Freddy Adu, the unlikely social influencer, shows how it’s done

December 22, 2015
By Rich

Poor Freddy Adu. The American football player (a football player who’s American, not the other one) has something of a cult status with football fans that used to delve into the Championship Manager games a few years back.

Freddy Adu was one of the original wonder kids, a young player you could buy on the cheap. With the right guidance he could develop into a Messi or a Ronaldo, adding millions onto his value.

His real career path didn’t exactly mirror the possibilities afforded in-game, though. After some ill-fated spells in Europe and even time in Serbia the 26-year-old attacker has been labelled as a journeyman, and is currently trying to rebuild his career back home with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Why tell you this? Because Freddy was lampooned last month for endorsing a vacuum cleaner on Twitter.

Boo-boys across the world desperate to point out to Adu how far he had fallen and how bad the picture looks. Only, Freddy will have the last laugh here, as will Hoover USA.

An influencer marketing strategy could make all the difference to your brand's reach. Attract the right audience by working with influential individuals in your industry. To learn more, read our blog 'How can influencer marketing help to grow your business?'

This is a great example of native influencer marketing on social media; targeting an American market with someone who, despite his troubles, still commands attention. People are talking about Freddy and his new Hoover and sharing the message socially. Hoover USA gets exposure and association with a well-known sports star and Adu gets a potential six-figure sum for posting a picture of himself vacuuming on Twitter.

If we had to level any criticism at the partnership it’s, is Hoover USA targeting the right market with young male sports fans? Only they will know, and they’ll easily have had a pick of a huge number of social influencers and vloggers to choose from, so why not Adu? And one of the easiest things to overlook is one of the campaign’s most impressive; that they’ve bothered to point out it’s a sponsored ad.

Why impressive? Because so many companies are desperate to make their ads look as natural and organic as possible to the extent that they actively won’t declare sponsorship. That’s changing, though, and Freddy and Hoover’s decision to let people know they advertising together is a very responsible and respectable one.

One very serious issue that’s cropped up is brands producing native content with influencers – especially vloggers – in an effort to mislead. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over in the United States has received a number of complaints about big brands for what people see as deceptive native content from junk food manufacturers on the YouTube Kids app. The FTC has also updated its guidelines about social media disclosure if marketers work with influencers. Over here the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (Cap) have also hit out at brands (especially Modelēz’s Oreo biscuits) for not disclosing deceptive native ads when working with influencers.

"A key rule under the Cap code is that if the content is controlled by the marketer, not the vlogger, and is written in exchange for payment (which could be a monetary payment or free items) then it is an advertisement feature and must be labelled as such,"

says the new Cap guidelines.

User trust is such a critical thing when it comes to influencer marketing and producing native content with celebrities or popular content creators, so hopefully these tighter guidelines will make a difference in reigning in brands before we all end up eating Soylent Green.

We’ve written before about native advertising and how it works and, most importantly, how you can use it to help grow your business. Pairing with the right influencer is essentially the same idea, only that you’re also getting an endorsement and recognisable face thrown into the mix. And there are many more options for you to pair with an influencer than ever before instead of going down the traditional media route of paying huge amounts for a well-known face or scraping the bottom of the Z-list barrel.

Of course, if you want to go extremely high-end to get noticed you can fork out approximately £200,000 to pair up with the likes of Selena Gomez and Cara Delevigne. But you don’t have to pay anywhere near that much to pair with a successful influencer – whether on YouTube, social media, or as part of a native campaign – if you do your homework and strategise properly.

A lot of rising YouTube content creators, for example, with a decent userbase and rising viewing figures are (apparently) happy enough to do reviews of branded clothing if they can keep the merchandise that’s been sent to them as part of the commercial relationship.

The possibilities for building strong social relationships with influencers in native ways are endless, so long as you both think about the audience you’re speaking to and the message you want to convey to them. It can be an outstanding growth opportunity, especially if you plan ahead and consider creative ways to get the people that view your content back to your site and devise ways to keep them there to become long-term customers.

But the key word here is strategy. Research your markets and find out what they’re watching on YouTube, who they’re following on social media, and other demographical data that can narrow down which influencer to approach. Whatever opportunity you discover, it can help get your brand straight into your audience’s consciousness, and instantly make you more appealing to the people you want to impress.

An influencer marketing strategy could make all the difference to your brand's reach. Attract the right audience by working with influential individuals in your industry. To learn more, read our blog 'How can influencer marketing help to grow your business?'

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