Although the benefits of influencer marketing are huge, there are things you need to be aware of. With every influencer campaign, you must be careful, as with any other form of marketing. A couple of months ago we took a look at this in 5 mistakes you need to AVOID in your influencer campaigns. In reality, there is probably a sixth mistake you could make – forgetting to ensure that your influencers match your company values.
It is vital that you do not simply rely on follower statistics. Just because an influencer has a huge, active fan base does not mean that the influencer will necessarily be the right match for your brand.
PewDiePie’s Image Problems
PewDiePie, also known as Felix Kjellberg, is probably the most influential person on YouTube. He certainly has more people subscribed to his channel than anybody else. He probably receives more press coverage than any other social media personality.
So, does that mean that brands should all be queuing up to make deals with PewDiePie, and to make him their number one influencer of choice? Not necessarily.
PewDiePie has gained much of his fame from his outlaw-like nature. Many consider him not to be so politically correct.
He targets his videos at (predominantly male) gamers. In his videos, he screams and swears a lot as he plays games. His supporters generally relate to his quirky sense of humour, though. He sometimes uses Nazi imagery in his videos and has been accused of being anti-Semitic.
In January this year, a number of people complained when he paid two people to display a sign saying “Death to all Jews” in a video in which he mocked the services of freelancing site, Fiverr. At the time, The Wall Street Journal was already investigating his videos. They discovered that over a nine month period he had posted nine videos containing Nazi or anti-Semitic imagery.
As a result of cases like this, we like to ensure that any influencers we collaborate with for our clients have a full background check!
The controversy caused some of PewDiePie’s main sponsors to withdraw their support. Disney-owned Maker Studios, the multichannel YouTube network he worked with, dropped him from their roster. YouTube became rattled and dropped the second season of his reality show, Scare PewDiePie, removing him from their Preferred-Advertising Programme.
He has been consistent in his non-PC behaviour, and his fan base has continued to support him. The big problem appears to be a conflict between his sponsors’ company values, and the values of PewDiePie and his supporters.
Patricia Hernandez made an interesting analysis of the controversy a month on. She observed that “Kjellberg’s audience has not abandoned him”. Indeed six months after the controversy PewDiePie still has 56 million subscribers, meaning that his channel is still the most popular on YouTube.
He continues to have some sponsors and he still earns considerable sums from influencer marketing, merchandising and his many other YouTube-related money streams. The difference now, presumably, is that the current sponsors have company values more congruent with PewDiePie compared to his previous sponsors.
Disney’s Company Values
Disney describes its key values as innovation, quality, community, storytelling, optimism and decency. This last one, “decency” is particularly relevant to its wish to limit the types of people that it works with. There are three things that it bans from all of its movies – indeed it places this ban in its employment contracts:
Although swearing, racism and other anti-social behaviour aren’t on this “no go” list, it can be no surprise that Disney felt unsettled about working with PewDiePie. It wasn’t until 2003 that Disney even released a PG-13 film – the original Pirates of the Caribbean holding that dubious record.
What are Your Company Values?
One problem many businesses have is that their company values are hazy and vague. Often they are just something stated by corporate leaders for image purposes. Key stakeholders, including those marketers who search for influencers, may not be aware of what their company values actually are.
One problem is that although values are easy to write down, they are somewhat harder to put into practice and live by. Company values usually come at a cost. As Patrick M. Lencioni claims in the Harvard Business Review’s Make Your Values Mean Something, “If you’re not willing to accept the pain real values incur, don’t bother going to the trouble of formulating a values statement”.
Company Value Types
Lencioni splits company values into four types:
- Core values which guide all of a company’s actions and serve as cultural cornerstones
- Aspirational values, which are values that a company needs if it is to succeed in the future, but which it currently lacks
- Permission-to-pay values, which are the minimum behavioural and social standards expected of any employee
- Accidental values, which arise spontaneously over time, without any particular planning or intent
Your Core Company Values
Some companies do struggle with aspirational values as these may conflict with their core values. This can cause major internal soul searching. Does a company change its core values so that their aspirational values can occur?
In terms of influencer marketing, should a company choose to work with edgier influencers, who don’t really reflect the current company values, simply to widen the potential customer base for their product? This can be an extremely risky act and can alienate an existing client base.
Successful companies tend to weave their core values into everything. That obviously includes their marketing campaigns, and the influencer marketers they choose to work with. They may not actually “employ” influencer marketers in the traditional sense, but often they expect influencer marketers to follow the same permission-to-pay values as their paid employees.
Things A Company Should Consider When Selecting influencers
If you are looking for influencers there are some questions you need to answer.
1. Who is Your Target Customer?
Undoubtedly, you’ll have a good idea of who your target customer is. But if you haven’t already done so, consider drawing up an avatar and a persona describing your perfect customer. As part of your description, include what their key values are. These should, of course, approximately match your company values.
2. Where Does Your Target Audience Hang Out on Social Media?
One of the first things that a company should look at is the channel on which an influencer operates. Not everybody uses the same social media channels. Facebook, for instance, may be very popular, but there are better choices for certain demographics.
If you target edgier teenagers, for instance, you would probably be better looking for influencers who operate on YouTube or Instagram. Facebook lost a lot of its appeal to many teenagers once their parents migrated there and started to follow them.
3. Who are the Relevant Influencers on Those Channels?
This is where our influencer agency, PMYB can help you. PMYB has an enormous network of effective influencers that you can use in your campaigns. There are many influencers in virtually every niche, operating on the key social media channels. Obviously, it will be easier to find suitable influencers if you go to the channel where your target audience spends most of their time consuming content.
4. Do These Influencers Match Your Company Values?
Assuming that you have correctly targeted your customers and their social networks, it is probable that any influencers will share at least a reasonable correlation with your company values. It is very important to do our due diligence before choosing to collaborate with any influencer. This includes a deep search of their previous posts or videos, as well as a simple Google search.
One of the advantages of using an agency like PMYB is that you have access to an exclusive group of pre-vetted influencers. They won’t all be suitable for you, but we provide an easy way for you to discover those that best match your company values. Get in touch with our team here if you would like more information about how we deliver our influencer campaigns.