gives them more insight into their audience and will encourage them to partner with you again if performance was positive.

5. Set it and forget it. Once you have found the perfect influencer to partner with, do not think that your job is over and it is now on them.

There are a lot of steps from creative concepting to go-live. Make sure you are engaged from start to finish so that there are no surprises.

Vishal Gurbuxani is cofounder of Captiv8, San Mateo, CA. Reach him at