Brands and agencies are facing increasing challenges working with influencers internationally. When the expertise you need is across borders, how can you get access to the right creative talent and navigate a financial and regulatory minefield?
If your latest campaign needs creative insight from Rajasthan, then photos from the streets of Romiley probably won’t cut it.
If you need to find the hottest beach outside of San Francisco, then an influencer from Slough probably isn’t your best bet.
With campaign ideas like the above you’ve entered the world of the international influencer and more brands and agencies are finding themselves in exactly this type of situation.
This is particularly true for global brands with centralised marketing functions. Whilst your headquarters might be in Bath, you could need to find a way to communicate with consumers in Bangalore, Berlin and Toronto.
Working with influencers remains a highly engaging way to get your message across to your audience, but now not only do you need to find, manage and report on your influencers, you’ve got to do it across borders.
As more and more brands are finding, this presents a whole range of new challenges. In our work with international marketing departments we’ve helped multiple businesses to navigate those challenges, so let’s step through the common issues and pitfalls brands encounter when their influencer marketing goes international.
If discovering new influencers is one of influencer marketing’s most challenging tasks, then working internationally presents further complications to overcome.
Discovery means not just finding the right influencer who matches your brand, campaign and target audience but finding one who is also highly engaged with their audience, interested in your brand and available at the right time. This can all be complicated by language barriers, time zones and differing approaches to influencer marketing in different geographies and industries.
Getting international discovery right means you’re probably putting even more leg work into what can already be a time-sapping task.
And all of this comes before you’ve even started briefing on content creation!
There are multiple regulatory complications involved with hiring international influencers, impacting almost every part of the process.
Firstly, once you’ve found your influencer of choice, you’re going to need to enter into an agreement which may have terms that may need to be different depending on where the influencer is based. If you ever needed to enforce some of the terms of the contract it’s worth considering how practical this would be. If the contract states it falls under English law, for example, but your influencer is based in Japan, is there ever really going to be any hope of applying the terms rigidly?
There’s then also the regulation of the marketing to consider. In the UK you’re probably already familiar with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), which enforces the Committee of Advertising Practice codes (CAP codes, for short). In countries around the world, this system is entirely different. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sets and governs the standards for advertising. In France, where advertising to minors is very strictly regulated, the industry self-regulates through the ARPP Codes.
You can see how all of this can get very complicated, very quickly! You’ll need to make sure that your international influencers are aware of the rules not just in their own country, but in any country where their creations are going to be used.
As the influencer marketing ecosystem continues to develop, influencer expectations and their approach to doing business has changed. These changes are different in each international territory, which creates another challenge for businesses dealing in multiple territories.
Influencer relationships with unions, for example, are evolving differently in different territories. In the UK there are various fledgling unions, all at, more or less, a start-up stage. These may begin to have an increasing impact on the domestic market over the next few years.
Contrast this to the US and you’ll see how quickly things can change. US influencers, as well as seeking more specific unions, have begun to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which traditionally represents TV and radio talent. SAG’s rules and benefits are well established and robust (the union is the biggest in the US’ sizeable creative industry), which means agencies and brands working with SAG-member influencers are likely to find more conditions to comply with.
As the influencer marketplace continues to grow and mature, similar situations will crop up globally, meaning brands not only need to make sure they have a ‘business as usual’ for how they work with influencers, but also comply with the influencer's own version of this.
Where your influencers are based could significantly impact the commercials around your influencer marketing, in multiple ways. Firstly, there’s currency to consider. Solutions like Paypal, Wise, Monzo, Revolut etc. have made international exchange easy for all of us, but just bear in mind that the commercial terms of such services can make them unattractive for influencers. A US-based influencer, invoicing a UK-based company £1,000, would pay almost $100 in various Paypal fees, for example.
Local taxation can also come into play. UK VAT, for example, is only charged on services if the place of supply for the service is the UK itself. For agencies, hiring influencers and then charging brands for the overall service, this can create an added layer of complication where the influencer is not UK-based. Depending on how the agency charges, this may create an invoice line item, which doesn’t need VAT. The agency though, in this example, would need to look closely at the influencer’s terms of business and whether any tax is due on their purchase of services. Certain US states, for example, charge a sales tax on the sale of services, as well as goods.
It’s likely that, when you started working with influencers, you created a process. If you want to work with international influencers then you’re going to need either a separate process or another process entirely.
As you can see, there are multiple additional steps that you’ll need to cover with your international influencers and each territory you work within will see these steps change in various ways.
Creating your international influencer process - or your ‘business as usual’, for international influencers - means that you’ll be ready to go when these situations occur. Having your international agreement ready and knowing how you’ll pay international influencers, for example, will speed up the process and get you towards a successful campaign sooner, rather than later.
Influencer Marketing, Martech and Marketplace expert
Robust debate, constructive challenge, and a relentless pursuit of growth, improvement and efficiency enable Alec to cut to the core of the issue. Alec currently holds executive directorships at Influence Network an AI-driven influencer tech platform and equitable, The Private Equity Portfolio Talent Network, alongside non-executive and advisory roles at a number of marketing, ad tech and technology startups.
Executive experience in:
- Advertising, marketing, media, PR agencies - both independent and Big 5 agency networks in the UK, UAE (Dubai) and globally.
- Sales & Marketing strategy, planning and delivery
- Start Up and Scale Up with 400% YonY Growth
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© 2023 Influence Network.
Registered in England and Wales: 10815710
20-22 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7GU