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Why your brand needs Mirror and Window content from creators

Campaigns need multiple brief types these days. Here are two ways to approach your partnerships.

We’re, what… a decade into modern influencer marketing? Twice as many if you count mommy bloggers & early 2000s affiliate plays. Either way, it’s amazing how influencer strategy is still largely unsolved.

I’ve sat on stages and said the best influencer partnerships happen when brands properly identify creators with the right audiences & niches, then give them space to do their thing… but that’s not as scientific as it should be, either. Brands have different content needs at different phases of their product lifecycles at different phases of their company at different phases of their… you get the idea.

I did some freelance creator strategy work a few years back with Fohr—they’re an NYC-based influencer marketing agency working with brands like Sephora, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Kohl’s. I’ve always loved their thought leadership pieces, especially their New Rules Of Influencer Marketing, a list of seven must-haves for effective brand + creator partnerships in 2024.

We’ve partnered up to diver deeper on one of my favorite points from their whitepaper: understanding when you need mirror content vs. window content.

What is “Mirror” content?

Let’s jump right to Fohr’s definition—they sum it up nicely.

“We brief creators for mirror content when we know the exact framing, messaging, and aesthetic needed and we want it reflected back. This typically works best when a brand needs content for their own use or if there’s a specific trend or story to tell.”

This is a more prescriptive angle for influencer marketing that’s gonna become an increasingly common ask from brands this year. Companies have taken notice that even the most brand-heavy creator content often outperforms a company’s owned social content, triggering a few new reactions:

  • Influencer deals might now include rights for the brand to post natively to their own channel and/or use Instagram’s collab feature

  • Brands are increasing UGC usage to put human faces to their brands

  • In-house content creator positions are becoming more common

Take the below Instagram Reel from The LeRoys, making content for Dick’s Sporting Goods (click the image to view). It’s responsible, it hits the talking points hard, and it really makes the brand the star of the content.

If your brand has a very specific message or story to tell, you’ll want to brief creators for Mirror content. And hey, the most creative creators probably aren’t gonna love the ask precisely because it’s a bit prescriptive—that’s why targeting creators perfect for your brand becomes essential. You want creatively-aligned and value-aligned influencers who think it’s a no-brainer to work with your brain.

What is “Window” content?

A little more Fohrsight for ya:

“Window content is different. Unlike a mirror, it’s about creating a portal to a new perspective. It’s a way to make the most of someone’s individual influence—give the creator a KPI and let them work their magic. Window content is best for entertainment, persuasion, and trust.”

This is the more “fun” approach to influencer marketing—the angle you probably see creators and social media managers championing because it often encourages crazy ideas. They’re big swings at virality by allowing the creator to be fully themselves, backed by brand budgets (and hopefully some strong tie-ins). A great example: this Corporate Natalie content for Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Think about it this way. You’ve probably got a few dream creators in mind for your brand—creators you admire for their storytelling, their personalities, their touch, and hopefully their audience. When you’ve got an influencer you trust creatively, let them cook! This isn’t a moment for extreme responsibility—it’s a chance for your brand’s story to be told in a way that couldn’t come straight from your logo.

Should you ask creators for Window or Mirror content?

You knew the answer was gonna be “both” as soon as you read that question. They’re two distinct approaches with two distinct purposes, and you’ll need both to run an effective brand—not just influencer marketing campaign, but brand.

This essay just hit one of Fohr’s big points, and I really think you need to read all seven if you’re spending in the influencer space. The full report hits on:

  • Key takeaways vs. Key messages

  • Testing vs. Trusted creator ratios

  • Safe bet vs. big swing strategy

  • plus a whole lot more.

Here’s a little bonus—I’m co-hosting a webinar on the 7 Rules with Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz and the Fohr team! We’ll explain the concepts + have a Q&A on all things influencer marketing! You can register right over here.