That Valuable Space Where Content and Influencer Marketing Meet

  • May 14th, 2018

Let’s face it, traditional outbound marketing is losing ground at a rapid pace. Older and well-established brands who have a firm foothold in the market can expect better returns for banner ads, print ads, and email campaigns. But, a new brand trying to find its way into the market should be looking into more effective ways to market. We talk a lot about influencer marketing here, and that will be integrated in this post as well, but now we’ll discuss the importance of content and content marketing.

What is Content?

Really, anything that is produced or published counts as content. For the sake of what we’re talking about, though, we’ll set funny memes and selfies aside for now. The content we’ll focus on is the type that’ll really help drive brand awareness and bring traffic your way. Blog posts, white papers, infographics, e-books, informative videos…these are the formats where you can really get your message out. Most brands have someone on their team that can and should produce content on a regular, consistent basis, and that’s big. Making sure the subject is relevant and timely is an important part of this, so stay abreast of current topics and news, and check your facts twice (we all know how the “news” can be these days).

Make It Work for You

As digital marketing whiz Lee Odden said,” Content is the reason search engines exist and it’s the cornerstone of what people share on the social web. A quantity of quality content that answers readers’ questions in a useful and entertaining way serves everything from demand generation to lead generation.”

Now, Mr. Odden has been around a long time, and had a lot of success. So, it’s instructive to pull this statement apart to examine the value of its parts. It’s true, what else would search engines search for? And you want to be at the top of those searches, so do your research regarding SEO and the terms that  might be searched for when someone is trying to find your type of product or service. Don’t be afraid to be super specific either; long-tail searches (i.e. “running shoes” vs. “trail running shoes with arch support”) are quite valuable, so make sure to consider niche words and phrases as part of your content.

Next, yes, people share. In astounding volume. Often, it’s a bit of a reflex, like the aforementioned funny memes. Your friends share your sense of humor, goofy or dark as it is, and so you figure they’ll appreciate what you send. Now, take that theory and apply it to entertaining and knowledgeable content. Read a clever blog post about property values skyrocketing around highly rated schools? You’ll likely pop on Facebook and LinkedIn and share it with realtors, parents, builders, and everyone else in your network that might also find it interesting. It’s easy, free and lots of those folks will appreciate the gesture. That’s the personal and professional value of relevant content…it does a lot of the work for you.

Bring in the Influencers

Don’t forget, good content also informs and educates. You certainly want some of it to extoll the value of your brand, but don’t be afraid to venture into other relevant topics. Well-written posts that make people laugh, think, or get all the feels is valuable…it brings traffic and is shared just as often, if not more. Here’s a good place to bring in some of those influencers, also. They can share your juicy content and get it in front of many new potential consumers or brand fans. Aside from having influencers share your brand’s content, many influencers are experts and having these industry experts write a white paper or e-book for you does it all: informs, entertains, praises your brand, and is seen by all of the influencer’s loyal audience. That’s a big win for your brand.

In short, get your content out there, whether you write it yourself or hire a professional to do it. Influencers and freelancers who write long-form content should be a constant part of your team. Who is doing it for you?

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Are You for Real?: The Danger of Fake Influencers

  • May 2nd, 2018

Think about it…what are the good fake things in life? Fake nails? Sure, they can look good. Fake ID? Hopefully you don’t currently have one, but they were nice when you needed it.  Fake news? Don’t think anyone digs that. So, how does it feel when you are committed to an influencer marketing campaign—both financially and creatively and it turns out a major portion (either influencers or followers) were fake? You don’t even want to know. Here are a few stories to scare you and more importantly, ways to avoid getting duped.

Horror Stories

When it comes to luxury, one name that comes to mind is Ritz Carlton. Service and quality are their top priorities and their customers always expect it. Ritz Carlton expected the best from their influencer marketing campaign, but what they got was fleabag motel status. According to analytics from Points North, an influencer marketing analytics group, an astounding 78% of the Instagram “followers” of the influencers Ritz Carlton hired were fake. And they aren’t alone. Giant brands like Proctor & Gamble and Neiman Marcus fell victim to the same situation. What exactly does that mean? Well, the era of the social bots is upon us, and it’s no joke.

In a shocking expose, the New York Times published this report that found that as many as 48 million Twitter accounts—almost 15% of total users—were automated to resemble actual people. Facebook has subtly admitted to similar numbers of bots on their platform also. So, yes, this amounts to fraud, and a lot of well-intentioned money down the drain.

This however, is no reason to abandon your entire marketing strategy nor to distrust all influencers. To be fair, many of these content creators have an enormous number of followers on multiple platforms. One popular post can result in hundreds or even thousands of new likes, follows and shares. Just as vetting new team members can be a thorough and laborious process for you, the same applies to vetting influencers. Do some go out and “buy” bots to increase their reach? Most certainly. And that falls squarely under the fraud umbrella. But the value that honest influencers can provide should far outweigh the concern over dishonest ones.

Do Your Homework

These influencers are savvy, smart and discerning. If they can’t spot fake followers, how on earth should you be expected to? It’s a challenge, to be sure, and one that could take up valuable time and resources. One way is to hire the experts…they have powerful software and teams dedicated to vetting influencers and their followers. If you’re more of a DIY person, there are a few basic steps you can take to try to spot a bot.

  • Odd/incorrect/foreign language: Creating bots overseas is big business, and most have at least a basic grasp on English language and grammar. Plus, many real followers make occasional spelling and punctuation errors. That said, strange capitalizations, incorrect tenses, and generally awkward phrasing should be a red flag.
  • Single followers saying the same thing across many accounts: They might be careful, but need to be prolific. Slapping the same phrase/comment on many comment threads is a good indicator of automated activity.
  • Generic or default uploaded profile pics: Many bots don’t even have a profile pic…or sometimes use stock photos, or even celebrity shots.
  • Social activity: Poke around any given follower’s activity. If they don’t have evidence of regular social engagement, and are always on various brand/ad pages, you might have a bot on your hands…

Now, any actual user could do these things…but any combination makes it more likely. Want another way to reduce the likelihood of bot followers? Consider using micro-influencers. These content creators typically have a smaller reach, which makes it more likely that they have engaged and loyal audiences. Not only can you trust these people in terms of authenticity, but they also have a much better connection with their followers…bots would stick out like a sore thumb. If you want a more secure relationship with an audience that can truly resonate with your brand, think smaller and mightier.

Thoughts on bots? What would you do to prevent this from happening? Let us know your ideas below!

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Being a Good Influence: How to Use Influencer Marketing for Just Causes

  • April 26th, 2018

Everywhere you look, there’s a worthy cause that could use some help. Animal shelters, clean water, cancer research, hurricane relief…really, too many to list. Many of us identify with efforts near and dear to our hearts and contribute what we can when we can. And when we see a brand that’s making an effort to donate and help, we’ll often consider choosing it over another. Today, we’re going to go over how this can relate to influencer marketing. Whether you work for one of these charities or non-profits that needs a boost, or you’re a brand that could both help and benefit from being associated with a certain cause, there’s something in this post for you.

Sweet Charity

Face it…every business could use some positive marketing strategies. And if you work for a charity or non-profit, you’re not an exception. In fact, influencer marketing may be the one tactic that helps you hit your goal. People want authenticity and honesty, and nowhere is this more true than social cause. Donors want to know what situation needs help, where their dollars will be going, and how it winds up helping those in need.

Step 1: Choosing an influencer who is already familiar or involved with your cause is the first step. Sure, a celebrity holding a puppy may boost donations to a local shelter, but, working with an expert or authority that has experience in your specific field will have an audience already focused on your cause, and likely ready to help however they can. It may be a smaller reach, but targeted and devoted quality should always outperform random quantity.

Step 2: Vet your potential partners for relevant content, consistent messaging and regular engagement with their audience. Have them share some of your messaging on their social networks to gauge responses…if there’s a gap in authenticity or relevance, it’ll likely show in the reaction to these posts.

Step 3: Include them in your cause when applicable, and have the influencers document it for their own content—a firsthand look at pick-up day at a local food bank or visit to a children’s hospital will not only provide content, but will likely deliver an emotional impact that you can’t make up. Have them interview some of those in need, and some who are delivering the help, also.

Step 4: To wrap up the experience, put them in touch with those who have received and benefitted from the help. This may involve retaining these influencers for the long-term, but that’s a good thing. Documenting the good work your company does from beginning to end, in their own organic way, should increase awareness and donations in a way that your own content can’t.

Give and You Shall Receive

It’s just as likely that you work for a for-profit brand or marketing agency, and would like to see how getting involved in a social cause would impact your business. In this survey, we get to know the belief-driven buyer: consumers who will support a brand that stands up for or supports causes, political beliefs, or other issues that align with that consumer. Over half of each of the coveted generational buying groups (Gen X, Millennial, Gen Z) self-identify as belief-driven buyers, with 66% of Millennials in the U.S. buying based on shared beliefs. That’s a huge number, and, depending on where you’re located and the type of cause you back, it could easily be higher. There’s a couple ways to interpret this, however.

Safe Causes

There are plenty of “safe” causes that almost anyone of any group will support and becoming involved with these would be generally favorable. Donating a percentage of certain sales or matching pledges are generally accepted ways to help. Raising money for children’s causes, fighting widespread diseases like cancer, or combatting hunger will likely be viewed favorably, and it shouldn’t be hard to identify influencers who would leverage their reach to help.

Understand, however, that there’s probably lots of other companies participating in a similar campaign for the same thing. Hosting or sponsoring an event, like a road race or benefit concert, can help you stand out…especially if it involves your employees (who, quite often, have a fair bit of influence and reach themselves).

Like we discussed above, having influencers on the ground floor participating in an event, interviewing participants or keeping a running total of donations really helps with exposure. Be careful with your tone, however; coming across as preachy, demanding, or insistent can be a huge turnoff. Also, make sure you announce a report on your final effort, as everyone wants to know how much difference they made.

Controversial Causes

Other causes are more controversial, such as immigration, gun control, or various equality stances. These stances can swing radically in either direction, and it’s likely that you’ll lose more than a few consumers by affirming your beliefs publicly. That said, the ones who do share your beliefs will support and defend your brand fiercely. 67% of those surveyed have purchased from a brand for the first time because of their public stance on a hot-button issue, 51% will buy that brand exclusively and more often, and 48% will publicly advocate for and defend that brand against critics. That’s a lot of influence, not to mention brand awareness.

High risk usually means high reward, and this is no exception. Before you make your views known, do a thorough self-inspection of your brand, including stances held by previous owners/management and current employees…one contrary tweet by one of your many workers can send the whole thing crashing down. Do the same research on your influencers; passionate advocates can say all sorts of things that may run contrary to your mission. Make sure to keep messaging in line, as your inevitable critics should be dealt with in direct but polite language. Having a team of influencers who have boundaries that are wide but firm gives a structure to your position and makes it easier for them to comply. Lastly, it’s never a bad idea to find like-minded brands to ally and join forces with; there’s power in numbers and social proof, and there’s plenty of good ideas to learn from.

Whatever the result or cause, make sure you actually care and truly support every aspect of it. Good acts beget more good acts…and your bottom line will likely come along for the ride. Have you ever aligned your brand with a cause? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Knowing What You Don’t Know: Gen Z’s Relationship with Influencers

  • April 20th, 2018

Think you have a pretty good idea of what kids these days are into? Well, think again. These young people have grown up in a radically different way than any other generation before them. Their reality is not yours and if you think being a parent of these kids is difficult, trying to appear relevant or cool as a brand is next to impossible. Traditional tactics for advertising in the past have been bypassed by teens with massive loyal YouTube followings that seem virtually impervious to any conventional marketing trend. Confused? You’re not alone. And, short of completely figuring them out, let’s at least see what’s happening in the world of Generation Z.

Who Are They?

Generation Z members are generally considered to be born between the mid-1990’s to the mid-2000’s. They have never been without easy access to the Internet, and have grown older simultaneously alongside all the various social media platforms out there (including those that have failed)…meaning, they’ve had a way of socializing and gleaning information and opinions throughout their lives that few of us had as children.

Events like 9/11 and the Great Recession aren’t anything they’d remember, yet their lives have been shaped greatly by them. They make up a massive 25% of the U.S. population, and are more diverse in all ways than any other preceding them. They’re at once more sheltered and more globally aware at a young age than most of their teachers in school.

If you think all this information at once unlocks the secrets of Gen Z, then we’ve got a job here waiting for you. If it’s still a little vague, however, let’s try to pull these facts apart a bit more.

Diving Deeper

Understand this: this generation has had unlimited choices. What does that mean? Well, there’s always an alternative. In fact, it’s generally preferred. Gen Z social media influencers are socially aware and savvy, and they’re not afraid of moving away from big corporations…or, in some instances, towards them. They will at once praise and promote their friend’s t-shirt business and Wendy’s in the same breath; anti-establishment can become establishment, and vice versa. And, because their measure of success is the approval and engagement with their generational peers, this can pivot on a dime without any indication that it might.

The takeaway for marketers? Have a clear line of communication with potential influencers and a close eye on their channels. Even talking to kids about what they’re watching is a good way to get a feel for which way the trends are heading. But, be careful with your inevitable judgements (we all have them!)…you don’t want to be dismissive of something that may be red hot right now.

Keep It Rolling

Here, we get back on a point that many experts have been pounding the drum about for quite a while: keeping influencers on for an ongoing campaign, rather than a one-and-done deal. We’ve already established that these trends and loyalties can change quickly; not because they’re young and impetuous, but because their audience is shifting also. That’s just good business, and if your brand is already employed as a part of their everyday musings, you’ll be a part of many of their stories for a long time to come. If not, you might be in yesterday’s trash folder with all the others. Also, as we all well know, authenticity is key and an influencer’s stock in trade. They don’t get thousands of followers for nothing and the good ones will make sure they are able to find a fit for your brand organically. And, as a bonus, Gen Z social stars are well acquainted with all FTC regulations, as are their followers, who are more accustomed to and less put off by sponsorship disclaimers than many older viewers.

All In Motion

In case you haven’t heard, video is king. According to this article, an average teenager goes through an average of 65 videos a day! Before you spit your drink out, try to calculate how many you watch a day going through your normal social media, news and sports routine. It’s probably more than you think…all those short clips and highlights add up. And this is where the future is going, whether it’s YouTube or embedded videos on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. Brand-produced content, in any form, continues to decrease in efficacy, where influencer-produced content is capturing more and more of the market…and every Gen Z star is using it. Look at the most viewed videos on YouTube and see for yourself. Video typically costs a bit more to produce, but it’s worth it.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Hire ‘Em

Lastly, if you’ve tried multiple ways to connect and be relevant to this Gen Z and you’re still struggling, look into hiring a member of your target group to advise you. For example, Connor Blakely currently advises huge brands like the NHL and Johnson & Johnson on how to become relevant and accessible to his peers. Even reading an interview can help you figure out a few things out…like the importance of social causes for a brand or the revelation that no one his age really uses Facebook anymore. Short of hiring someone his age, marketing departments would do well to at least do some research and consultation with someone like Blakely.

So, to wrap it up, we can agree there’s a lot we don’t know. But, considering this generation will have billions of buying power in the next few decades, we’d better do the work to figure it out.

Is your brand trying to market to Gen Z? Share your experience in the comments below!

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5 Tips to Ensure Your Next Influencer Marketing Campaign Succeeds

  • April 6th, 2018

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably done something right. Namely, you’ve realized that influencer marketing is the most dynamic and effective strategy to get your brand noticed. But, before you pat yourself on the back too hard, you should realize that there are a few common steps you can take to make sure everything runs smoothly. If you skip a few, you might find yourself wondering why it never got off the ground.

The Initial Outreach

After you’ve identified your influencers, start at the beginning. Your first contact with these valuable collaborators needs to be thought out well. First off, it needs to be personal. Yes, it will save you lots of time to push out mass emails but remember, you are starting an extensive partnership with these folks. First, use their name to greet them. Then, take some time to read their blogs and comment on their content. You need to vet their site anyhow and mentioning a specific piece that they created establishes a personal assurance that you admire their work.

Next, make sure your email is concise, lays out exactly what you’re expecting from them, and gets to the point quickly. Remember, many influencers get dozens of these emails a day and don’t have the time or patience to wade through a long or meandering email. Pay attention to the subject line and make it an offer to work with you and not for you. Emphasize the spirit of collaboration and let them know that creative freedom is the kind of partnership that you are seeking out. These are easy steps and everything you can do to make it personal counts.

Have a Plan

You should have a concrete vision of the theme and tone of the campaign in mind before you even start your outreach, so get your brainstorming going early. Take a look at case studies of other successful campaigns to see what has been effective elsewhere and really explore the parameters of your brand to evaluate what would work best.

Some approaches are funny, irreverent, emotional or sincere in tone—there’s no wrong direction so look for the one that fits your brand and the tone of the influencers you reach out to. Maybe create a challenge…most bloggers have a strong community of colleagues that they communicate with and getting a bit of competition going can not only be fun and interactive, but, it can also exponentially expand the number of eyes on your brand.

Make sure your messaging is clear and give them all the high-quality assets they need to represent your brand properly. High-resolution images, logos, and videos should be easy to embed and showcase. Think up a clever hashtag or two and make sure no one’s used it before. Give them plenty of direction, yet the creative freedom to do their thing, and you should see great results.

Make Sure It Fits

It’s one thing to find the perfect influencer and yet another to partner with them. The real trick, though, is to be able to mesh their strengths with your vision for your brand. The first step in accomplishing this feat is a step we’ve already covered: comprehensive research on the influencers themselves. Some are YouTube stars, for example, and asking them to create specific written content might not turn out well for anyone. Various social media platforms highlight particular talents, so don’t try to force your ideas onto a space or influencer where it wouldn’t fit. Once you’ve found that easy fit, cater to it.

Most importantly, if you’re unsure of the best way to find a fit…ask. Feel free to check in with your content creators to inquire what they think works best. They have loads of experience—both  good and bad—and will appreciate the attention to detail and the desire to do things the right way.

Engagement Party

On the heels of that advice about asking your influencers for their opinions comes the magic word that everyone in this business uses constantly: engagement. A quality blogger not only racks up likes, shares and emojis…they communicate with their readers. Answering questions, giving recommendations, and thanking folks for their kind words is good practice, but it also complies favorably with most social media algorithms to keep the posts at the top of the feed for longer.

The same goes for engagement between your brand and the influencer. Be sure to engage with your influencer early and often, keep the lines of communication wide open and be prepared to answer questions. It’s also a good idea to keep in touch after the campaign ends as you might just get a few more brand mentions.

Finally, you should consider retaining some of these influencers throughout the year, as opposed to the one-and-done model. Readers will identify with your brand with the same loyalty and trust that they give to their blogger if the mentions and posts keep coming. And that’s what you want, right?

Ensure Proper Disclosure

Keeping in compliance with FTC regulations is a pain point for lots of brands. Things change quickly in digital marketing, and it takes a good amount of time and effort to stay on top of it. Here’s the deal: Any sort of social media or blog commerce, mentions or endorsements need to be accompanied with a disclosure that there was compensation involved. That includes free products, family member involvement, and all sorts of other little situations. You may have dozens, or even hundreds, of individual posts and mentions out there representing your brand; great news, but it could be costly if they don’t all comply. Be very clear with everyone involved what needs to happen to follow these rules.

There are lots of moving parts in influencer marketing campaigns, and we’d like to think we covered a few that are often overlooked. We’d love to hear your suggestions and ideas on this topic…let us know below!

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The Power of the Mid-Level Influencer

  • March 30th, 2018

While 47% of consumers use ad blockers, influencer marketing is on the rise due to an influencer’s ability to raise brand awareness with their authentic yet branded media. Interestingly, influencers with larger followings charge brands more but engage with their audience at a smaller rate.

So, what is a brand to do? Research shows that the mid-level influencer is easier on the budget yet gets higher engagement and conversion rates for brands. Yes, you read that right. Working with mid-level influencers costs less but does better things for brands. Let’s get moving before your competitors capitalize on this strategy better than you do…

What is a Mid-Level Influencer?

A mid-level influencer is someone who has between 10,000 and 100,000 followers on any given social channel or has 10,000-100,000 monthly views on their blog. They specialize in a topic that aligns with their brand partners and they provide “cravable” content and brand recommendations to their followers.

Working with a mid-level influencer is easier on the budget and brands are seeing powerful results from these content creators. As if that weren’t enough, it’s also easier to get the attention of mid-level influencers than that of celebrities or A-Listers, so brands save time with their outreach.

It’s All About Engagement

84% of consumers make purchase decisions based on recommendations from peers. Fortunately, mid-level influencers are often perceived as peers as opposed to celebrities. Hence, a mid-level influencer’s ability to curate and engage with a smaller audience is extremely effective.

One study found that influencers on Instagram with fewer than 100,000 followers engage with their audience at a rate of about 8% while bigger, “A-list,” social stars engage with their audience at a rate of under 2%.

This engagement is crucial for brands because consumers want to ask questions and feel heard by these brand ambassadors in order to make a purchase decision.

Big Brands Are Harnessing the Mid-Level

Big beauty brand, L’Oreal used the power of mid-level influencers to promote their biolage styling products and attributes this strategy to a 10% growth in their Instagram following.

HelloSociety, an influencer marketing agency acquired by The New York Times, found that when they activate mid-level influencers for their clients, they see 60% higher engagement rates.

Sleek watch brand, Daniel Wellington, works with mid-level influencers who take Instagram photos of themselves wearing the watches in their everyday lives. See an example here. They also provide their influencers with discount codes to give their audiences. This allows them to track direct sales and the influencer can offer something even more valuable to their followers.

Natural care products brand, TOMS of Maine, used mid-level influencers to boost social media engagement. Working with mid-level influencers allowed them to scale the number of influencers they worked with and reported boosting consumer engagement by 600%.

How to Find the Right Fit

If this post doesn’t have you at the edge of your seat and ready to start working with mid-level influencers, nothing will. So here are some quick recommendations on how to get started working with these valuable content creators.

  • Prioritize a content fit and areas of expertise. An influencer with 10,000 followers who talks about something niche specific is going to boost a brand way more than an influencer with 200,000 followers whose content topics “sort of” align with a brand.
  • Define your influencer marketing strategy by deciding if you want to run it in house, partner with an agency or work with an influencer network. From there, make sure you cap the number of followers an influencer has by 100,000 to ensure optimal engagement.
  • Allocate a budget before you reach out to influencers. Then, determine the amount of influencers you can work with based on the rates they quote you. The average cost of a mid-level influencer post depends on a lot of variables, but for time sake, plan on $150-$500 per post.
  • Determine goals so that you know how to seed and challenge your influencers with themes and creative content.

Do you have any questions or comments about working with mid-level influencers? We would love to have a conversation with you in the comments below!

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3 Things Influencers Want All Brands to Know

  • March 15th, 2018

So, you’ve made the leap to influencer marketing. You’ve done the research, convinced your partners how effective it is, and are ready to get started. However, there’s likely one part of this whole process that you don’t truly understand enough…the influencer.

Getting to know these creative creators, from how they like to be contacted through the way to they like campaigns to wrap up, is a crucial but often overlooked piece to success in this type of marketing. Learn what they like, and they’ll be enormously valuable and dedicated to your brand. Make a few mistakes, and you just might have trouble even getting your strategy off the ground.

Let’s see what makes influencers want to work with certain brands and not work with others:

What’s the Relevance?

First, you need to appreciate how these people got to the level that is getting them noticed. Most mid to high level influencers started with a basic blog. Slowly and carefully, their unique voice attracted more and more readers who resonated with their stories and found a connection with the author. Eventually, scores of loyal and dedicated fans elevated these bloggers to the influencer level where their opinions and reviews on multiple social channels are now getting major attention.

The one constant throughout this often long and laborious process is the dedication to their audience which means presenting relevant content. The brands they partner with must be a good fit or they risk losing their audience. Mom bloggers review strollers, tech gurus try out the latest phones…and if a brand tries to shoehorn inconsistent products into a carefully curated blog (e.g. sports bloggers reviewing children’s books), it could be disastrous for blogger and brand alike. In this recent survey, 44% of influencers surveyed say that presenting relevant content is the leading reason they’d want to work with a brand. So, do your research and consider the fit. It will make the process so much easier.

Embrace the Freedom

Alright, you’ve got the fit. Maybe you’ve even pulled off a campaign and discovered a few influencers that you’d love to continue a partnership with. It would be quite useful at this point to know why they would want to work with you again. Well, here you go. According to that same survey, 77% of influencers cite creative freedom as the top reason they’d go back to the same brand. Again, this shows how important integrity and authenticity are. Giving these creative professionals enough space and respect to let them organically weave your brand into their narrative is not only beneficial to the blogger, but a smart move for you. After all, this is what they do…and if you’ve come far enough to engage an influencer because you love their content, you should trust the process.

Appreciate and Compensate

It’s an impressive fact that these creators seem to have their audience and their creative freedom at the top of their priority list, as it shows integrity and foresight as to how to keep their business moving forward. Well, you know what else moves a business forward? Money. Let’s face it, it’s most of the reason why we all show up every day and noble thinking doesn’t pay the rent. Make no mistake, these are professionals. And while some may occasionally volunteer their time for altruistic causes or a product that they really believe in, most do (and should) require competitive compensation for their hard work.

In fact, 68% say it’s why they would work with a brand again. You wouldn’t ask for free ad space or your team to come in for free on a weekend. If it’s helping to promote your brand or sell your product, then you need to pay. And don’t forget, words and sentiment go a long way also. Sincere thank you notes, compliments on their posts, or even a gift card or bonus for exemplary work can show how much their efforts are appreciated, just like anyone who goes above and beyond to help you out.

Establishing these practices when running an influencer marketing campaign can not only make your current venture succeed, it can set you up as a brand that all influencers would be eager to collaborate with for future campaigns. And they’ll be much more likely tell their thousands of loyal readers how great your brand really is. Now, everyone’s happy. Wasn’t that worth it?

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4 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing and Fashion Look So Good Together

  • March 9th, 2018

No industry moves quite so fast, trends so quickly, and changes so completely as the fashion industry does. New designers from all over the globe are constantly reinventing style and the days of waiting months for the bulky seasonal release magazines are long gone. Digital marketing and social media are the only ways to keep up with the breakneck speed of fashion trends, and the best way to leverage these methods to your advantage is influencer marketing. Let’s break down a few reasons why this pairing works so well…

Quick Change

As was referenced above, fashion trends move quick. So, it makes sense to put your brand’s hot new styles into the hands (and on the bodies) of influencers. These blog and social voices can instantly showcase your goods on a wide variety of platforms to thousands of loyal fans. Moreover, you can direct your messaging to carefully targeted verticals on your precise timeline…say, to coincide with a spring release or a new website launch.

Point is, having a network of influencers that you can quickly activate on your schedule is a very valuable marketing tool. And the images, social proof, and evergreen content you earn are assets you can use whenever and however you want. Immediate impact and long-term value? That’s a win-win.

Fashion for the People

It’s a common knock on the elite fashion industry: “I would never look good in that!”, or “I don’t look anything like these models!” Face it, it’s hard to make haute couture relatable to the average consumer. The most effective way to make your brand resonate with everyday folks is to actually put everyday folks in your brand.

Not only do you already have these people in your network, you also have an enormous captive audience who see every look and trust every opinion. You’ll never get that sort of genuine and organic content from a direct brand-produced campaign. If you can show people of all sizes and shapes looking and feeling good in your gear, you’ve gone a long way towards making your brand relatable.

Who Wore It Best?

As the digital marketing world evolves, the data is showing that engagement matters far more than reach. All those clicks, likes and shares translate to exposure and brand recognition on an exponential level. Add in conversations on a blog’s comment thread and the impact increases even more. And, by the way, this approach feeds positively into the new Facebook algorithms, where “meaningful interactions” keep the post at the top of the feed.

Getting your readers involved is crucial. However, on a recent innovative campaign by H&M and Bloglovin’, they took it a step further and made it a contest, pitting hundreds of fashion bloggers against each other to win an exclusive meeting with an industry leader. The results were astounding: a huge amount of H&M branded content, an attentive audience weighing in on every move, and massive brand exposure (1.7 million on Instagram alone!). A little friendly competition between the top fashion bloggers in the world ended up with positive results with brand, blogger, and reader alike.

Different Looks, Same (Great) Results

Finally, let’s not forget how many different ways an influencer can reach his or her audience. Most professional influencers have multiple platforms to ply their trade on, so consider the versatility and different verticals this variety can offer. Long-form, evergreen content on a blog, the visual impact of Instagram and Snapchat, dynamic videos on YouTube, social networking and branding opportunities on Facebook and Pinterest…it would take a huge in-house marketing team to apply equal talent and expertise to each channel. Most influencers are already experts on most platforms, and, with careful management, a network can have all those bases covered easily. This shouldn’t be overlooked; it’s not hard to miss crucial messaging, tactics and regulations on multiple channels. Why not hire the experts to do their thing naturally for you?

Are you a brand that this type of strategy resonates with? Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

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Influencer Marketing or Traditional PR: Which Gets Your Business?

  • March 2nd, 2018

As we immerse ourselves in 2018 and new marketing goals and trends, every marketing department is trying to figure out how to be smarter with their budget. It’s a tough call; knowing what works now in the ever-changing and dynamic digital marketing world can be daunting and even trickier if you’re launching a new brand. Two of the best choices we’ll examine here are Public Relations (PR), and Influencer Marketing (IM). PR is a time-tested and traditional way to get the word out about what’s new, and IM is the cutting edge and technology-savvy method of telling your story. Which one works best? Can they work together? Let’s do some digging and find out.

How Influencer Marketing and PR are Similar

First off, there are many ways the two styles are similar. The most important thing they have in common? They both use someone else to talk about your brand, and this is crucial. Studies show that consumers are becoming more and more wary of and indifferent to direct outbound marketing (i.e. banner ads, print ads, website copy, billboards, etc.), and for good reason.

Both PR and IM require careful outreach and the ability to connect with your storyteller. Establishing this relationship can set the tone for an entire campaign; a thoughtful, genuine email or press release can get people excited about promoting your brand, while a hasty or uninformed request can stop things before they ever start. This may be the part of the process where you might consider hiring a professional to manage the outreach and design your campaign, saving you time and worry down the road.

Think about it as you would dating: would you be more inclined to date someone who is bragging and telling you how great he/she is…or would you choose someone that a trusted friend knows well and highly recommends? Apply this way of looking at how humans operate to marketing. Simply put, a good (or bad) word from family, friends or trusted voices online will almost always sway a potential buyer one way or the other.

Let’s Understand PR a Little Better

Traditional PR has been around for decades, and for good reason. Before the internet, the absolute best way to launch a brand or a new product was to send an exciting and informative press release to a variety of media producers. Hopefully, the PR professional in charge of the campaign had great connections in these outlets, and would use these relationships to push for enthusiastic promotion and timely placement. It’s much the same today, and the proliferation of internet media outlets means stories can go viral overnight. The coverage could conceivably go on for a long time, as different producers pick up the story.

This, of course, is the ideal situation. What’s the downside? Well, it’s basically a loss of control. It’s entirely possible that no one will pick up the story, especially if the press release or contacts weren’t professionally arranged. It may take a long time, maybe months after your brand or product launch. Simply put, there’s no guarantee any part of this will go as planned.

Let’s Understand Influencer Marketing a Little Better

Influencer marketing, on the other hand, gives you a lot of control. You can identify, vet and engage the perfect blogger or social media star in the exact niche you want to represent your brand. You can give them specific messaging and high-quality images for their post as well as an exact timeline for when you want the story to go live. If you’re thinking long-term, you can even arrange staggered posts, keeping brand awareness and buzz going for months.

Influencers have loyal and devoted fans, giving you a rapt audience who now takes your brand very seriously. And, as we well know with the internet, each post gets shared and reposted extending and amplifying your message exponentially. Not to mention about 86% of brands are implementing influencer marketing and reporting great results.

There are challenges, however. The first part of the campaign, the identify/vet/contact part, can be very difficult for the average marketing associate to attempt. Professional agencies who specialize in IM use powerful software and long-standing and carefully nurtured relationships to accomplish this…it might be hard to see results otherwise.

What marketing and PR tactics do you have planned for your upcoming goals? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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What Your Influencer Marketing Should Look Like In 2018

  • February 21st, 2018

As New Year’s resolutions are already falling to the wayside, marketing plans are solidifying and the pressure is on to present your brand to the world in the most effective way possible.

 Influencer marketing is still the hottest tactic out there and brands are continuing to invest in making it work for them. Problem is, things change. Fast. Rules, regulations, trends, technology…in the dynamic world of influencer marketing, everything can change overnight. So, at least for the moment, let’s check out what’s happening now.

Trust the Little Guy

If you’ve been following these trends closely, you might remember how the micro-influencer gained a lot of popularity in the past year. Typically defined as having less than 100,000 followers on social, these niche-specialized bloggers and social media stars are quickly becoming the go-to specialists for many brands, and for good reasons.

  • Loyalty and Trust: These influencers have spent years of hard work establishing trust with their readers, and it shows with their brand choices and integrity. If a product or brand doesn’t fit their niche or philosophy, they typically don’t agree to work with them. Authenticity is their currency, so if you have a good connection with them, they’ll usually do a great job representing you to that prized target audience.
  • Engagement: This is usually defined as an influencer’s effectiveness in generating a reaction with their audience. Likes, shares and views are typical metrics and these are highly sought after…but can be misleading. An A-List celebrity can garner several thousand likes in just a few minutes, but these are often more knee jerk reactions than true appreciations. A micro-influencer may get fewer likes but will often further engage their reader with answers to their comments and even share and link with other bloggers and social stars, getting more relevant eyes on your brand and that outstanding content.
  • Cost: Based on the above information, and the way marketers typically compensate influencers, micro-influencers are often way more cost-effective. This nifty infographic shows the efficiency of micro-influencer engagement, and why a passionate and engaging writer can do much more for less.

 

No More One and Done

When many brands start to dip their toe into influencer marketing, they often begin with a one-time, limited campaign, usually to check the efficacy of a marketing method they’ve never used. That’s fine, and most move forward when they see the success.

A better and more effective approach is to look at influencer marketing as an ongoing strategy. Consider making a plan that works with the same influencers throughout the year. Statistics show that consumer action significantly spikes when an influencer mentions a brand three times.

Take ongoing influencer marketing a step further and check out this article on utilizing influencers to optimize customer experience and sales; many brands are keeping these campaigns going throughout the year, producing evergreen content and brand amplification month after month.

New Year, New Rules

Gone are the days when brands and influencers run wild with secret relationships and undisclosed compensations. Now, everyone has to play by the rules or face the consequences. The Federal Trade Commission notably cracked down on several brands this year, and the message was clear: influencers must clearly disclose the nature of their post, and how they were compensated (either a written blurb or a prominently displayed hashtag at the beginning of the post, such as #ad). Compliance can be tricky, and an experienced influencer marketing agency can ensure it across the board.

Another notable change to take note of was Facebook’s recent announcement regarding their news feed algorithm. In an effort to make “meaningful interactions” with friends and family a priority, posts that have lots of back and forth conversations and are shared within your friend group will be prominently featured. Conversely, public pages from businesses that don’t result in conversations and posts that blatantly ask for engagement (“Please COMMENT” or “Like and Share with your friends!”, for example) will result in much lower distribution. How do you keep up with these changes? Meaningful content and long-standing relationships with influencers who organically weave your brand into said content will continue to encourage those “meaningful interactions” with their audience without blatantly asking for them…which is the whole point of using influencer marketing. Keep your eyes peeled for further details!

What does influencer marketing in 2018 look like for you? Join the conversation here, and get the ideas rolling!

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