Daily Harvest has made headlines lately (and influencers are to blame).
Interestingly, influencers have landed squarely in the crosshairs of that coverage.
The same influencers credited for helping build Daily Harvest into a brand whose valuation topped $1 billion last November are now to blame for the brand’s downward spiral in the public eye.
According to CNN “…Daily Harvest’s emergence as a household name was linked in large part to its aggressive social media (influencer) campaigns.”
In the face of a recall and massive public scrutiny, these same influencers are now being called out as risky, with their power to lift brand awareness labeled a blessing and a curse.
Let that sink in.
Media coverage of a product recall is focused on influencers who at one time supported the brand.
No wonder many brands mistakenly avoid working with influencers, when these types of misconceptions are held up as the unavoidable outcome of working with them. In fact, transparency and authenticity are the foundation of working with influencers, even when a crisis occurs. When brands embrace this reality, they can supercharge the results of their influencer marketing efforts.
What’s a brand to do when navigating the tricky waters of influencer marketing?
I’ve been working with influencers since 2010 and built a best-in-class agency devoted to this industry.
Because influencer marketing works. It connects your brand to the right consumers with the right messaging and drives those consumers to action.
That doesn’t mean it’s as simple as shipping product to the next YouTuber you see and hoping for the best. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Like any successful strategy, influencer marketing and outreach must be thoughtful and thorough. Brands who get this right will grow their brands significantly and even weather the turbulence of a crisis much better than brands who don’t.
3 Tips for Successful Influencer Marketing (Before, During, and After a Crisis)
1) Get your house in order.
Often, brands handle influencer marketing in a scattered fashion. It is designated “low priority,” so there are few—if any—formal systems in place to guide influencer relationships. This leaves the dangerous gaps that plagued Daily Harvest, such as not including influencers in crisis communications and mishandling brand messaging via influencers.
- Who “owns” influencer marketing on your team? How many people “touch” influencers?
- What are the lines of communication and the rules for engagement? How does your team reach out and when?
- How often do you evaluate your process for gaps (e.g. team members who are out on maternity leave or who have taken another role/job)?
2) Protect your investments.
The cost of marketing decreases as consumers develop brand awareness and loyalty. This is a painfully evident misstep in Daily Harvest’s reckless approach to influencer relationships: the investment cost of “acquiring” influencers who were loyal and supportive of the brand in the beginning was flushed down the tubes by completely ignoring those same influencers when a crisis developed. Daily Harvest missed a huge opportunity to communicate effectively with consumers through their established influencer community. Instead, they poured lighter fluid on those relationships (and the inherent marketing value they held) and lit a match.
- Who in our influencer community can help us carry out our crisis communications strategy?
- Have we communicated with all influencers in our rolodex about this situation? If not, why not?
3) Stay in the conversation to own the conversation.
Brand marketing teams are full of creative, talented people. Unfortunately, these teams often create bubbles of thought and strategies incubated with blinders on, because they are not talking to anyone outside of that team. The conversation about your brand is already happening beyond the bubbles you may have unintentionally created. Daily Harvest had a front row seat to the crisis that was unfolding. Influencers weren’t going to be the only consumers to become ill, but they could have served as the proverbial canary in the coal mine, if the brand had been unafraid to hear bad news from them.
- Are we monitoring every step of our influencer outreach process to gain deeper insight into our consumer?
- Are we creating open feedback loops with our influencers (who are in direct contact with our consumers)?
- Have we developed appropriate guidelines for nurturing our core influencers “in sickness and health?”
Working with influencers is not hard, but it must be done right. And, as Daily Harvest has shown, there is a right way and a wrong way. Leverage these questions to position your brand to reap the benefits, minimize the risk, and fuel brand growth with direct consumer engagement and insight via influencer marketing.
To help you get started, we’re sharing our Influencer Checklist to ensure your next campaign is a success. Download that here.
At Maverick Mindshare, we are celebrating 12+ years of helping smart brand managers own the conversation with consumers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (484) 240-5880 to discuss custom influencer marketing and consumer engagements strategies for your brand.