Yes, Brands Can Boycott Facebook — and Still Work with Influencers

Walmart, McDonald’s, Geico, and Disney are some of the latest brands to join the hundreds boycotting Facebook during the month of July — a boycott which could last for several months more. Some brands, while not publicly boycotting Facebook, are shifting their ad spend away from the major platform as well. 

Unfortunately, many influencers have become collateral damage in all of this as brands also pause their influencer campaigns out of an abundance of caution.

Now more than ever, influencers are dependent on revenue streams from brands utilizing social channels. They have been slammed by the coronavirus crisis, which led brands to slash their marketing budgets, and some influencers face the prospect of being out of business for good (like many in the travel industry). 

While you want to be safe, pausing your Influencer campaign altogether right now might not be the right move. Yes, even if you are boycotting Facebook, you can still work with Influencers.

In fact, brands need to work with influencers in order to maintain a social and online presence and remain top of mind for consumers. This is especially critical now as mobile and social media consumption is up and online shopping is increasing, while budgets are up in the air and the election year crowds the marketplace.

“If brands are serious about a Facebook and Instagram boycott, the alternatives are and should be working with Influencers and bloggers to double or triple down on sponsored content on their blogs, Twitter, and other platforms,” says influencer Kevin Paulson of HuntingLife.com

Data from GroupM’s INCA also supports this: 81% of consumers prefer being served content from influencers they trust and follow — up 9% from pre-Covid times. Additionally, INCA found that engagement in “#ad” posts increased by 76% in the first two weeks of March.

Don’t let Facebook deter you from unlocking the true value of influencers. Instead, here are some ways outside of Facebook to work with influencers.

Back to blogs (or vlogs)

Not all influencers are found on Facebook. There are millions of bloggers and vloggers with a dedicated and passionate following. Blogs are often underutilized in influencer campaigns, and these channels not only have impact and reach among micro-communities, but they also offer the type of brand-safe environment that Facebook cannot. They’re immune to Facebook algorithms that make exposure highly fleeting or risk putting your brand near unsavory content. This is a great option for brands looking for greater content control. 

Travel influencer Nathan Sado, co-owner of multiple websites including Fit Living Lifestyle, Live Dream Discover, Discover the PNW, and All About Glamping, reveals that influencers with websites and blogs are starting to get more offers from brands for article and content creation. 

“Our websites are where we get most collaborations with brands, and social media is further down the list,” Sado said. “Influencers who have authoritative websites and blogs can leverage that with brands to create content and push it out organically either through SEO articles, newsletters, or social channels.”

Let influencers be your advisors

What makes influencers so important to brands is their unique understanding of the communities they represent and engage with. This is of critical importance during this highly volatile time when brands cannot afford to get messaging wrong. Even so, we’ve noticed that influencers are still an untapped, underutilized source of insights.

Influencers are the community guides on the front lines, authentically connecting with consumers. They know what consumers are thinking, sharing, rejecting, and more. Therefore, they can serve as advisors and consultants to brands — whether it be around product planning or campaign development. And if you’re not sure where to start from the get-go, let the influencers tell you.

They are content creators — for your other channels, too

When we speak to influencers, we often hear they do not like using the term “influencer” to describe themselves. Instead, many prefer “content creator.” So, it makes sense to apply an influencer’s content creation across the board.

To echo Paulson’s comments above, brands need to start embracing their other channels as primary outlets for sponsored content. The content influencers produce for their own channels — long-form, images, videos, and more — can easily be transferred to one of a brand’s various platforms.

Brands that use influencer content on their own channels create an unexpected synergy in how the products and services are marketed. This provides an opportunity for brands to gain new audiences from the influencers with whom they work. This in turn can foster credibility and new brand loyalty, increase engagement, and even lead to sales.

Maximize your reach, even with a limited budget

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to put pressure on budgets, remember that influencer marketing is a cost-effective option. Even with relatively limited budgets, brands utilizing influencers can successfully increase reach and engagement within their businesses.

Sado points out that smaller brands are still pushing ads with Facebook, as they can’t afford to stop advertising. For smaller or more local brands, in particular, an influencer marketing strategy during this pandemic can be extremely beneficial. 

The same goes for micro-Influencers, who can work with smaller, local brands. While they may have more niche audiences (whether it be by geography or interest), they tend to have high audience trust and engagement rates, which will drive brand awareness and traffic to the brand.

Andres Echenique is CEO at Perlu.

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