I’ve worked in social media and run my own blog for a few years, it was through my modelling with Wink that really moved me into being an influencer though.

Being an influencer is important and valuable to me for a few reasons. I’m able to support and help brands and causes I believe in, extend their reach and succeed, try new products and services, stay up to date and ahead of trends, meet & great people and grow my network and practice my creative and writing skills. Going to events might be work at times, but they’re also a lot of fun!

As the Head of Social Media for a Content and Social agency, working on both sides of the influencer and talent fence also gives me a unique perspective and builds relationships that help me with both careers.

 

CHALLENGES

There are two main challenges I face as an influencer:

One is choosing the right brands and campaigns to work with – balancing my own ethics with wanting to grow my portfolio, while maintaining social accounts and a blog that remains natural and not overly commercialised.

The second is in measurement and amplification. Often micro-influencer work relies on organic reach only, is on Instagram only and the work is more tactical and less strategic. But we know that in social media organic reach is all but dead, micro-influencers can have more channels than just IG and there is more that can be achieved by developing proper paid strategic approaches in partnership – like with influencers with larger followings. From this perspective, micro-influencer work can be extremely limiting.

EXPECTATIONS

One of the biggest expectations comes down to payment. With smaller followings often payment is commonly product, small or expected pro bono. Pro bono can be relevant for charity and NFP engagements, and product appropriate for small business just starting out, beyond that reasonable payment is to be expected.

For both sides briefing is the key to creating the best outcome, so for agencies, when it comes to co-operation and creating great outcomes, briefing and openness is the key. Be clear, concise and include as much detail as possible when briefing – and expect and be prepared for questions.

 

How do you feel about strict requirements concerning your content given to you by an enterprise?

Every brand and campaign has certain messages they need to amplify, that’s why influencers are engaged. There are aIso regulatory and business requirements and objectives to be met because you need to be able to measure effectiveness or ROI somehow, and to act compliantly. I think brands can be prescriptive with things that tie directly to these elements – like key messages and words, hashtags, Call To Action, links and link tagging, regulatory and business requirements etc but the actual content, voice and at least some visuals must be the that of the influencers.

The reason brands work with influencers is to reach their audiences through their trusted voice, when you try to control or change that, the audience will know – and that’s likely to impact its effectiveness.  

What key qualities will make you say “yes” to working with a brand/business?

The brands and campaigns I work with need to align with my own values and interests in some way. It would be disingenuous of me to work with a brand, and promote something that doesn’t. It’s through this lens that I look at everything on its own merits.

 

What key qualities will make you say “no” to working with a brand/business?

The things that make me say no are similar to what makes me say yes. If the brand, product or campaign conflicts with or doesn’t align to my own values and interests, or other ongoing partnerships I have, I can’t in good faith say yes. I also don’t promote products or services without sampling them.

My pet hate is brands who propose a promo code and rewarding you with product after X many sales. Another is medical, pharma and health and wellness products who are unwilling to provide evidence to support their product – I find this most common with teeth whitening and vitamin brands. If I’m going to put my voice behind a brand, I want to know it works, is safe and is credible.

The value placed on the work is also important of course. I’ve worked with a number of brands pro-bono, either because I believe in the cause or there is a broader benefit for me. But undervaluing, underquoting work, expecting pro bono or product as payment is a no deal for me.

 

Do’s and don’t’s brands should follow in working with micro influencers

The do’s and don’t’s aren’t too much different from working with mid and top tier influencers, but there are some differences.

You should always select influencers who are the right fit for your brand and product, and who have the right audience. That’s not always the one with the largest following. If you’re not sure, ask for some insights from their blog or social accounts. If you find influencers you’re particularly impressed with, consider building a relationship and doing other work with them – we’re good for more than just one engagement.

Have a way to measure the effectiveness of the influencer activity. When most people think of influencers they think of Instagram, but there’s value in leveraging their other channels to maximise their value – so think more broadly in your strategy. Reach is good but only if it’s to the right people, action – whether it’s as simple as an increase to your following to the more valuable sign up or purchase – is a far better outcome.

The biggest no I can think of is don’t prescribe content and copy with no flexibility and just because the audiences are smaller, doesn’t mean the work should be expected for free. It takes as much effort to create a post or blog whether you have 5K or 50K followers.

 

REWARDS

There’s been a few great moments from working with different brands. For me most of it comes from the action I see and hear about that is a direct result of the work I’ve done.

Having followers become aware of and donate to the Sydney Cats and Dogs Home and participate in Cupid’s Undie Run, get value and learn from my thoughts after attending events like ADMA’s Data Day or speaking at events The Office of the eSafety Commissioner’s “Online Safety on The Edge” conference and the relaunch of Listen Up Music Australia. Going to bar and venue launches also makes me sound cooler than I actually am when I recommend great places to go. The information and help people have gotten from my ongoing work as an Ambassador for R U OK Day is perhaps the most rewarding though.

All these things are great for my own experience and profile, but far more rewarding is seeing how it impacts and influences people in meaningful ways.

 

Misconceptions about working with influencers

The biggest misconception is that is micro-influencers are not as effective or valuable as larger influencers because they have less reach. I also read recently that “credible influencers follow significantly less accounts than follow them” but this contradicts the core of social media, community and interaction.

Audiences may be smaller and follow counts more equal but this can make micro influencers more personal, connected and engaged. This means their influence can be powerful, and seen as more sincere, than influencers with bigger audiences.

 

Do you have any predictions for the future of the micro influencer?

At Cannes recently Aline Santos, Global Marketing EVP for Unilever said that “Marketers have been obsessed with reaching consumers and not obsessed enough with representing them”. There are so many ways to improve representation in marketing and media which, when done well, demonstrates relatability and shows consumers that what is being marketed is for them. Representation is good for the reputation and the bottom line of the client. This is something I spoke about in a piece on changing the ratio for B&T after their recent conference. http://www.bandt.com.au/opinion/changing-ratio-shouldnt-something-think

Micro-influencers are a powerful way to increase representation, and reach different groups in simple and relatively inexpensive ways. They allow brands to tap into niche communities with an authentic, trusted, personal voice. As the Facebook and Instagram algorithms move to strengthen connections and relationships between people, the growing use of Facebook and Instagram Live and the recent launch of IGTV, micro influencers are going to play a stronger role, using their voice to connect brands with people and communities in real, and new, ways.

https://craigontoast.com/2018/06/26/igtv-perfect-timing-for-something-fresh-but-what-do-we-do-with-it/

Why was it important for you to join a platform like The Right Fit?

Before theright.fit it was harder and more expensive for brands to find and connect with influencers, creators and talent. It meant paying agency fees to access talent and/or spending hours researching and negotiating with individuals. This made it difficult to find and work with micro influencers, and for micro influencers to find work. Other platforms existed, but a lot of the work was short, tactical and very commercialised and direct response marketing.

Theright.fit makes it much easier for both sides to connect quickly and easily, and the work is so varied that we’re able to pick the right campaigns and work regularly without feeling or looking like our social accounts are for hire.

https://theright.fit/talent/craig-m

Instagram: @craigontoast