Miscommunication kills. The majority of fatal influencer marketing problems happen when brands and influencers don’t communicate clearly via the campaign brief. This is true all over the world, but for Western companies working with Chinese influencers, the stakes are higher due to language barriers, cultural differences, and a unique social media and e-commerce ecosystem in China.
Brands can mitigate these factors by giving influencers clear and detailed campaign briefs.
Influencers cannot read your mind. They can’t avoid mistakes if they don’t know your ground rules. Furthermore, China’s influencer industry has grown at an incredible pace over the past few years. That means many influencers have seen their audience numbers explode overnight and are still in the beginning stages of learning how to work with brands.
Ideally, whenever you collaborate with an influencer, you should provide a campaign outline with everything from basic info to detailed content requirements. Campaign briefs might seem like a lot of effort up-front, but they prevent headaches in the long run.
If your brand is running the campaign through an office in China or a third-party agency, providing a brief is even more crucial. More parties involved means a higher chance that someone will miss essential info along the way. To ensure your guidelines and materials are accurate for China, have your local agency review and refine the brief before sending it off to the influencer.
PARKLU’s Campaign Brief Part 1
At the minimum, to avoid influencer marketing problems, a campaign brief should include:
- An intro to the campaign. Which brand or product is it for?
- Goals and content for the campaign. Do you want to drive sales or generate awareness? What results are you looking for from the influencer?
- What type of content should the influencer create? Video, photo, live stream, or written? Which platforms should they use?
- Campaign mechanisms. If the campaign is sales-oriented, where will the product be sold? Will there be a discount code or a special link?
To avoid influencer marketing problems, do not see the campaign brief as a way to control the influencer. Instead, a useful summary empowers the influencer to work creatively. It provides influencers with resources to start conversations about you and your brand.
Answering these questions is a great place to start. However, the best campaign briefs go further. They outline clear content dos and don’ts that help the influencer understand what the brand has in mind, without micromanaging and stifling the influencer’s creativity.
PARKLU’s Campaign Brief Part 2
Content dos include:
- How has your brand used creative marketing in the past?
- Which influencers’ and brands’ content do you like?
- Examples of the KOL’s past content that you really like. Let the influencer why that content resonated with you.
- Format requirements
- Platform, length, logos, fonts, etc.
- Posting date and time requirements
- Check with the influencer on this as they might have a specific publishing schedule for their audience.
- Percentage of brand content
- Brands shouldn’t expect all content to be about themselves, even if they sponsored it. This is content marketing, not an ad. The job of the KOL is to create interesting content that integrates your product in a way that their audience will enjoy. The content will need a greater theme and message beyond just sharing your product.
- Key messaging
- Asking the influencer to include key talking points is OK, but let them do it in their voice. If their content is obviously scripted or packed with too many brand messages, their audience will be turned off, potentially igniting a backlash.
*Note: If you are not using PARKLU when sharing files, images, and links with influencers, be aware of China’s internet restrictions. Dropbox and G Suite are blocked in China and while your international PR agency may have access to a VPN, the influencer may not. There are a number of services like Baidu Cloud that you can use instead to upload files.
PARKLU’s Campaign Brief Part 3
Something the majority of brands, even experienced ones, fail to include in their campaign briefs is content don’ts. They can be even more important than content do’s when trying to mitigate influencer marketing problems.
Content don’ts include:
- Posting about competitors
- If you are a watch brand working with a fashion influencer, you might not want to see posts about another watch brand a couple of days after your campaign. To avoid this, you can set a rule that the influencer is not allowed to post about a competitor’s product for, say, a month after your campaign.
- Keeping posts at the top of a feed
- Many Chinese social media platforms allow users to pin posts to the top of their feed. Unpinned posts lose visibility when new ones are published. Brands can negotiate with the influencer to leave a post pinned for a specified period.
- Deleting posts
- Some influencer regularly delete commercial posts from their feed after some time.
- Is the brand allowed to distribute the influencer’s content on their own channels?
- Many top-tier influencers expect extra compensation if their content appears on additional channels. On the other hand, smaller influencers might see this as an opportunity to gain exposure.
- Mentioning other brands or e-commerce sites
- If the influencer creates a holiday wish list, for example, they will probably mention other products besides yours’. It is important to point out specific brands they should leave out.
PARKLU’s Campaign Brief Part 4
Mitigating influencer marketing problems starts with the marketer. After you’ve created a comprehensive campaign brief, share it with the influencer and ask for their feedback. Once you’ve clarified any remaining questions, sit back and let the content creator do what they’re best at… creating amazing content.