So now Casper is wary of influencers.
Yes, the brand that nearly invented the term “disrupter” when it shook up the sleepy mattress industry with its flashy and ubiquitous DTC marketing, now seems to have second thoughts — at least that’s what recent media reports took from the $1 billion company’s recent pre-IPO filings.
"Influencers with whom we maintain relationships could also engage in behavior or use their platforms to communicate directly with our customers in a manner that reflects poorly on our brand.” —Casper IPO filing
Yes, it’s true. Influencers who engage in bad behavior can harm the company. The same is true for executives, employees and even customers, especially the lack thereof. Casper’s filing details plenty of potential investment risks, including a potential decline in sales. Who knew that decreased sales could lead to less profits? Sound the alarms.
Because that’s exactly what some writers did when they read the line about influencer marketing. Ding dong, the industry is dead.
But let’s get real. While it’s certainly true that some brands have found themselves in hot water with certain influencers, the vast majority of brand/influencer partnerships continue to be free of scandal — and even better, continue to flourish.
Avoiding Influencer Scandal
That said, as with any partnership, working with influencers are just one of the inherent risks that come from doing business and selling in the real world. That’s why there are three important steps brands should take to keep their influencer marketing safe and successful.
First, while it can be tempting to partner with celebrity-level influencers, think twice. The greater the visibility, the greater the risk for negative attention. Instead, look to smaller more authentic influencers, who are not only far less expensive to work with, but often outperform in terms of engagement due to their passion, knowledge, and accessibility.
Second, turn away from big-number “vanity metrics” and aim instead for meaningful engagement. Micro influencers — those with between 10,000 to 100,000 followers on any given social platform — tend to provide the genuine recommendations that consumers seek.
Third, consider the relationship you have with your influencer network. At Casper, the mattress company opted to work with thousands of influencers big and small, primarily by sending free products in exchange for a review or mention. For sure, this approach can be less expensive than directly paying influencers; however, without a contract or any kind of campaign brief to adhere to, the quality of the poster’s content is completely out of your control.
How to Work With Influencers
The best briefs spell out what is expected of influencers and includes specific deliverables.
At minimum, briefs should clearly outline the campaign goals and key product and brand messages. Further details can include content prompts; a theme outline; what not to include (e.g., messaging to avoid, phrases you dislike); detailed social share requirements such as links, hashtags and tags; image direction, including brand assets and sample photography: deadlines; content review process; exclusivity and licensing requirements; as well as FTC disclosure guidelines.
Taking such steps will help mitigate risk when working with influencers. So too will choosing the best influencers for your particular campaign as well as reviewing content to catch any disclosure issues before publication.