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Opinion

How Influencers Can Make People Comfortable with Post-Pandemic Events in the US

The stellar COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the U.S. provides hope that the return of in-person events and celebrations is just around the corner. While this news is encouraging if you regularly relied on event marketing before the coronavirus, you can’t expect everything to go back to the pre-pandemic version of normal.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 35% of Americans still worry about contracting COVID-19. Although that figure is the lowest since April 2020, it’s still a significant percentage of the population. Other people might feel apprehensive about social interactions after living in isolation for so long, and this anxiety could sabotage the success of events.

The good news is that there’s a solution to help your marketing department address both of these concerns: influencer marketing. Influencers are able to interact authentically with their audiences and serve as trusted resources. Not all influencer marketing efforts will be automatic successes, but they can help you navigate the return of in-person gatherings.

Integrating influencers into post-pandemic events

When social media influencer Arielle Charnas allegedly used her status to get a COVID-19 test early in the pandemic — when tests were incredibly difficult to obtain — the move sparked significant backlash. If you’re looking to integrate influencers into your upcoming events, the story serves as a reminder to be strategic and cautious when establishing a partnership.

The following six steps can help you do so:

1. Settle on a clear objective.

Whether your goal is better brand awareness, more online sales, or increased customer foot traffic at your brick-and-mortar locations, you’ll need to identify clear benchmarks if you want to use influencer marketing to its fullest potential.

Different creators will have unique specialties. The most effective partnerships are the ones that remember this and begin with an end goal in mind. What do you want to accomplish? How can an influencer help you do that?

2. Identify ideal partners.

Just because some influencers have thousands or millions of followers, it doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your campaign or brand. Before considering partnerships, you should dive into influencers’ content and look carefully at how they engage their audiences.

Pay particularly close attention to sponsored content. Which brands have they partnered with? Would you want your brand to be included in that roster? How has the audience reacted to these partnerships? If there is a high ratio of sponsored posts or they’re working with other brands in your category, you might want to look elsewhere for a more impactful partnership.

3. Develop thorough creative briefs.

Influencers need specs to send the right message, so develop creative briefs with clear guidelines on your brand’s tone, character, and target personas. Just make sure you don’t curb anyone’s creativity. Writing an overly prescriptive creative brief can pigeonhole influencers and make it more difficult for them to put their unique spin on the message.

Remember that you’re working with influencers for their ability to connect with followers authentically. If you place too many restrictions on how those connections are forged, you’re liable to sabotage those efforts before they begin.

Develop a brief that outlines clear expectations for the message you want to send, but let the influencer decide how best to deliver it. Also, it’s called a creative brief for a reason; limit it to three pages (at most) if you want influencers to read it thoroughly.

4. Offer feedback, but don’t micromanage.

It’s okay to edit copy for character or clarity, but try to avoid excessive revisions. Creators have amassed an audience because they know what resonates with their followers.

Trust them to do their job just like you would trust a seasoned employee. The more revisions you make, the more both parties will feel frustrated with the partnership. If you decide that a project needs a major overhaul, it’s a good idea to outline your revised goals in a new contract or creative brief.

5. Follow up for maximum benefit.

After the conclusion of a project, comb through comments to see what an influencer’s fans and followers say about your brand. Even if the message didn’t resonate, these comments offer important clues about why the campaign missed its mark. They can help you ensure a better return on investment in future partnerships.

Not all mentions of your brand will include your social media handles, so invest in social listening tools. These solutions can help cut through the noise and gauge sentiment about your brand.

6. Ensure rules and regulations are followed.

Plenty of influencers didn’t set out to build a marketable social media presence. Instead, they simply posted their authentic experiences and perspectives in a way that attracted an audience.

These grassroots beginnings are great for engagement, but they also mean that some influencers might not understand the rules and regulations governing their partnerships. Make sure influencers label sponsored content correctly, and don’t let them endorse or review a product without actually trying it first. The last thing you want is a partnership that lands an influencer (and your brand) in hot water.

Influencers command a substantial amount of trust, and their involvement with your event can make the difference between success and failure. As you put together a strategy for event success in the post-pandemic era, put influencers — and your company — in a position to thrive.

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