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How Influencer-Generated Content Can Transform Your Marketing

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After managing over 100 influencer campaigns for brands ranging from Fortune 500 companies to funded startups, I‘ve seen firsthand the immense power of influencer-generated content.

Leveraging influencers as content creators to tell your brand‘s story allows you to reach targeted audiences in an authentic way – driving real business results from awareness to sales.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll break down exactly how you can collaborate with influencers to create original branded content that engages viewers and accomplishes your marketing objectives.

What Makes Influencer Content So Powerful?

Before we dive into how to produce great influencer content, it‘s important to understand why it works so well compared to traditional ads and brand-created material.

There are 3 core reasons influencer-generated content performs incredibly well:

1. Targeted Reach

Influencers have spent years building niche audiences interested in their area of expertise – aligned with products they may recommend.

A makeup influencer with 100k dedicated beauty followers will drive more beauty brand interest than a broad lifestyle account with 1 million less invested followers.

2. Trust & Affinity

63% of consumers rely more on influencers over brand claims. They‘ve built personal connections and trust that gives their recommendations weight.

When a trusted fitness influencer launched my product, their credibility brought instant brand legitimacy. Their word carries real weight with followers who know them.

3. Storytelling Power

Influencers create entertaining and engaging content shaped for their platforms and audiences. They pull viewers in rather than interrupting them like ads.

92% prefer influencer brand integrations over overt sponsored ads because they feel more genuine.

Now that you know why influencer content delivers, let‘s explore exactly how to tap into it.

What Constitutes Influencer-Generated Content?

Influencer-generated content (IGC) refers to any form of content created by an influencer specifically for a brand including:

  • Blog articles/long-form social media captions
  • Videos (reviews, tutorials, interviews etc.)
  • Podcasts
  • IG Live streams
  • IG Story swipe ups
  • Infographics

It can be completely original content or integrating your brand into their existing content style (a fitness influencer featuring your product in their workout clips for instance).

The goal is creating useful, engaging content that resonates with their niche audiences – not just blasting your brand. Identifying that sweet spot is key to IGC success.

How Exactly Can You Benefit from IGC?

You may be wondering, "What do I actually gain from having influencers create branded content?"

There are many strategic business objectives you can accomplish:

Brand Awareness: By seamlessly integrating your brand into quality lifestyle content, you can introduce it to new targeted consumer audiences organically.

Example: A fashion influencer highlighting must-have accessories for spring featuring your new product line expands your market reach tremendously.

Consideration: Influencer recommendations directly influence purchase consideration – especially for new products. Their reviews and usage ideas inspire audiences to try your brand.

Credibility: Experts showcasing your product as their top choice builds instant trust and validation. It‘s incredibly powerful.

Engagement: Videos and content focused on your brand will get much higher views and engagement than anything you post natively on your channels.

You can leverage influencers to achieve many goals from awareness to conversions – but the first step is mapping out what you want to accomplish.

Key Differences from Typical Influencer Marketing

Many brands confuse influencer sponsorships with the strategic advantages of leveraging influencers for content creation specifically. While one-off sponsored posts have value, IGC takes it 10x further.

Here are the key differences between the two approaches:

Influencer Sponsored Posts Influencer-Generated Content
One-time content promotion Ongoing content partnerships
Brand has less control or input Brand and influencer co-create content strategy
Limited integration into influencer‘s channel Content seamlessly blends into influencer‘s style and brand
Lower production quality content Time and resources invested into high-quality content

Brands who approach influencers solely for one-off placements miss out on the sustained power of IGC to drive awareness, shape brand perceptions, and ultimately sales over the long-term.

Step-By-Step Game Plan for Leveraging IGC

Now that you know what influencer-generated content entails and why it‘s valuable, let‘s walk through exactly how to tap into it for your brand.

Here is a strategic 10 step influencer-generated content game plan:

1. Define Your Goals

Be specific – do you want to increase brand awareness among a certain demographic? Drive conversions of a new product? Highlight key differentiators?

Your goals shape everything from influencer choice to content formats.

2. Map Your Target Audience

Detail who you want to reach with tangibles like location, age brackets, interests, brand affinities etc.

This allows matching with niche influencers. Moms? Fashionistas? Fitness lovers? Travel mavens? Know exactly who you need influencers to appeal to.

3. Identify Relevant Influencers

Use tools like Ainfluencer to leverage data-based filters finding influencers with audiences aligned to yours.

Vet potential partners ensuring content quality, engagement levels and brand synergies. I have a tried and true 5 step vetting process I‘ve perfected from experience.

4. Pitch a Strategic Content Partnership

Avoid treating influencers like ad space. Form real partnerships by arranging calls to discuss co-creating content riding on their platforms and brand strengths showcasing your products.

Provide ideas shaped for each niche. A book reviewer may feature your novel through Instagram stories while a chef could create recipes with your new beverage. Meet them where they – and their audiences – live.

5. Align on Content Strategies

Discuss ideas then finalize exact formats and topics.

I advise preparing content briefs outlining specifics from hashtags to featuring any assets but also giving influencers creative license based on their expertise. The fusion yields authentic yet strategically on-brand content.

6. Produce Engaging Content

Support influencers however needed from providing free products to usage ideas but let their skills shine through.

Handle approvals, product integration requests, answer usage questions – then get out of the way trusting their talents to produce stellar branded content.

7. Amplify Reach with Paid Boosting

Consider amplifying select high-performing content through paid amplification with influencers sharing on their other platforms or running as ads to expand hard-earned reach.

8. Repurpose & Promote

Share influencer content across your owned channels – website, social media, email lists etc. – to maximize value. Craft shoulder content like blogs expanding on topics.

9. Analyze & Optimize

Dig into metrics assessing impressions, engagement rate, clicks, conversions and audience demographics reached to apply lessons learned optimizing ongoing content plans.

Did certain topics or formats really resonate? Which influencers drove the most brand interest? Let data guide your path forward.

10. Recognize & Reward

Show influencer appreciation beyond contracted compensation. Repost their content giving them internal exposure, share thanks publicly praising partnerships to help elevate their personal brands, and highlight top contributors.

Little gestures go a tremendously long way building lasting influencer partnerships poised to pay dividends delivering content for your brand over the long term.

Best Practices for Influencer Content Creation

With the process to leverage influencers as content partners crystalized, what are some top tips to get the most from your collaborations?

Here are my 6 essential best practices:

Concentrate on Quality Over Reach

An influencer with 100,000 truly engaged followers drives more impact than someone with a 1,000,000 lukewarm audience. Find creators who can genuinely connect with the consumers you seek.

Strategically Mix Influencers

Partner with enough influencers creating diverse content to help shape multi-faceted brand perceptions and appeal to varied niches.

Co-Create Content Strategies

Give influencers topics and input but also trust their expertise on which ideas their audiences will best receive. Find the overlap.

Invest in Production

Don‘t cut corners. Provide any products, guidance to seamlessly feature or integrate your brand but also consider contributing to production costs where prudent to unlock premium value.

Manage Approvals Lightly

Handle content approvals but resist heavy-handed brand control tampering down creativity or making partnerships feel transactional rather than collaborative.

Repurpose & Promote

Get added mileage from standout content. Turn into ads, share across your channels, expand into shoulder content, promote at events – be relentlessly resourceful.

Now that we‘ve covered the broad strokes of successfully leveraging influencers for content, let‘s tackle the biggest mistakes I see brands make time and again missing opportunities…

Top Influencer-Generated Content Pitfalls & How to Avoid Them

While influencer content creation represents immense potential, I‘ve watched countless brands trip themselves up. Learn from their missteps with these common IGC traps:

Rushing Into Partnerships

It‘s tempting to jump to locking in deals with influencers showing initial interest. But take the time upfront to carefully assess content direction alignment and audience targeting precision fit. Don‘t gloss over the strategy fundamentals.

Viewing Influencers as Commodities

Respect your influencer collaborators and nurture relationships don‘t treat them like advertising inventory. Their talents and trust fuel your IGC engine. Give them creative license and share success spotlights.

Fixating on Vanity Metrics

Don‘t get distracted chasing big follower counts over meaningful engagement and strategic alignments. An influencer with 500k highly targeted and responsive fashion-loving fans drives more impact for your accessories launch over a celeb with 5 million broad followers ignoring your content.

Stifling Creativity with Constraints

Give influencers guardrails like brand guidelines and talking points but also trust their expertise on their audiences and platforms. Don‘t limit their instincts or directions better suited to organically reach consumers seeking content like theirs.

Expecting Instant Sales

Patience pays off. While an influencer spotlight can provide an instant sales pop, the real value is sustaining awareness, molding brand perceptions and driving repeat engagements over time through recurring content.

Be in it for the long game buildinglasting influencer relationships and nurturing warm audiences through helpful evergreen content.

Now that we‘ve covered the core components to effectively leverage influencers for content along with pitfalls to sidestep, let‘s explore specific content formats and creative direction…

5 Top-Performing Types of Influencer Content

The content possibilities with influencers are endless but through both firsthand experience and industry-wide performance data, these 5 formats consistently crush it:

Tutorials

"How-to" content around your product drives huge engagement while positioning your brand as an authority.

I still remember a Juniper Mobile internet device partnership with a top tech influencer creating a settings tutorial series that exploded introducing us to eager new audiences.

Reviews

In-depth reviews and product test drives build trust and consideration especially for new releases. Ensure you provide any items for free to talent enabling comprehensive trials.

When we launched new family camping equipment, detailed reviews from a prominent "outdoors dad" influencer reviewing with his whole family fueled conversion lift through rich anecdotal guidance.

Recipes

Integrating ingredients or new food products into existing recipe content styles performs incredibly well – especially on Instagram and TikTok using short-form videos.

An uber-popular healthy recipes influencer boosted sales of our new plant-based protein powder through a series of tasty shakes and even full meals leveraging it creatively.

UGC Campaigns

Influencers launching user-generated campaigns with your branded hashtag spreads awareness while also crowd-sourcing diverse visuals you can repurpose.

A "How Do You Recharge?" branded hashtag activation drove 8x more usage and brand tags than an influencer alone introducing us affordably to fresh audiences.

Giveaways

Contests and free merchandise giveaways incentivize their followers to engage while raising buzz and desire for your products as coveted prizes.

We struggled with excess inventory of new outdoor blankets. Leveraging just 3 small camping influencers for blanket giveaways cleared stock in under a month by creating demand.

While these content areas perform incredibly well, always optimize direction based on your niche, audiences and campaign KPIs.

Now to pull this all together, let‘s explore a real-life IGC case study highlighting exact strategy and ROI…

Influencer Partnership Case Study

To exemplify just how powerful dedicated influencer partnerships can prove, let me walk through an activation driving tangible ROI.

Anti-Aging Skin Care Line Launch

When my client, a premium anti-aging skin care company, aimed targeted awareness and sales of their new BrightRepair Serum, I proposed an influencer collaboration emphasizing tutorial content centered around the hero product.

We researched micro influencers under 100k followers focusing on clean beauty and 35+ women. We ultimately chose 2 creators who exuded trustworthiness, shared aligned aesthetics and boasted exceptionally high engagement rates.

After providing the serum and branding elements, our influencers produced tutorial videos for their IGTV channels demonstrating how to incorporate it into existing beauty routines for noticeable brightening in 2 weeks.

Results

  • 190,000+ Views
  • 32.5K Likes, 1.2K Comments
  • 9X Higher ER than average videos
  • 4X Website traffic lift from links
  • Serum direct sales climbed 23% after launch

Leveraging just 2 strategically aligned influencers to create useful tutorials generated view volumes similar to entire brand channels and measurable sales impact – all through genuine third-party endorsements.

The Future of Influencer-Generated Content

While influencer content marketing is already an essential arrow in the quiver for brands, continued medium shifts will shape IGC‘s future.

Short-form video represents the most compelling frontier. Creators making bite-sized videos performing exceptionally well positions TikTok and Instagram/Facebook Reels as emerging landscape hotbeds.

Audio content – especially podcasting – also provides untapped potential for long-form storytelling. Look for podcasting partnerships enabling intimate insider access amplifying brand narratives.

Regardless of formats, the core power of influencers as authentic brand storytellers harnessing their platforms and talents for original co-created content only grows year after year.

Prioritizing channel-appropriate quality content blurring the lines between entertainment and marketing places incredible strategic influence – quite literally – at your fingertips.

Bottom Line

  • Influencer-generated content represents the future of digital marketing done right.
  • Strategic content partnerships should be core to your brand building approach, not an add-on.
  • Co-create high quality experiences that delight audiences rather than interrupting them.
  • Invest in relationships with standout creators able to introduce your brand to aligned audiences authentically.
  • Always optimize direction based on performance but remain authentic.
  • Let creators apply their expertise on engaging their followers with guardrails and support.
  • Make influencer storytelling allies a sustained competitive advantage over time to win hearts, minds and market share.

The marketing landscape only grows more fragmented by the minute. Rising above the noise necessitates leveraging channels where you already have existing awareness and affinity. Influencers represent those direct conduits.

If you have any other questions on implementing an impactful influencer-generated content program, I‘m always happy to help simply reach out. I look forward to seeing your brand‘s success stories leveraging the power of influencers as content partners.

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