Influencer Marketing: The briefing as the key to success

In the case of marketing strategists in Germany, influencers as agents of brand messages are in high demand. Their most important asset is their credibility. In order to preserve them, comprehensive instructions are needed that cover three categories.

6th Aug 2019
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The briefing of influencers is a hike on a tightrope. On the one hand, it requires detailed specifications that ensure that marketers have the necessary degree of controllability - after all, every influencer cooperation pursues clearly defined goals. On the other hand, too detailed briefings can quickly prove counterproductive because they often narrow the space for ideas and creative solutions. Mastering this balancing act is particularly important when working with influencers. Because both the top stars of the A-League, as well as the numerous mid-, micro- and nano-influencers need room to convey advertising messages authentically. After all, people follow the influencer, not his advertising message.


The task is to define the cooperation exactly, without setting the creativity of the cooperation partner too narrow limits. For example, if a long-haul specialist decided to communicate its offer with travel-loving Instagram, first the same briefing rules are to be considered, as with the commissioning of communications agencies. First, the framework conditions must be staked. Marketing defines the nature and goals of collaboration. Is it about a short, one-off or possibly a long-term cooperation? Which (quantified) services does the work of the influencer include? In this context, the period and the (monthly) remuneration must be clearly defined accordingly.


Then it goes into the fine work. A comprehensive influencer briefing can be broken down into three performance categories: Product Specific, Platform Specific, and Formal Briefing.


1. Product-specific briefing

In this aspect, the client defines the specifications for the presentation of his brand / product. This includes:


  • Textual / linguistic: Which messages does the influencer include in his article? Does he indicate certain product features and if so, which ones? Are certain wordings to be used? Does he point to USPs and if so, which ones? Is information required where the product is or will be available at what time?


  • Visually: from which perspective does the influencer show the product? Should the brand logo be seen? Is the product in the original packaging or is it unpacked? Depending on what type of product it is: untouched or in use (such as cosmetics), frozen or thawed (frozen food), raw or prepared (food) - and how do you actually visualize a digital product, such as banking App?


In addition: Influencer communication is no longer pure product placement. Depending on the respective concept, the placement of brands / products is integrated into creation and (long-term) storytelling, which enrich the playing field with content diversity and narrative depth. This affects the complexity of the briefing. The dramaturgy of a story may well be planned - but it becomes more authentic, the more intensively it is influenced by the narrator himself.


Either way, the trick is to bring in his ideas without interfering with the editorial format, the visual concept and the individual tonality of the influencer. After all, it is precisely these specifics that have made the multiplier successful and attractive for marketing.


2. Platform-specific briefing


The platform-specific briefing defines the technical guidelines for an influencer contribution, because the various social media platforms - from Instagram to TikTok to YouTube - differ greatly in terms of their technical logic and their functionalities. Example Instagram:


  • Is it about a post in the feed or an Insta story?
  • Should certain Instagram channels be marked?
  • Which hashtags should be used?
  • Should a landing page be linked via Swipe Up?
  • Can the album function be used? If yes how?


In addition, if the marketing person works without technical support for tools / platforms with API connectivity, instructions for submitting platform- or format-specific insights (for example, "How many impressions did an Instagram story item generate?") Are required to later use the Measure the success of the campaign.


In addition, depending on the strategy and goal, it may be useful to supplement an organic influencer post with social advertising in order to increase the reach and to specify the targeting. To make this possible, the influencer (also platform-dependent) must make certain release settings or use special functionalities. These steps also need to be neatly worded, since influencers are social media content professionals, but they do not usually have specialist skills in social advertising. As a result - and for the most efficient use of the budget - the actual ad serving ideally implements a person / agency with relevant expertise.


3. Formal briefing


Most influencers are familiar with the general rules and no-gos in advertising cooperations. Nevertheless, it is advisable to minimize the potential for misunderstandings and ambiguities in advance.


The formalities relate firstly to the operational cooperation procedure. These include the instructions for the voting and approval process for the publications and basic requirements, such as photo quality or voice output. On the other hand, it is about legal issues, especially advertising labeling and competitive exclusion.


As far as advertising labeling is concerned, there are still some uncertainties that may only be resolved in the course of time through individual court decisions. Guidelines of the state media authorities and the Wettbewerbszentrale serve as orientation, some platforms themselves provide the marking. In principle, the client should clarify the labeling requirements in the briefing, because correct labeling serves the credibility and thus all cooperation partners.


To ensure brand safety, it needs to be clarified which brands the influencer also works with. A competitive exclusion ensures that your own brand does not appear in inappropriate environments, is associated with critical products. This exclusion also has a temporal component. For example, multiple collaborations with mattress manufacturers in a short period of time are untrustworthy, because on average, the consumer only buys a mattress every ten years. In the case of longer-term cooperation, it may make sense to exclude competitors for up to one year after the end of the cooperation.


Conclusion: The briefing is an integral part of any cooperation with influencers. It should respect and respect the editorial freedom of the respective influencer and at the same time guarantee that the brand is presented intelligently and above all credibly. The devil is often in the details.

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