How to work with influencers in 2024 - insider tips by a social media expert

Over the last decade, how brands have approached working with influencers has dramatically evolved from tentative experimentation to becoming an integral part of their marketing budget and strategy.

Forty per cent of marketers are planning on implementing influencer marketing into their plans for 2024 according to the State of Social Media report from Meltwater. The digital sphere has seen the arrival of new audiences and platforms shaking up the arena - Gen Z, the biggest consumer of video content has significantly contributed to the growth of TikTok with 78% of teens using it in 2023, according to Sprout Social.

Whether you’re a new business at the start of your influencer marketing outreach journey, or a seasoned expert, Irina Tatarinova, Social Media Lead at the online gifting marketplace, Flowwow, shares her advice on how to avoid rookie mistakes and which trends to look out for. 

Identifying influencers

You likely already have a checklist that covers reach, engagement, and shared values. Understanding your target demographic can help you focus on a particular platform – for example, according to a Forbes report, more than 60% of Instagram users are between 18 and 34, while the average Facebook user is often older. Although Gen Z famously dominates TikTok, be mindful that their predecessors will continue to join the app in 2024.

Although it may be a priority to work with creators with large followings, micro-influencers (10,000–50,000 followers) are renowned for having high engagement and a loyal audience – don’t overlook them! Usually, it's easy to identify if an influencer has highly engaged content by checking their metrics such as likes and comments. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of an account, there are a variety of research tools for varying budgets. Bloggingwizard have a great article on this: 6 Best Influencer Marketing Research Tools For 2024.

A new market – a new approach

When conducting the all-important outreach, we have found differences from market to market. The UK was an early adopter of the influencer industry which has in turn led to very high-quality content being produced. As a result this usually comes with a higher price point – 5 times more than the UAE where the industry is experiencing significant growth.

With more formal systems in place, we have seen that contacting UK creators through an agency or a business acquaintance who can make the introduction has yielded better engagement. A cold email doesn’t elicit many successful responses – particularly if you’re a new company or it's your first interaction. In contrast, we have found it to be easier to reach out directly to influencers in the UAE and Spain (who are hugely collaborative – whether it’s directly through their account or PR content. With fewer formal processes in place, the conversation is a little more laid back.

With influencer marketing continuing to emerge in the Emirates,  processes are still being established and there's a noticeable lack of audience warm-up techniques. We’ve seen many blogs that serve as showcases for various collaborations, where almost every post and story is sales-oriented. Bloggers often promote the hundreds of brands that they’ve worked with, but for us, we’re looking for more personalisation to ensure our brand stands out among the series of advertising collaborations. Therefore, in the UAE, we have to put in a lot of effort to find influencers who engage their audience in their blog the way we would like. 

At the same time, I want to note that the Emirates is a very welcoming market with fairly democratic prices and a small number of refusals. Bloggers are open to various forms of collaboration and easily go beyond the agreement if they like the product: in addition to the agreed-upon stories, they can add reels and posts. For the UK, this is almost an unimaginable scenario: if you've agreed to three stories, there won't be a fourth. In the UAE, they readily share statistics, but sometimes they may resort to Photoshop, so you need to be attentive in search of authentic influencers.

Clear communication and the power of personal touches

Influencers have no obligation to share content unless it’s pre-agreed and within a contract. Ensuring clear communication channels from the start helps prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings that could have a negative impact on your brand image. For example regulations vary from country to country – just because you gift a product doesn’t equate to a post.

For example, we will establish a genuine connection with an influencer through multiple introductions to the brand – as well as gifting them a bouquet, we will offer them a discount to use the Flowwow website to experience the process for themselves. If you have conducted the outreach with a human touch and aligned your product with the right creator, it’s likely that they will share your product on their channels. Remember, whether you pursue a paid post or the influencer creates native content – avoid being overly prescriptive in your brief to the creator – not only do they know what their audiences would like to see, but it cultivates a trusting relationship between you and the influencer.

The AI Effect

The hot topic. Just how might AI affect influencer marketing? From a brand perspective leveraging AI tools can help identify potential collaborators and provide essential data to help aid the decision-making process to ensure they’re working with the most relevant people for their product or campaign. With advancing AI tools creating viral content it seems that many creators are seeing this as a positive opportunity too – with 71% of influencers regard AI as an opportunity for growth and success, according to The Drum.

Authentic content

There’s been a shift over the past five years, where immaculate, highly curated images and videos are replaced with more honest depictions – influencers are connecting more deeply with their audiences by being authentic. Transparency matters particularly for Gen Z, it's key to align your brand with an influencer who shares your values. Trust is key, being open and genuine also extends to paid partnerships, a well-thought-out collaboration will have a much more positive impact than trying to deceive consumers. 

Don’t forget to understand what format of content your target demographic typically prefers to consume – short-form video or a combination of visuals and text

Think long-term

There are many different ways to collaborate, but more and more, influencers with larger followings are taking on ambassador-style roles. While it can be an expensive route, this is a great way to nurture your brand/influencer relationship and create a meaningful story.

However, even if your budget is smaller and doesn’t extend to campaign endorsements, thinking long-term is still essential to building your influencer relations. Make sure to include creators in your comms just like you would press to keep them fully updated on your activity – whether it's an invitation to a press event or a gifting opportunity.