What Makes a Great Influencer Post?

It all starts with a great story first and foremost--a story written genuinely from the influencer’s perspective, not spoon-fed from the brand.

There is a science to creating a great influencer marketing post.

It all starts with a great story first and foremost–a story written genuinely from the influencer’s perspective, not spoon-fed from the brand: That story has to be something the influencer dreams up, not something you manufacture for them. It’s perfectly fine to give them a theme so that you have some cohesiveness to your influencer campaign, but the last thing you want is 50 influencers out there creating practically identical content for you.

You build credibility and trust for your brand or product through multiple stories told from different angles. It showcases exactly how great your brand is and how well the brand or product fits into so many lives.

Always include a clear and conspicuous disclosure at the top: In compliance with Federal Trade Commission requirements, each post must begin with a tactful disclosure, ensuring that the influencers maintain their credibility.

It should be placed at the top of the post so that the reader knows from the onset of starting to read the piece that the post is sponsored content. The disclosure can include the campaign hashtags, as well.

The FTC is cracking down on nondisclosures, so it’s important to be diligent and make sure every post is clearly designated as sponsored or risk large fines.

But don’t worry about disclosures keeping the readers from engaging with the content. As long as the content is valuable, useful or entertaining audiences don’t care if it’s sponsored. In fact, millennials–a very hard-to-reach target–not only don’t care, but according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015, 20 percent said it had a positive effect on their view of the brand.

It starts with a terrific headline: Influencers get to know their audiences and the content they want. They also learn over time what words resonate and get the most click-throughs.

No, we’re not talking about clickbait. We would never prescribe for that. We are talking about keywords that not only drive search-engine optimization, but also push the reader’s happy buttons. Words like “easy, simple, lessons I learned, tips and family favorites” come to mind.

And don’t push the influencer to shove the campaign title or brand name into the headline. Remember: You’re trying to leverage an influencer’s authenticity, not turn them into a blatant shill for your brand.

Brand names, trademarks and naming conventions aren’t for influencer posts: Yes, we understand the need to protect a brand’s mark and trademarks, but insisting that the full name of a long product name be used every time the product is mentioned is overkill. In addition, it makes the post very stilted and less conversational. When reading really great posts, readers should almost be able to imagine the voice of the writer and what she or he is like.

Never dictate copy for insertion into content: There are elements of a sponsored social media post that an advertiser can exercise control over, and there are elements that must be kept strictly in the influencer’s authentic voice.

Think of it in “subjective” and “objective” terms. Objective terms are considered to be anything factual about the product, including ingredients, claims, etc. Subjective terms are the influencer’s opinion based on his or her experience with the brand or product.

The influencer should have the license to reword the objective materials, but never to the point where it misleads any audience with unsubstantiated claims. A toothpaste might have claims of whitening, for example, but if an influencer discovers that it also whitens tennis shoes, this is not considered truth in advertising and is out of the bounds of an influencer’s sponsored content, unless the advertiser can prove that the toothpaste whitens shoes.