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Working with Influencers: How to make adverts feel like a genuine recommendation

Working with Influencers: How to make adverts feel like a genuine recommendation

I’ll start off by saying I’m no expert in influencing. Yes, I’m an Influencer, but I’m still a small one and I’m still very much learning the ropes. But through making many mistakes I have learned a thing or two which I’ll be sharing with you here today.

Firstly, social media is not what it used to be 2 years plus ago. This time last year, although my account was smaller, I got more engagement, my audience would “like” my adverts just as much as they liked a regular post and I got a lot of work. Fast forward to right now and the Influencer market is saturated, audiences have grown weary of adverts, engagement is down on the whole Instagram platform and most businesses and creators are having to adjust accordingly.

This is not to say that the Influencers are a thing of the past. They are here to stay. Instagram is still a social media platform here to stay with over 1 billion monthly active users with 60% of these accessing the platform every day. Nearly half of digital users look for brands, products or inspiration on social media platforms.

Things have changed, so Influencers and brands working with Influencers must adapt accordingly. It’s a very fast-paced industry and my guess is that things will keep changing until the end of times. So try to keep on top of the news by, for example, setting up a Google News alert for “social media trends” or whatever is relevant in your sector.

The lesson here is that it’s harder nowadays to get you regular post to perform well, and even harder to get an advert to perform well. It’s more important than it has ever been for the content to be of really high quality. In a sea of Influencers, that’s how one can stand out, by producing really high quality content (as well as some other behind the scenes aspects which I will share with you another time!).

The reason why brands work with Influencers is primarily is to gain access to an already engaged target audience, an audience who will usually be interested in what the Influencer has to say like a friend’s recommendation. So generating organic, real interest from the audience in your product is the goal, which may generate a sale either now or in the future now that brand awareness has been created.

So here are my 5 top tips for creating Influencer adverts that influence without being too salesy, because nobody likes that.

  • Firstly, find the right Influencer to work with. Don’t be side-tracked by appearances such as number of followers and number of likes per post. There are many, many ways in which an Instagram user can manipulate metrics. When finding the right Influencer, take the time to look through their account and their posts. Do you like their captions, what they write about, their point of view on life? Do they have the same interests as you / your brand? Do you share the same values? Do you like the type of photos they take? Do they reply to their followers’ comments? What are they like in their Stories? Do they seem like the type of people you’d hang out with?

This may seem irrelevant for creating ads, but it’s not. If you find someone who is aligned to your brand, the advert is more likely to come out as a natural recommendation.

Yes, metrics are important because you will be investing resources into this advert and you need to see results. There is little point in finding a perfect Influencer who is only going to reach 20 accounts with your advert. But be realistic. Remember that likes are not the whole picture. How many times have you seem a photo on Instagram which you really liked but you never bothered to double-tap? Also, it depends on the purpose of your advert. Perhaps you just want the advert created for you so you can repost on social media channels yourself. So the Influencer’s reach is almost irrelevant (this is what we would call you sourcing a content creator instead).


  • Check how many adverts your potential (small sized) Influencer does. At seasonal times Influencers may have lots of work, all of which will be genuine products they want to promote for the season. Christmas gifts, Christmas decorations… so much stuff! And that’s all normal and organic. But on a day to day, if your potential Influencer does adverts / gifted items / press trips for everything and anything under the moon, their followers may have stopped paying attention to their ads. They may still double tap, but they may not necessarily buy it as they won’t see it as a genuine recommendation but as just as something else someone is trying to sell them. Look out for Influencers who promote things which go in line with their account, their bio and their lifestyle.


  • Allow your Influencer to be themselves. Their personality, their photo style, the way they write their captions is what makes people follow them. They’ve built their following with a lot of work usually over a long time, and they are the experts in what their followers enjoy seeing. If you don’t want to give your Influencer creative freedom, you probably shouldn’t be using one, you better off hiring a traditional marketing agency to fulfil a very specific brief. Allow your Influencer creative freedom and they will create an advert in line with their feed so it looks authentic, in line with their followers interests and with their own voice, so it sounds like a recommendation and not like a sale. Some of the worse adverts I have created are the ones I was told very specifically what to create. No one wins.


  • Having said that, don’t forget to give your Influencer a clear brief to work from. Even creatives need parameters and you are the expert in you brand and your product. The brief must cover what you are trying to achieve from the campaign (Is it sales? Brand awareness? To grow your social media presence?), time scales (be realistic and you can work with your Influencer on this), any key points about the product / service you would like them to mention, any specifics about the brand, such as a colour scheme, a hashtag or a motto. Tell them what that the call-to-action should be and the context of your brand. Then trust your Influencer to communicate those points effectively in their style. Giving your Influencer a bad brief or no brief at all will possibly waste your money/gifted product or even portray your brand in an undesired way.


  • Give your Influencer enough time to prepare their content. If you don’t, they are likely to take a selfie holding your product and “that will do”. And it is likely to come across as an after-thought post for a bit of cash. Nothing against selfies holding products if that is what it was meant to be and not a last-minute photo to meet an unrealistic deadline. So plan your campaigns as far in advance as you can so you have time to find your perfect Influencers and give them plenty of time to come up with something great. (you are planning for Christmas already, right? If you are not you should, as big Influencers’ diaries are filling up fast for December). Most influencers have a lot going on (just like you). As well as their family and a day job they will possibly have quite a few campaigns going at the same time (if they are lucky). Some of them will be better paid (if yours is paid) than yours. If you don’t give them enough time to produce, they will prioritise the other campaigns over yours.



Be a pleasure to work with. Provide a clear brief, manage expectations, reply to emails quickly, get the product posted promptly, pay on time. Thank the influencer at the end of the campaign. Follow them on social media and don’t unfollow at the end of the campaign. Don’t make them reshoot 5 times because you’re not happy (if this happens you are either working with the wrong Influencer or you gave them a bad brief). The nicer the experience of working with you, the better effort they will make on the advert. This Influencer is also now an ambassador for life if you play it right. Way after the campaign is over, keep engaging with their posts, send them a Christmas card. They will probably engage back and keep recommending you “just because”. And if the campaign goes well, work with them again. Long-term partnerships are preferred over one-off adverts by both Influencers and followings. And other Influencers in the same niche will take notice of you, and you of them, and now you are starting to find a nice group of people you trust and who you know will do a good job for you.


To sum up, making an ad look like a genuine recommendation, in my opinion, comes down to finding the right Influencers in the first place and building a friendly and professional relationship with them. The ALL BY MAMA Network is a great place to start when looking for Influencers. You can also search for hashtags in your niche and see who pops up. If you find someone interesting, look at the people who commented on that post. Often Influencers of similar size will know each other and support each other, so you can find more people to potentially work with in the comments too. If your product or service is area specific, like a shop, search for the location and see what posts around that location comes up.

I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions I’m very happy to chat –, or DM me on Instagram (gabigandolfini).

I’m going to end by leaving you with some of my most successful adverts as an example. Not necessarily measured in likes! They were successful in terms of reach, leads, swipe ups in stories, how happy the brand was with the outcome, how positive the experience was for me, how much creative freedom I had etc. I hope it inspires you for your future campaigns!



If you want to find out more from Gabi, please see below;

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