Companies have partnered with influential people for promotional purposes for a long time, including in the archery space. Archery companies commonly enlist help through spokespeople, influencers and pro staff members, and there are subtle differences in each role.
Spokespeople communicate key messaging for a brand; in some cases they’re employees. Promotional staff members, commonly known as pro staff, are industry leaders, professional archers and/or bowhunters — and individuals with influence or recognition in these fields — who operate in a professional position. With the rise of social media, the term “influencers” represents people with large followings online. Influencers exist in every possible hobby and niche market.
Many companies incorporate these often high-profile individuals into their marketing plans. When they’re credible, educated and well spoken, having such people promote a brand can create new customers and generate buzz. Elliott Kelley, the PR and social media manager at Jackson Marketing, said these types of individuals offer a unique set of benefits to companies.
“The greatest benefit to influencers is to increase your brand awareness with audiences who may not know your brand or be aware of your current product offerings,” said Kelley. “Influencers can serve to enhance or alter the perception of your brand or products as well as educate your target audience.”
Before you rush into a partnership, it’s important to consider whether it’s right for your company. Working with influencers is trendy and effective, but it needs to be done right.
“If your brand has a clearly defined and executed marketing strategy, the infrastructure to successfully manage and track influencer deliverables and a defined marketing objective to be impacted by the use of influencers, influencers can be a great investment,” Kelley said.
Companies should do their research before partnering with anyone, though. When evaluating an influencer or pro staffer, Kelley said, it’s crucial that they align with your brand’s core values.
“Influencers should not shift your brand values or be opposed to your brand image, as this only devalues your brand and can potentially alienate your core,” Kelley said.
Once you've decided to partner with an influencer, consider posting content on platforms other than social media, like podcasts. Photo Credit: ATA
If you decide to move forward with incorporating spokespeople, influencers and/or pro staff members into your marketing plan, make it official. Kelley recommends creating contracts that protect the brand and company. The contracts should be reviewed by a lawyer; this ensures that all the legalities are in place and allows your company to remove the influencer for any reason. By outlining expectations up front, everyone understands how to move forward. A contract should include detailed accounts of what kind and how much content will be created. Kelley said you could also clarify that your brand can request specific content. For example, Kelley said, this could include four posts per month tagged with your brand and the delivery of 50 high-quality photos per year and 10 videos per year.
Don’t base your selection on follower numbers alone. It’s more important that influencers are engaged and have the right following. They also need to represent your target audience. What’s even better is if they can reach an audience that you don’t reach with other marketing tactics.
Ask influencers for a summary of their social media statistics. This will include reach, impressions, engagement, comments and shares.
“I highly recommend setting benchmarks so that you can adapt your influencer strategy should a specific influencer not be performing as expected,” Kelley said.
When you invite people to represent your brand, especially if they are paid or sponsored spokespeople, influencers and pro staff, they become a visible representation of you. Their actions have the potential to have a major impact on your image, for good and bad. That’s why it’s vital to thoroughly vet everyone you work with professionally. Kelley said the three biggest red flags are when partners refuse to share performance data, don’t meet content deliverables, and post content with the potential to negatively impact the brand. That final red flag is one that has potentially devastating effects.
“Over the last several years, there are countless examples of brands having to separate from influencers due to the influencer’s personal opinions or stances,” Kelley said. “I have seen influencers post content which compromised brands and required partial activation of crisis communication plans.”
Diligently monitor influencer channels to ensure that no comments or photos are being posted that could compromise your brand. Kelley recommends creating a welcome packet that educates partners. It should include information about your brand history, products, social handles, hashtags, topics to talk about and topics to avoid.
Just because it’s trendy doesn’t mean it’s right for your company. These types of partnerships require trust.
“Influencers are not a cure-all, but when activated well they can be a strong driver for your business. Simple takeaway, make sure there’s a purpose to the program before you invest,” Kelley said.
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