The world in which we know it has changed; people don't want to engage with brands, they want to engage with people. They want brands to listen to them and they want to create personalised connections that go beyond a one-size-fits-all broadcast message.

Marketers have grown to understand influencer marketing very well and can be rightfully finicky when having to select influencers to work on a brand campaign. It's pivotal for influencers to know this in order to package themselves in a way that is fitting to this criterion — or they could be wondering why they're simply not getting noticed.

In this day and age, it takes more than just showcasing impressively large numbers of followers as a selling point. Influencers now find themselves in a space where they need to put in some serious thought into what it is that they're influencing and truly understanding their niche, packaging of tasteful content and what the stats behind every post and campaign actually mean.

The more influencer marketing grows, the higher the expectations are for influencers as content creators. Previously, influencers could get away with just posting, trending a topic and moving on the next campaign. 

But nowadays, a trending topic needs to come with greater analytics in order to track success on a campaign, and that's an area that influencers need to examine with a fine-tooth comb.

Here are eight things that influencers need to do in order to package themselves better for future marketing campaigns:

1. Appeal to audiences and audience relationships

Content lies at the center of what social media influencers do, so it goes without saying that they need to critically consider the content they put out and what it looks like.

Marketers also look at the relationship influencers have with their community and how they interact with each other. Do your followers look to you for information that affects their purchase decisions?

2. Compare the number of followers to impact, engagement, reach and real followers

Of course, the number of followers you have still matters; but there's an added layer of how they engage with your content. You also need to ask whether:
  • your posts have reach, and
  • what percentage of your following is real or not.
It happens that social media influencers have a high following but produce very little impact, engagement and reach. Oh, so awkward.

3. Find your tribe and stick to it

There are various communities that influencers advocate for, and often those communities form part of a brand's target market. In South Africa, we've got influencers with strong voices in various industries, and many brands find their passion points in these and other spaces.

They often rely on influencer partnerships to create conversations that infiltrate these cultures and their subcultures. 

Although influencers can find themselves thriving in these spaces, it isn't without understanding their audience, what makes them tick and the extent in which they connect with each other's content that makes them stand out amongst the pack.

4. Look at your budget

Marketers will always want to know if the social media influencer makes sense for their budget. Usually, this is where the negotiations come in, and where most marketers will want to get the most out of their buck for the brief at hand.

This is also where influencers and their managers will want to consider:
  • the scope of work and length
  • a potential new relationship, and
  • the budget available (among other factors) in meeting the required brand objectives.
Influencers need to have competitive, industry-related rates as this will always make negotiations easier.

5. Present previous work with competitors

Most marketers will always check your social media pages to see your previous work and particularly look at whether you've worked with any of their competitors and to what extent. This is an important element to think about that cannot be stressed enough.

6. Have an authentic relationship with the brand 

Do you actually use the brand's products? Having a relationship with a brand that you're looking to work with is always a bonus. There's nothing like an influencer that doesn't drink beer but working on a beer campaign, although marketers can overlook this sometimes.

7. Influencer brand fit and personality

The influencer and his / her lifestyle needs to fit the brand image. An influencer brand fit analysis will always help marketers find influencers who are the best fit for their brand and influencers with the right personality and attitude to represent the brand externally.

Accessibility can sometimes be a hindrance in marketing messages reaching the desired target audiences authentically.

8. Be aware of your expectations versus brand expectations

Your expectations will always matter to marketers; sometimes these expectations can be the reason why you don't get the brief. We should always remember that expectations will always differ from influencer to influencer.

Some influencers have worked with many brands previously so they may have their own processes on how they conduct business. Essentially, influencers need to have an understanding of the industry, how it works and where they come in so that they can co-exist in an ever-growing eco-system.

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