Influencer Marketing Isn’t What it Used to Be: 5 Tips For Creating Meaningful Partnerships & Realising ROI

Over time audiences have grown tired of hyper-polished content style costantly posted by social media influencers and developed an acute spirit of ‘selection’ on what lands on their digital spaces. This has affected the way hotels and resorts are now working with this legion of digital media experts and content creator. 

To get an actual take on today’s influencer marketing, we asked Misha Levin, South African influencer and digital marketing strategist, to share her 5 best tips to create meaningful partnerships. 

1. Budget for it!

With traditional media audiences shrinking and digital media formats packing a larger punch year on year, it’s high time businesses and brands started allocating realistic budgets towards this powerful and impactful discipline. Now that your influencer marketing budget has been approved, create an always-on strategy for the year that allows you to partner with the right influencers at opportune times. Don’t ask influencers to work for free.

2. Action > Reach

Micro-influencers (between 2000 – 50 000 followers) often have very engaged, invested audiences. Metrics like reach don’t mean a whole lot if the budget spent yields no return for your brand or business. If we’re talking Instagram, for example, the metrics that matter more and more include comments, swipe-ups, saves and most importantly, sales. With Instagram trialling the removal of the ‘like’ tally that appears beneath photographs, it’s important that real value is placed on audience resonance and engagement. Make sure you’re providing the influencers you collaborate with unique UTM links in order to be able to track the source of the lead or sale. Use this data to determine the influencer mix that works best and pivot accordingly. Take a risk and try new partnerships; if the results don’t stack up at least you’ve got the data and analytics to guide future campaigns. 

3. Collaboration is king

It’s important that influencers are considered brand partners and that the intention is for the relationships formed to be long-term in nature. True advocacy is built over time, as is trust from an audience perspective. If you want to capitalise on real influencer advocacy, approach them with an appeal to ideate and to workshop some ideas together. Better yet, invite them to help design/create something unique to your brand that they have a small share of ownership in. There’s no greater motivation to rally audience support and action than when there’s commission at stake. The creation process also presents a massive opportunity for creating content along the way and building hype in the lead-up to the exciting collab reveal. Remember, influencers know their audiences best and will be able to guide you in the content strategies that resonate and yield results. Ask for this guidance and trust the partnership. 

4. Influencers are often excellent content producers

Tapping into an influencer network to source content for brand-owned channels can often be a lot more cost effective than using agencies and traditional photographers etc. A brief to an influencer who’s style and photography you like may not include any sharing via social media at all, instead the project output is content for the business to use on brand-owned assets. This applies across a range of content forms including video, copy, photography, styling, strategy, the list is endless. Need a public speaker for an event, why not ask an influencer? 

5. Get real

There’s a very real shift towards vulnerability in the influencer marketing space. Audiences are growing tired of overly-polished, perfect lives and are moving towards curating spaces online that inspire and are truly meaningful. Motherhood, body positivity, diversity, gender fluidity, disability and honesty are just a few of the areas online that are garnering enormous support. Can your brand help drive one of these narratives, or support someone who’s having these important conversations with their audience? It may be time to re-think your narrative.

Misha Levin is a freelance digital marketing strategist and content creator from Johannesburg, South Africa. She’s a fan of coffee, photography, wild flowers and breakfast. Reach out if you’d like to collaborate; you can find her online @Brandslut and