by Pigar A. Mahdar
July 23rd, 2015

It’s a little bit like that oft-quoted joke – A brand and a prominent, key opinion leader walk in to a bar…

So, you walk into a bar to meet with one of the most prominent, influential, highly-regarded key opinion leaders (KOL) in the business. A few words on their timeline and your brand will immediately be in the spotlight. You both agree to have the KOL tweet about your campaign in exchange for a few bottles of the bar’s finest drinks. Everything’s fine and well – contracts signed, admin well underway. In ten seconds over 1.5 million people will read the tweets and know about your brand and campaign.

But is it too good to be true? When the influencer tweets about your campaign, they include the now common disclaimer hashtag that could make or break the integrity and influential value of both the brand and the KOL.

#ad

With the influencer market becoming more diverse and social media networks continuing to gain maturity and growth in active users, there’s no reason why brands wouldn’t engage with them to supplement their communication outreach. It’s a developing trend amongst campaign makers across the region to excessively leverage these influencers and bloggers to generate wider reach, whilst also taking advantage of their engagement with the followers. But it’s impacting on the nature of these engagements, similar to the way Facebook Ads impacted on the nature of our timelines: it just isn’t as organic as it used to be.

There’s a fine line between earned endorsements and personalised, tweet-by-tweet media placement micro-transactions that you often see on Twitter or Instagram. Of course brands would disapprove of the #ad hashtag, simply because it undermines the authenticity and value of the content and message to the followers. But bear in mind that whilst brands might want to request the hashtag gets omitted – influencers, and their readers, have every right disclose that transaction, for their authenticity.

There’s nothing wrong with having a paid element to generating endorsements, but it’s also important to have a combination of both paid and earned types of communications to ensure that your campaign remains something that the influencer is willing to share.

So before you even walk up to the bar and approach the best influencer in the industry, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. How do they engage with brands: Take a look at their social media channels and study the way they communicate their endorsements. Aligning the brand with the KOL’s is absolutely necessary, but even more so when you want to make sure that they also can communicate your campaign well.

2. Form a relationship, then an engagement: When you live in a country as social and as personal as Indonesia, and no doubt many others across the region, it pays to create long-lasting relationships with tsignificant KOL’s on a personal level. Understand their passion and interests, and maybe try to find something to share between yourself and the influencers you’re engaging with.

3. Get to the details: Don’t assume that every influencer shares the same practices. Not every KOL will use the #ad hashtag, because not every one of them will share the same point of view. It’s important to plan out each and every aspect of the engagement to ensure there won’t be any surprises at the campaign end.

4. Let them experience the brand: Social media was made to give people the opportunity to share their experience and ideas to other people. Great engagement with influencers are those that provide them with the experience and stories that extend the value of your brand or campaign. So supplement the paid element of the engagement by giving them an experience, and let them make their own story about the brand to tell to their followers.

 By Pigar A. Mahdar, Associate – Digital at Weber Shandwick Indonesia

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