Guest post by Pauline Ma, Digital Strategist
There are certain questions that should be easy for today’s influencers (and social media stars, content creators, or whatever other lingo you’d like to use to characterize them) to answer: How did you get your start? What do you look for when companies and brands reach out to you in hopes of a partnership? Other questions are not as clear-cut: How do you determine your pricing model? How do you maintain creative control and actually tell a story?
At SXSW Interactive, many a panel focused on the topics of content creation, native advertising and social media engagement. These discussions tend to become pretty predictable in these types of settings: for example, a phrase like “be authentic, engaging and relevant” more than met its quota.
So why are we still talking about them if the concepts are no longer new? Panelists shed light on the challenges that still exist, like navigating available budget for integrated campaigns, buy-in and understanding from higher ups on what collaborating with influencers to create content can do for brand stories, and how to strike that healthy balance between “yes, this content is sponsored” and “here’s the voice of the influencer you know and trust.”
What we heard was that generally, the available budget for sponsored content campaigns still remains small in comparison to the larger pool of funds reserved for traditional marketing — and often the support for these campaigns is a blend of PR and social media budgets too. At the root of this often is the need to educate those in senior management (and those who hold the key to unlock more freedoms with budget) about expectations for what these kinds of collaborations can deliver and how they can be measured.
One common remark from a panel of millennial content creators and video personalities particularly struck a chord with us: “when we receive pitches, we want to know upfront what we’re going to get out of it.” For those of us working in healthcare, this is something to keep in mind. How can we push ourselves to be creative with what we can offer our partners? If not (or in addition to) cutting them a check, what kinds of experiences can we offer? An understanding of an influencer’s following, personal brand, and strengths in content creation is crucial to ensuring a partnership is beneficial to both parties. More often than not, influencers feel that the cold pitches they’re getting are so laser-focused on supporting some business goal on the back-end and overlook focusing on the meaningful impact that can be created out of the partnership.
Particularly within healthcare, we know finding the right influencers is not easy – and so we need to ensure we’re thinking about what we can do differently in order to create truly authentic partnerships that are about more than just click-throughs and engagements.