Although it is not promoted with the ferocity of established holidays, Back to School keeps our influencers nearly as busy now as the holiday season. From preschool crafts to college furniture, there’s no shortage of opportunities to work with influencers to promote your products and create ROI-positive consumer connections this quarter. And with Back to School sales expected to climb 2.6% in July and August compared to 1.5% last year, marketers are encouraged to take advantage of the shopping season.

There’s a lot of great branded content out there right now. Gap’s back to school videos set an excellent example by incorporating storytelling into their messages. The videos show kids either on their way to school or in the classroom, with voiceovers reading letters from their parents. the combination is touching and relatable—it pulls you in. That’s the good side of content.

Then there’s the bad. Gap’s email for back to school has been called sexist. Whether or not you agree that the images perpetuate gender stereotypes, the social media firestorm has been unleashed, and it’s not a genie you can put back in the bottle. While Gap was not looking to offend people, if marketers work harder to really understand their research and their audience, situations like these can largely be avoided.

Authentic, influencer-driven content would have driven remarkable engagement and better connected Gap to their key audiences with a higher level of dexterity than what they ran with. Gap’s videos were heartfelt and engaging, and amplifying that success through influencers would have helped them connect and stand out. The result could have been an authentic representation of real people using products in real ways—much more relatable to parents who are living the hustle and grind of getting the kiddos back to school.

Influencers can also help brands think of new ways to showcase their products and act as a sounding board before creative is released. For example, sharing the campaign components with their influencers for context as part of the Influencer Creative Brief would likely have sparked a similar reaction to the public and helped Gap avert the PR crush.

If you haven’t thought about how to leverage influencers for your back to school efforts, it’s not too late. You could have an influencer program up and running within days on our platform. Whether it’s an easy guide for parents looking for school lunch ideas, or tips and tricks for a nervous (but excited) high school freshman, influencers love to create content that reflects what is hot for this year’s Back to School season.