12 tips for a successful influencer marketing campaign

By Gemma Smyth

Sinead Delahunty, Delalicious, Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon, The Gastro Gays and Gemma Smyth

Sinead Delahunty, Delalicious, Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon, The Gastro Gays and Gemma Smyth

Today at a Brand Forum event in Bord Bia’s Thinking House I had the pleasure of chairing  two panels on the opportunities, challenges and considerations for food and drink brands when engaging in influencer marketing campaigns.

We heard some valuable contributions from Patrick Hanlon and Russell Alford, The Gastro Gays; Sinead Delahunty, Delalicious; Caroline Hennessy, Bibliocook; Colin Harmon, 3FE and Simon Broderick, Rye River Brewing Company who discussed and debated best practise for food and drink brands. Here I summarise the takeaways from the event.

SImon Broderick, Rye River; Caroline Hennessy, Bibliocook, Colin Harmon, 3FE and Gemma Smyth

SImon Broderick, Rye River; Caroline Hennessy, Bibliocook, Colin Harmon, 3FE and Gemma Smyth

1.     Always start with the communications strategy. Know your audience and what you are trying to achieve and only at that point consider if influencer marketing should be included as a tactic.

2.     If influencer marketing is deemed appropriate, research and understand the influencers who can best connect with your audience and best represent your brand in an authentic way.

3.     Do not base your decision on reach alone. Micro influencers with niche, engaged audiences can be way more effective in communicating about your brand than macro influencers with very large followings.

4.     Decide whether paid-for (sponsored posts) or earned (product drops, press trips or events) is the best approach. Know the difference and assess which is most relevant within the budget you have available.

5.     Online audiences are incredibly savvy and expect full transparency and disclosure in brand collaborations. Familiarise yourself with ASAI guidelines and ensure all influencer engagement uses the appropriate hashtags - #ad #spon etc.

6.     Prepare a detailed brief in advance of any collaboration which clearly outlines the campaign messaging, timelines, social media handles and hashtags.

7.     Ensure terms of engagement are clear and contracts are signed in advance including reference to sign-off procedures and exclusivity clauses.

8.     Discuss measurement tactics in advance with the influencer to understand how the campaign will be assessed on conclusion.  

9.     Protect your brand against an over-reliance on Instagram – the social channel of the moment – by also hosting content on an owned website or blog. This will ensure that the content created for the campaign has longevity and is owned by your brand, rather than the social media channel.

10.  Assess how your brand can encourage your own employees to become ambassadors, and ultimately influencers for your brand. Their voice will be the most authentic.

11.  Make sure you are always monitoring and evaluating content to ensure the correct tone of voice is being used and that any collaboration is fully transparent.

12.  Remember that no one size fits all. You know your brand and you are best placed to decide the best people to represent that brand on your behalf.

Gemma Smyth