The Do’s and Don’ts of Influencer Marketing

In collaboration with Joseph Cancilla from ide8ion.

TLDR: The people who post on social media are a marketing campaigns’ best friends.

Influencer marketing is an arrow in your quiver unlike any other. With the saturation of talking heads and small social media stars, it’s also more accessible than ever.

In short, influencer marketing is paying someone else to talk about your product or business. This most often takes the form of sponsored or paid posts and videos.

There are thousands of people who cultivate an audience on the Internet. From silly life updates to educational videos to game walk-throughs to hard-hitting political analysis, social media influencers cover niches for everyone. It’s likely your business matches the interests of some online community somewhere.

These aren’t just A-list celebrities in Hollywood or music. Some are humble platforms with ten thousand weekly subscribers. Between 250 thousand and 900 thousand is considered a medium-sized channel. Big hitters just under A-list can draw one million to six million view each week.

With so many options, the question then becomes, “Who do I choose?”

Simple. Choose who has an audience that you need to speak to.

Different social media sites have different audiences, naturally. Facebook is often the home for older users, while new media like Instagram or Snapchat are prevalent in younger demos. A YouTube influencer is going to have longer content typically aired once a week, while a Twitter account will need several short bursts daily to make an impact.

Blogs are also a useful outlet. A pervasive and consistently popular genre of blogs are “mommy bloggers” or “family bloggers.” These parents post their lives – struggles, triumphs, fun times and more – for all the world to see.

So if you sell baby products and you can find a local mommy blogger, you would be remiss not to try to plug your stuff there.

Traditional marketing intake and research methods are still used with influencer marketing. With the analytics tools built into social media, you find out what kind of audience each influencer attracts. As with any marketing, don’t just slap your message to every place that will take you. Target your efforts to talk to your customers.

When you’ve found a person you feel would represent your brand well, what’s next? There is no template to how you approach an influencer. The most important thing is to be you, a human being. Make friends with them! Network. Connect.

One example was our very own company. We set up a booth at a gym in search of a certain stripe of influencer. Lo and behold, someone with a decent following from a different industry approached us spontaneously. We didn’t waste the opportunity to make a connection.

Software services are available with keyword specific search engines. You can churn out a list of influencers in your category, but it doesn’t create a relationship. You’re going to have to hit the phones (yes, cold calling!) and shoot some emails. Blogger networks exist that also provide means of communicating.

Rarely is it a good idea to coercer or pressure an influencer into participating. Have something in if for them. They have an audience they have to keep a rapport with, and the wrong brand in the wrong place comes off as disingenuous. Some will want to try the product first, so you may have to give out a free sample to win them over.

One influencer on Vine had a following of 1.2 million. A client of ide8tion’s paid him $280, which kept the video loop up for 2 hours. Loops in the feed started climbing so fast, they were still spinning days later. This garnered a steady residual exposure for the brand.

Don’t think that because this person you chose to sponsor has only a few thousand followers that they are willing to do ads for free. Payment is the standard. Be reasonable. Their influence is worth your money.

There are generally two ways to work with influencers. They can create content from scratch, on their own. Or you can create the content, with the hope they will charge you less. Micromanaging the creative ideas of the influencer will not help you in this arena unless they agree to use your material.

Watch out for FTC and FCC rules and regulations. Truth in advertising laws still apply to social media. Instruct the influencer to use the hashtags #sponsored or #ad, or to somehow let their audience know that this is a paid promotion. (For information on how to navigate regulation, see our article here or our video here.)

Even though paid content can be a drag for content creators, there are still fun and light ways to go about it. The authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul were publishing their book during the OJ Simpson trial. The clever idea to send free copies of the book to every jury member popped into their heads. When the camera operators realized every juror had the same book, it became an item of interest – and then a leading video on headline news.

Needless to say, Chicken Soup for the Soul became a bestseller.

The authors didn’t stop there, however. They would call into radio stations and plug their book whenever the host let them. Many hosts were pleasantly surprised and ended up chatting about their book for a nice chunk of air time.

This may seem like it’ll be an expensive endeavor. Fear not! Many influencers don’t have to be popular or even well known to have the respect of others. A small authentic presentation is better than a generic blast of the airwaves any day.

Perhaps you have a wealth of knowledge you would like to share. You can become an influencer too! Nothing will give you more credibility in conversations with other influencers than being a decent one yourself. A friendly tone and useful info is the place to start. Mix a dab of passion in there, a platform like a blog or video channel in there, and you’ve got a recipe for success! Of course, posting once or twice a month won’t do much. Be consistent in your posting – weekly at minimum.

Once you’ve got your creative mojo going, connect with other channels or pages in your industry. Don’t get stuck in perfectionism. The skills you need will develop in time.

Whatever you do, don’t let your social media be a ghost town. The influencer can’t do all of your marketing for you. If you have no landing page to go to, or a channel with one video posted last year, much of your effort will have been in vain. Consumers need at least a website to find.

Case in point: Bored Shorts TV, a local YouTube channel, produces a video series titled “Kid History.” They began with a simple idea: get kids to tell funny stories and then have adults act it out with the kid voices dubbed over them. It’s a hilarious idea, and it didn’t take major cinematographers from powerhouse studios to film. Just some guys in their garage… basically.

If your company is larger and more well known, or if you are feeling bold, the potential is sky high. Josh Groban has done promotions. Lindsey Stirling. Devin Graham. BuzzFeed. Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers. The list goes on and on.

At the end of the day, be intentional. Have a plan. Only pay for air time or word counts that will reach your customers. Contrary to popular belief, the best online marketing pushes are calculated, not sporadic.

Thanks for getting this far! Good luck with your campaign!


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