Top 10 Tips for Branded Content Partnerships with Influencers

This year’s BlogHer ’15 brought leading marketers and online content creators together in New York City for two days of networking, learning and thought leadership.

I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel on Branded Content (long form) and thoroughly enjoyed the robust conversation my fellow panelists and I had on the many applications of co-created content for brand marketing. Since I live and breathe influencer marketing, my tips focused on successful co-created content between brands and online content creators.  Read on for my top tips –

 

  • Branded content has evolved (for us at least) from an opportunistic or event-specific tactic to an always on approach becoming a steady, programmatic and ongoing priority.
  • Find the right partner and don’t rush the selection process. Objectives and partner criteria are extremely important at the upfront of building a high performing content partnership. Creators, too, have the power to make choices on the partnerships that work best for them. So the concept of “right fit” goes both ways for creators and marketers.
  •  Lean on your creators/vendor partners.  They are living the space just as much as you are.  Often times their vision of how to bring a concept to life is going to perform best on their channels.  Some of our programs truly evolve into something much better given the way a partner or creator inputs during the briefing session.
  • Just because a study comes out and every other brand is doing partnerships with vloggers, doesn’t mean you should as well.  You still need to do your homework and make sure the platform and expected content makes sense for the brand and the brand’s objectives.
  • Social listening and search data are key pieces of research that should be digested to inform program development, influencer selection, content parameters and messaging.
  • It’s not just about reach, it’s about engagement. When looking for content partners, don’t just go with the person with the largest following or the network who promises the most results.  Really dive deeper into the relationship the creator has with his/her audience and the typical level of engagement they receive from their community.
  • Avoid overbranding. When possible use benchmark examples of other successful sponsored content as a guide. Being able to show an example of content that has done very well against a piece of content that hasn’t done as well should help determine how much branding should be included.
  • One of the biggest challenges with branded content is that as the price tag goes up, there’s a natural desire that the end content is going to be even more branded and more ownable. You have to be willing to give up a little creative control and empower the right content creators to lead you down the path where you’ll be the most successful.
  • Don’t forget distribution and amplification.  Developing a distribution strategy that allows a brand to borrow equity (and ultimately followers) from an influencer over to a brand’s platforms/properties is really strategic.  Leveraging paid to drive additional eyeballs is also a smart leverage of content.
  • Branded content continues to grow given the rise of personality based content. Consumers follow other people “like” them.  Whether it’s similar lifestyle or someone who feels a person’s style or humor is something they can relate to – they become incredibly engaged and often times very loyal.  Couple that with the weight of peer-to-peer recommendations and the evolution of the product research & the shopping experience, there’s a real benefit to harnessing the power of online ambassadors to create content and drive awareness.