It’s safe to say that influencers are creatively and effectively changing the landscape of digital marketing. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook offer natural ways to introduce brands and products in a way that was simply not available previously. Channels like Instagram Stories and Snapchat offer an even more candid, behind-the-scenes look at the way certain products, companies or brands are shaping the lives of influencers.
But what goes into those curated blog posts we see pop up on our news feed? Or the seemingly flawless social posts? The answer is simple: A WHOLE LOT.
Before an influencer even agrees to a partnership with a business or brand, they take the time to evaluate the opportunity. Is it a good fit for my audience? Will this partnership be mutually beneficial? Do I have enough time to do a good job in content creation?
Once an influencer accepts a job, he or she takes the time to develop a story idea surrounding the product or brand. Let’s use sunscreen, for example. Everyone knows that sunscreen is important, but why is it important? It’s an influencer’s job to weave the product or brand into a genuine story that flows organically into their established base of followers. Perhaps the influencer has a history of skin cancer and provides tips for being sun smart, or lives in a tropical location and wants to share what is in their beach bag. Regardless of the storyline, it is far more than “Hey look at this sunscreen I bought! You should buy it, too!”
After the post topic is established, the influencer will get to work on writing. Sometimes this proves to be the most difficult part as the goal is to both showcase the product, but also weave it into a genuine story that is both a reflection of the influencer and of the brand without sounding like an advertisement.
Once the content has been written, it’s time to photograph. If you don’t already own the product, you’ll need to go pick some up at the store, as well as any additional props you may need. If you’re sharing what’s in your beach bag from the example above, you’ll want to make sure your beach bag is clean, you have a towel ready and all the other essentials are ready to be photographed as well.
Are you beginning to see that this is a bit more than write, point, shoot and publish?!
Most influencers are pretty detail-oriented so just shooting the contents of their beach bag for the aforementioned sunscreen post may take an entire afternoon. Getting the shot from multiple angles, using a bokeh effect or other special detail, and making sure the lighting is just right are all just a few things influencers have to think about while photographing.
These photos were taken in an afternoon of shooting on behalf of a post I am working on for Aquafina. Trying to work with factors I could control (props, photo styling, photography), as well as factors outside of my control (sun, wind, other people on the beach and rain) were all part of a shoot that lasted well over 3 hours and only produced a handful of quality shots.
Once the writing has been done and the photos have been taken (and edited!), the influencer now has the task of proofing their content to make sure it aligns with the agreed upon parameters of the partnership. Though this sounds like the frosting of the project, sometimes details are forgotten, photos need to be re-shot and paragraphs you fell in love with writing need to be omitted entirely. It’s important to note that some brands request access to the posting for their own internal editing, particularly if it is a larger, more well-known company that needs to have their legal department check for any infringements. Sometimes this process alone takes a week or longer!
The time has come – it’s finally time to publish the post and set it free on the internet, so the influencer’s job is done, right? Wrong. With most influencer posts, social media touting is a required component of a partnership, so drafting tweets, pins, Instagram and Facebook posts, as well as Snapchat and Instagram stories, is a crucial step on the day the post goes live.
A large majority of the time, influencers take the brunt of commentary that includes sentiments about how easy their lives must be or how fun it must be to just be at home all the time. While the job of an influencer certainly offers flexibility and perks, at the end of the day – it’s still a job. One thing is for certain – as the landscape of digital technology continues to evolve, influencers are not going anywhere.
About the Author: Kait Hanson is a Hawaii-based writer who focuses on food, travel and lifestyle topics. She is a bar columnist for Metro Honolulu and contributing writer for Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, People Magazine and more. When she’s not writing, she can be found trying a new restaurant with her husband or playing with her two chocolate Labs, Judy and Bill, at the beach.