One, I do think that and I've talked about it before that captions have gotten really lazy. I think that influencers have gotten really good at storytelling through imagery and really, really bad about storytelling through their captions.
If you're working on a sponsored post from a brand and it is a product that you normally wouldn't talk about, so let's say you're a beauty influencer and you're going to talk about a credit card or you're a fashion influencer and you're going to talk about beauty for the first time, I think your audience expects you to explain why the fuck you're talking to them about this.
I think you have to give them context and help them understand why it is you're talking to them about this, you have to tell a story so that you can humanize it and get an emotional connection because especially when you talk about something that is outside of the normal sphere of things that you talk about, your influence doesn't follow you to that thing.
If I trust you to tell me what foundation to wear, I don't trust you to tell me what credit card I should be using. I don't necessarily trust you to tell me what restaurant I should go to in LA, and I don't necessarily trust you to tell me what deodorant you wear.
It doesn't mean that I can't trust you on those things, I definitely can, I think you have to work harder, and I think you have to tell a story about why this is important to you.
That is one thing of just thinking about is this something I'd normally talk about? If not, make sure you're weaving it into a bigger story. For a lot of influencers, the story is just that they really love the product, and that's totally fine. I love my deodorant. I take Adderall because I'm all over the fucking place and I'm one of those people that Adderall makes me sweat randomly sometimes, not every day I take it, but sometimes, and so I use Dri, what's it called? It's like D-R-I something.
It's this over-the-counter but prescription strength deodorant. I fucking love this stuff. I would tell somebody that if you take Adderall and it makes you sweat, use this stuff. I've tried 10 deodorants, this one works really well. That's an authentic real story, but I need to give the context and say that, "I take Adderall, it made me sweat. I searched for a deodorant that worked and couldn't find any until this one." Without that story, I'm just a dude who usually talks about cycling, and influencers, and takes pictures of New York, and all of a sudden, I'm saying, "Use this deodorant," and you're like, "What the fuck are you talking about?
Why should I pay attention to that?" You need to tell a story in that case, but also, sometimes the story can just be like, "I love this thing." I think what a lot of influencers miss out on is if that's your story, if you're working and partnering with a brand and your story is that you love that product, and as a follower, I only see that product two or three times, then instantly I'm like, "You're a liar. I don't believe you" because if you really love something, then you talk about it all the time or at least you see it all the time. We'll put up a little graphic here of how I think storytelling could be taken care of better with influencers' posts.
Basically, what I'm talking about is in post one, you introduce the partnership, say why you're doing it, tell a story, create some context. If it is something like a skin care, if it's something that you're testing out and you know you're going to use for a while, setting that up and saying, "I'm super excited to partner and I've always wanted to try this," whatever it might be, and then you want to, over the next two or three weeks or whatever, however long the campaign is, in your stories, you want to pretty consistently mention it or at least have it shown.
This is something that Erica Fox from Retro Flame does really well is that she will, before a sponsored post, in her stories, you'll start to see a product show up, and she doesn't tag it or anything, so then when she does the post, she'll be like, "Hey, I don't know if you all have noticed in my stories that I've been using this thing. I'm super excited to partner with them," but then throughout the time the campaign is happening, you just see it fairly often. Again, not always tagged, sometimes tagged, it starts to legitimize and lend authenticity to that story that she really likes this product.
She actually loves it, she is using it and if she's not tagging the brand, I'm also feeling like she's using it and not being paid in that post. She's not even tagging the brand, so the brand is not even going to see that. She's just doing it because she likes it. For me, it lends so much authenticity to things that she's doing, and then you follow it up at the end with another post that closes things out for the time being. Again, if it is something where you're like, "I've used this for the last two weeks, it's been amazing".
If you're me and it's deodorant, let's say, and you're like, "I've never used this" and it's like, "I used this for the last two weeks, it was incredible. Absolutely the best thing I've ever used, blah, blah blah. It cut down on my Adderall sweats," whatever. How we started talking about the Adderall sweats in the show, I don't know, but it's an unscripted show and sometimes we go off the rails.
Even if you are not being paid to do that, even if you're not being paid to consistently cover and talk about the brand in between the two posts that you're going to do or even if you're not paid for a second post, I think for the longevity of your accounts as an influencer, I do think you need to think about covering and talking about the brand more. If the story you're telling is, "I love this product, it's really, really great" because I don't think you can tell that story and only have the product shot once or twice and think that you're fooling your audience.
They know what you're doing which is either you're just being lazy with your writing and you don't have anything else to say about the product so you're saying, "I love it" and/or then I think you don't actually love the product, you're just being paid for it. Stories can help you avoid that. There are other things to say about a product other than, "I love it," and you can tell those things in an authentic way that people believe, but just take some time and be really, again, be explicit about it before you do a post. Maybe write down a couple of concepts and send it to the brand and say, "Here's three concepts I was thinking about, which one do you prefer?"
That stuff doesn't happen much with influencers and I promise you if you do it, you're going to look great, they're going to keep coming back for you, they're going to keep wanting to work with you, and you will say, " James was right," and I am.
- The Importance of Stories and Storytelling