How To: Working with Fashion Influencers – How To: Working with Fashion Influencers
As a business owner, you’ve probably heard the term “Influencer Marketing”, but what exactly is it? Influencer Marketing (IM) is a form of marketing where the focus is placed on specific individuals, rather than the target market as a whole.
In recent years, and with the extreme growth in blogs and social media, IM has gained quite a bit of traction, with businesses utilizing popular Hollywood and internet celebrities to showcase their products. What initially started with big brands affiliating themselves with the uber-famous faces of Kim Kardashian and Gigi Hadid, has trickled down into businesses of all sizes using semi-famous members of their target audiences to gain more exposure among an influencer’s following.
Why? Because when it comes down to it, internet and social media users are beginning to trust the opinions of those they follow, more so than that of the businesses they shop.
As you can probably imagine, IM is especially beneficial to businesses in the fashion industry, where the followers of influencers can see the product, follow the seller, and purchase the item, all within a few quick clicks and swipes.
Here at The Boutique Hub, we get a lot of questions from boutique and brand owners, wanting to work with fashion influencers, but not necessarily knowing how, or where, to start.
We think the best place to start is knowing how the process works. There are two, very simple ways to work with fashion influencers.
The first is to exchange product (deliverables) for influencer services. In this scenario, the influencer will choose items up to a predetermined amount, you will pay to have them shipped, and the influencer will take photos in, and/or write a blog post about, the pieces that have been sent. The influencer then keeps the deliverables as payment for their services.
The second way is to send deliverables to an influencer, have the influencer take photos in your product, and mail the deliverables back (with a pre-paid shipping label you included in the package). In this scenario, the influencer takes monetary payment for their services. This works well if your goal is to promote a specific product, or you’re wanting the influencer to take product images that you can use on your website and social channels.
There are also some, primarily larger, bloggers, who will keep the deliverables and require monetary payment. There’s nothing wrong with this business model, but it’s important to make sure the return for your business matches the investment being made.
Now that we’ve provided you with the best ways to go about working with fashion influencers, there are a few important pieces of information to keep in mind before pulling the trigger.
- First, and foremost, you are in complete control of which fashion influencers you work with. Just because somebody sends you a message wanting to collaborate, doesn’t mean you need to say yes. As previously mentioned, working with influencers is a form of marketing. As a business owner, you wouldn’t give your marketing budget to someone who came up to you and said, “Give me your money and I’ll market for you”. Instead, you’d do your research! You’d find someone who specializes in boutique marketing, knows your audience, and knows the best ways to reach them. Using an influencer is no different. You want to work with fashion influencers who are members of, and who have followers who are members of, your ideal customer audience. This way you can ensure that the people you’re working with, and the members of their following, are people who will be interested in following and shopping your boutique/brand. If you’re wanting someone to also blog about your product, check out their blog to make sure it’s legitimate, active, and don’t be afraid to ask them to provide you with their blog statistics, such as monthly page views, engagement rates and feedback from fellow boutiques or brands.
- Having a large number of followers doesn’t guarantee a large return. When it comes to choosing influencers, what you want to look for is someone who has a normal to high engagement rate with their followers. Engagement plays into the idea of quality vs. quantity–an influencer can have 100,000 followers but only have engagement from 500 people/post, or an influencer can 10,000 followers and have engagement from 500 people/post. The biggest bang for your buck would be working with the latter, because a larger percentage of their audience is interacting with your product/business. From what we see most commonly, an engagement rate between of 5-15% is ideal. That being said, as the followers of an influencer increase, engagement can become more difficult (so influencers with 100,000+ followers are more likely to have lower engagement rates).
- Sign a contract! Before you ever send any product to an influencer, you need to provide a contract, detailing what is expected of both parties, payment details (if applicable) and what is to happen if any expectations are not met. If you don’t provide and sign a contract, you are setting yourself up for failure, because there is no possible way to protect yourself or guarantee any kind of return on your investment. A contract says that both parties are on the same page, with an understood ROI expectation.
- Don’t forget that you still have to sell your product. A lot of business owners expect an influencer to post a photo of their product, and then the product will sell itself out in thirty minutes. Yes, that can happen; but it’s a very unlikely occurrence. Instead, an influencer is going to drive traffic to your social media channels, traffic who will hopefully start following you. It’s your job to make those followers want to engage with your business and it’s products because then they’re more likely to make a purchase. After that, it’s your job to turn those first-time buyers into loyal, repeat customers by building trust and rapport with them. Build a relationship with your influencer, and sales potential over time.
Once you’ve picked an influencer to work with, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind!
- Influencers are business owners, too. DO treat them the same way you’d want a customer to treat you and your business.
- DO know an influencer’s worth, and compensate accordingly! Influencers spend days, styling outfits, scheduling photographers, paying for hair and makeup, etc, and blogging about products (if applicable). They’ve also worked very hard to cultivate their following, especially if they have a following that is very engaged. There’s far more that goes into the influencing process than simply posting a photo on social media.
- It’s very difficult for an influencer to genuinely promote a business or product that doesn’t fit their own personal style. DON’T be offended if an influencer declines the invitation to collaborate, especially if you’re selecting the product they’ll be promoting. If they say yes to collaborating, allow them to choose what fits their style.
- DON’T send items that are from last season, or on the clearance rack! It’s difficult for an influencer to promote a product, and then have to respond to messages and comments from their followers, saying they can’t buy an item because it wasn’t in stock.
- DO send deliverables in a timely manner, so that influencers can get down to business–the quicker they receive something, they quicker the turnaround time will be. If it took you three weeks to send your deliverables, DON’T expect your photos in three days.
- Be thankful! DO include a handwritten note with your deliverables, or token of appreciation, like a small necklace…both are very kind gestures that influencers really appreciate!
- If your campaign was very successful, DO let your influencer know! Influencers can use that information as a testimonial to their success, for future collaboration offers.
Always remember, the most successful Influencer relationships are in fact, relationships. Not just one time collaborations.
Now it’s your turn! Are you ready to build successful IM relationships? We have a special bonus for you, and for our Members at The Boutique Hub–a FREE sample Influencer Collaboration Contract download. Let us know what results you see in our private Facebook Groups for Boutique Owners!
Cheers, #BoutiqueBoss, to successful partnerships and a whole new audience in your near future!
Hero Image Photo Credit: Nobody’s Girl