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Insights from VidCon 2017: Eight takeaways to impact your influencer marketing strategy

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VidCon 2017 took place at in Anaheim, California, between the 21 - 24th June.

Here at Think Jam we have been engaging influencers on our movie campaigns for a number of years. I worked with my first influencer on a campaign five years ago and like all things digital, it's an ever-moving feast.

In order to keep our agency ahead of the curve, last week I headed to VidCon in Anaheim. The passion and creativity from the creators and marketers there was tangible and the enthusiasm from the fans was as powerful as anticipated. Fans clamoured and queued to get a glimpse of their favourite creator(s). Their excitement was palpable.

The industry panels I attended were wonderfully insightful and both validated the Think Jam approach and brought to the table new ways of working and measuring success. Here, I’ve summarised my insights on working with influencers, into eight takeaways.

Don't just think big

Larger content creators were not discredited and it’s not an either-or, but it was universally discussed that the micro-influencer was better for engagement and that the leading driver for creator approaches should be brand affinity and content quality over reach.

Where to start

The first place to start looking for influencers is within your existing audience. Everyone has some level of influence, so start there and work your way up and out. Look also at who is driving the conversations that you would like to be a part of.

Authenticity is key

Creators prefer brands/products they have a genuine interest in, as these will be better received by their audience. When creators are given creative freedom (and where possible the chance to build long-term relationships), the brand can be introduced to that audience in a natural and authentic way. Creators need to ensure they stay true to their niche and are transparent about their partnerships. If they are selecting the right brands to work with, they will be and should be, proud of them.

Use the creator's voice

Give the creator scope to execute the project in a way they can be passionate about and that will feed into the content. Communicate with creators and have a two-way dialogue. Creators are best placed to tick a marketer's box in a way that is authentic to their audience, creating a win-win. Let them know all you can about your property, the values to align with, the messages that need to be communicated and allow those to be communicated in an authentic way by the creator. Use treatments and/or storyboards to get a feel and build a collaborative relationship. Authenticity and creator voice is central to success.

Brand affinity

Ensure you and your creators have the same values, the right audience, aligned passions and strengths. Set key markers regarding what is appropriate and not appropriate for your property and research for creators / influencers that align. Check content across all channels, other brands they are working with, events they are attending. Do a Google 'background check’ and ask what else they have coming up.

It's OK to be nervous

Both brands and creators discussed nervousness at entering deals because it's still so new to a lot of people on both sides. It’s an ever-evolving learning process that will only start to feel more comfortable as you do it. Talk openly and collaboratively to the creators/brands you are working with and employ learnings from each experience. Communication is key.

It can be more than a one-off

Move away from having influencers/content creators being a silo of activity running parallel to the marketing campaign and involve influencers as early as possible in your campaigns. Look at ways you can integrate influencers in with existing social conversations, on-going plans and existing partnerships; empower the creator with inspiration for their content. Look beyond stats and look for brand soulmates you can work with long term and help grow. In an on-going partnership growing their audience grows your audience too.

Lay it all out

Contracts are there to protect both sides. Agree on everything up front, ensuring that there are clear deliverables, logistics (e.g. edit rounds), content rights and timings outlined. Stick to the terms you have agreed.

Sami Westwood is publicity and partnerships director at Think Jam

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