By: Kelsea Bruce, Social Media Director

Influencer marketing continues to grow, with brands investing more and more in influencer partnerships each day. Through these partnerships, brands and their agency partners can select brand-aligned influencers to market products and services to loyal followings with targeted demographics. They give word-of-mouth validation and often lead to engagement and follower spikes on brands’ social pages. Influencer marketing is a two-sided business, with many influencers becoming equally selective as brands when it comes to vetting if a partnership is right for them and, more importantly, their audience. These influencers take their personal brand seriously and like brands, are working to further grow and develop their digital community.

To get a better understanding of the influencer side of the business, I interviewed two of my favorite influencers, @laurenmagenta and @feedmedearly.

Here is what they had to say:

How did you get your start as influencer and how did you decide on an industry focus?

@laurenmagenta: I was working full-time at Martha Stewart right out of college. In my spare time, I was cooking up fun recipes on the weekend and posting them on my Instagram. I had a cooking show in college and was writing a weekly recipe for the newspaper, so food was always my thing. At the same time, a few brands reached out and said they liked my style of photography. Perfect timing really! Very quickly I began posting food only content for myself and brands. I believe that since I dedicated my feed to food only I started to organically grow my audience who also enjoyed recipes, and together over the last 5 years we have been enjoying food and lifestyle content together.

@feedmedearly: I started my blog in 2013, partially as a creative outlet, and partially as a way to get in front of food brands. At the time I was working full time in branding and had just started my own brand strategy agency, Hub & Spoke Branding. I wanted more food client exposure and I felt that it would be useful to become a food industry insider.

Food was a natural choice because I’m a passionate cook and wanted to interact with people who shared my same passion.

How has your life changed since becoming an influencer?

@laurenmagenta: My personal life has not changed much but my professional life is developing like crazy. For me, since I am a video producer and recipe developer by trade, I have an incredible opportunity to connect with brands in a bigger way and help bring their product to life on camera.

@feedmedearly: I love the flexibility offered by this career path. I can work from anywhere, on my own schedule, which is really important given that I have kids. I also love the opportunities that come my way – food-based travel, restaurant experiences, the chance to work with cooking and food brands that I admire. Every day is different and exciting

What’s been your biggest challenge as an influencer?

@laurenmagenta: My biggest challenge as an influencer is making sure that my creative ideas are in line with my partners. I grew my Instagram audience on developing recipes and producing food videos. I want to make sure that as I develop as a producer that I keep the audience in mind and know that I am giving them what they want so we can grow together!

@feedmedearly: Setting prices that are commensurate with my experience and value add. It is easier to do with larger brands but sometimes harder with smaller brands who don’t have the budget to pay for my work. Although many of us start out in this world by doing free work to gain exposure, after nearly five years in the industry, I can’t justify work-for-product or low-priced work. Unfortunately, this is requested of me more than I’d like to admit.

What’s most important to you when pursuing brand partnerships?

@laurenmagenta: With each brand I work with I ask myself if the partnership is organic. Do I, Lauren Magenta, like the brand and do I think it would be neat to partner with them? If I am passionate about the project I know that my enthusiasm will shine through and I will be able to produce fun engaging videos for my audience.

 

@feedmedearly: The brands MUST share my same values – Products (quality, craftsmanship, a dedication to producing beautiful and creative dishes); Food (organic or local, high quality ingredients, free of nasties— preservatives etc.).

Furthermore brands must be appreciative and/or engage with the content. I’ve worked with a number of brands that are unresponsive, hard to communicate with, don’t react to the content by liking and/or commenting. It’s important to understand that many of us don’t just do this work for money. In many cases, my relationship with the brand (and/or agencies of the brand) are just as important as the dollar value on the check.

 

What the biggest opportunity for you as an influencer?

@laurenmagenta: My biggest opportunity is aligning my influencer world with my professional world. I am able to provide a full service on video production and content creation which in the long run has great potential.

@feedmedearly: I’m trying to move the brand/influencer relationship into a more committed relationship so that I’m working with fewer brands, but in a deeper, more engaged way. I think this benefits both the brand and the influencer. I see so many one-off campaigns on blogs and on Instagram and while it creates a short bump in visibility for the brand, it’s my impression that it wears off quickly.  A longer-tail approach gives an audience time to absorb the relationship. I’ve noticed that through my own repetitive campaigns, my audience can now associate my content with certain brands which is the truest and most meaningful form of brand ambassadorship.

When pursuing your next influencer partnership, keep in mind how the relationship will affect both your brand and the influencer’s brand. This will help lead to more long-term, genuine partnerships.