As influencers grow in popularity in the marketing world, ensuring that their content meets the brand's standards before publication has become increasingly crucial. The process involves thorough checking to eliminate errors and identify any content that may be offensive or inappropriate.
But managing content collaboration can become challenging and time-consuming, often resulting in long email threads and constant back and forth on other communication channels. Efficient approval management is essential — be it D2C companies, agencies, and other businesses — to make the influencer content effective and aligned with their brand image.
An automated process integrated within the influencer marketing platform can resolve the issue— letting you create meaningful content to connect with different audiences. To understand more, we spoke to marketing leaders from different agencies about how they handle the content approval process and the importance of efficient content collaboration.
"Content approval is essential for influencer marketing campaigns with so much at stake for brands and agencies, ensuring that content aligns with brand guidelines and meets quality standards is critical," says Margaret Pattillo, Founder, MZP Digital, the USA-based marketing agency.
Pattillo shares a cautionary tale of a potential mishap that was averted thanks to the content approval process. "One of the influencers we worked with inadvertently tagged the wrong brand in their post, which would have driven all the expected engagement to the wrong profile. Since we had a content approval process in place, we were able to catch the error before the post was published and work with the influencer to make the necessary corrections," says Pattillo.
Like Pattillo, many brand executives and digital marketing agencies recognize the importance of pre-screening influencer content to safeguard their brand's reputation. Nisarg Shah, CEO, affable.ai - an influencer marketing platform, opines, "Influencer-generated content is typically a result of a lot of back-n-forth between the influencer and the brand marketers. This collaboration is important as it ensures the right balance between influencer creativity and brand safety."
Ensuring content aligns with the brand's messaging helps maintain brand consistency and values. Particularly significant for brands and agencies, as influencer marketing can significantly impact a brand's image and reputation.
"By giving influencers free reign over their content without proper review and approval, brands run the risk of having their messaging misrepresented, their brand guidelines violated, and their reputation tarnished," opines Kalista Bassett, Director of Influencer Marketing, Konnect Agency, the USA-based PR and digital marketing agency.
Supporting Bassett's view, Sinoun Chea, CEO and Founder, ShiftWeb, the USA-based Internet marketing and website management, shares examples of Airbnb. "Airbnb recently ran an influencer campaign requiring all influencers to submit their content to them for approval before it was posted. It allowed Airbnb to ensure that the content distributed by its influencers adhered to its brand guidelines and messaging, allowing them to maintain a consistent presence across all channels."
Experts look at the content approval process not from the standpoint of policing influencers and their creative thought processes.
"Every good marketer starts with customer research, then develops a messaging framework to communicate their value. When influencers create content, they don't benefit from the deep customer understanding and product positioning the brand has worked so hard to build. Requiring content approval from influencers isn't about policing," says Anne Hunter, Founder, Hunter Marketing, NewYork-based digital marketing agency.
Some experts, however, take a firm stand stating that by giving influencers free reign over their content without proper review and approval, brands risk having their messaging misrepresented, their brand guidelines violated, and their reputation tarnished.
But how influencers add a human voice to a marketing campaign must also be considered. "While brands don't have to hand over total control, if they go the other way, keeping the reins too tight, influencer content will likely fall flat with their followers at best or seem actively false or misleading at worst. Influencers have influence because their followers trust them as people, not marketing machines," says Holly Morran, Marketing & Social Media Manager, CORQ, a journalist-led influencer marketing news and intelligence platform.
Marketing experts look at resolving the dilemma of content approval by establishing an internal content checklist following legal guidelines. "While content can be created and amplified through influencer marketing, the final authority for all campaigns should be at the senior executive level so that they can review them based on established policies," says Matt Hanses, Founder and CEO, Uplift Marketing, the USA-based full-service digital marketing agency.
Following legal guidelines issued by the state governing legal bodies is equally an important part of it. Potential legal issues can be sidelined if the brand could see that sponsored content follows all the FTC guidelines, believes Chea.
Jamie Taylor, Founder Taylored Media Group, affirms it, saying, "Making sure the content is compliant to Advertising Laws is extremely vital, especially in specialty categories like children's products, cannabis, alcohol, real estate and more. To avoid any penalties with social accounts or violating any state/federal ad guidelines, it's important to have a pre-approval process for influencers before their content goes live."
But content approval is all the way important to stick to the deadline. "I have found that when content approval is not mandatory, deadlines are often missed, and you end up chasing influencers around to get them to post. I ran a launch campaign for a brand called RUNI, content approval was not mandatory, and nearly every single piece of content for the campaign was posted late. After that experience, I always make sure content is approved ahead of time. This way, you can ensure it is completed and ready to be posted on the correct date," says Sarah Dowds, Senior Influencer and Affiliate Manager, Versa Marketing Inc.
affable.ai’s Content Approval feature helps brands streamline the collaboration with influencers to shorten the time and effort it takes for the influencer content to be finalized.
"Brands can send a unique and secure link to all their influencers to start accepting content drafts. After reviewing the drafts, brands can share comments or approve the content in one place. Influencers get notified about feedback, and the revised content is shared with brands in the same portal. Marketers can track all the content approval statuses in one place and seamlessly follow up with influencers with pending comments," says Shah.
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