Social media has changed a great deal over the years. What used to be a way to connect with friends and family has evolved into a potent marketing tool and created a new form of celebrity. Whether it is on Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, companies look to popular online personas to endorse their products to their thousands, sometimes millions, of followers. However, these popular online influencers, like Logan Paul and PewDiePie, are susceptible to controversy. Partnering with online influencers can be beneficial but risky; in-depth research and continuous monitoring can help prevent potential threats to brand partners.
Logan Paul, who boasts over 15 million subscribers on YouTube, was recently the face of controversy over his behavior while visiting Japan. Logan Paul took his entourage into the famous Aokigahara “suicide forest” near Mount Fuji. This is where he filmed what appeared to be a man who had recently hung himself. While most would call for help, Paul got closer to the body and filmed his own reaction which was at first stunned, but quickly turned to amusement. Quickly, people mobbed online to condemn Paul for his actions. While Logan Paul issued two apologies in wake of the public outcry, YouTube kicked Paul off of their Google Preferred platform and suspended ads altogether for two weeks.
Another popular YouTuber, PewDiePie, was in hot water last year when he made a vlog with jokes about Anti-Semitism. Unlike Paul, PewDiePie was not apologetic to his 60 million subscribers for his “joking remarks”. The YouTuber was partnered with Disney and was dropped by the company after the incident. Undoubtedly, initial research efforts by the company uncovered the personality’s frequent use of controversial humor in his online content. Every partnership comes with some risk, and while these are sometimes deemed worth the benefit, it is critical to be prepared to sever ties when necessary.
Cases like the ones above involving Logan Paul and PewDiePie highlight that a significant number of followers does not always indicate the best choice of brand ambassador. Before engaging a potential partner, research is crucial. Initial research can turn up a score of potential partners, and follow-up research on potential partners will identify risks or conflicts of interest and assess alignment with brand values and core beliefs. In doing this research, it is important to understand not only the influencer but the audience they attract as well. If the demographics of their audience do not align with a brand’s target, then the influencer may not be a good fit. Just about any partnership comes with risks and appropriate research empowers brand teams to make informed decisions, weighing risks with anticipated benefits.
Once a partnership is begun, it is imperative to continuously monitor their activity and profile. Smart brands keep in mind the above examples and monitor not just sponsored activity, but all of a partner’s social, offline activity, and the discussion of them by others online or in the news. The primary goal of this is to detect potential risks and act as quickly as possible when necessary. In addition, it is important to monitor the key performance indications, typically engagement metrics, surrounding sponsored and unsponsored content to ensure the partnership is still worth the investment. This should also include regular validations that the partner’s core values and audience demographics have not shifted. Proactively monitoring and assessing the value in an ongoing process should be standard in any social media partnership endeavor.
Just like your favorite TV shows or the newest fads; all good things come to an end. It is good to keep in mind that this holds true for social media influencers as well. Culture moves fast on social media and it can be difficult for online personalities to stand the test of the time. It is critical to proactively plan for the end of any relationship, whether it be due to a misstep or simply a shift in their performance. Brands must be flexible and adaptive; when it’s time to cut the cord with a partner, do.
Partnering with an online influencer is an increasingly commonplace strategy in the tool belt of savvy marketers, but it does not come without risks. Working with a trusted team to conduct research and continuous monitoring the social presense of brand partners can help reduce this potential risk and empower teams to plan proactively and maximize return on investment.
To learn more about Anexinet’s wealth of experience and portfolio of services that can support social media influencer identification, research, and continuous monitoring.
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