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By Lee Odden.

We talk a lot here on Online Marketing Blog about influencer marketing and one of the benefits of incorporating the voices of influencers in brand content is not often covered: customer experience.

What’s the connection between CX and influence? A big part of customer experience is trust and many customers simply do not trust brands or advertising.

That’s where adding credible 3rd party voices to brand content comes into play. Brands that want to deliver the most relevant, engaging and actionable experience for their customers will often incorporate external experts that already have the attention of the audience that brands want to reach.

Partnering with relevant influencers to co-create content can open doors for brands trying to engage hard to reach and increasingly skeptical audiences. Those content collaborations can also help deliver an experience that is more credible and trusted than brand content alone.

Of course, simply including influencer quotes in brand content is not enough. In order to optimize brand content to be more trusted, influencer contributions must be genuine, authentic, and ultimately impactful.

The starting point for influencer collaboration success begins with brands identifying specific topics of influence. Those topics need to be aligned with what customers care about so that when the brand identifies and engages with influencers on those topics, they are authentic to customer interests. Influencers that understand firsthand what buyer goals, pain and interests are in the context of solutions the brand offers can be critical for content collaboration that is genuine and impactful.

Another part of influencer and brand authenticity is disclosure. If the influencer has been compensated in any way, they need to disclose the relationship as sponsored or as an advertisement. If the content is relevant and engaging, the disclosure will not be a distraction.

Boosting the credibility of B2B content with influence can be complemented with making sure that content is findable. That is where the intersection of SEO and influence come into play.

Search engines like Google have realized long ago that delivering the best search experience correlates with successful advertising engagement. That means the left side organic results and ads alike need to be the best answer for customers.

For brands, delivering a great user experience in search means understanding searcher intent and providing content that meets those expectations at the very moment of need. Modern SEO best practices do exactly that: provide highly specific, useful information that is relevant to the purpose of the customer in solving their problem or meeting their need.

For optimal SEO performance, those best answer content experiences should be delivered with relevant, fast loading pages that are mobile friendly and deemed credible by other websites that link to them. Even better, is when that content is optimized for trust with relevant 3rd party experts.

Effective Content Marketing is about delivering useful information where, when and in the formats that are most meaningful to buyers. Optimizing content for effective discovery, consumption and action according to buyer preferences relies on insights for each of those outcomes. How buyers discover solution content, their preferences for content format, device and topic and the triggers that will motivate action are all insights that can lead to corresponding metrics such as Attract, Engage, and Convert.

For example:
Attract: Organic visibility of target topic content with a high click through rate from Google search results to brand content
Engage: On-topic content consumption, interaction, engagement and low bounce or abandon rates
Convert: Visits that result in relevant action: Subscriptions, downloads, trials, demos, inquiries, sales, referrals

While the marketing world is focused on the many obvious approaches to improving customer experience, those that understand the value of content that is optimized for findability and credibility will realize even greater benefits.

By Lee Odden

Sourced from TopRank Marketing

By Lucas Miller.

More than a few companies have been burned by the wrong approach. Make sure yours isn’t one of them.

Influencer marketing is becoming a fundamental part of many e-commerce brands. In fact, in a recent survey, 92 percent of marketing agencies confirmed its effectiveness. So if nearly everyone agrees it’s important, what do e-commerce brands need to know about this hot topic so they can best take advantage?

1. Influencer marketing reaches further.

Traditional marketing channels have brought success to many companies for decades, but as times change, those channels do not reach as far as they use to. Influencer marketing is able to connect to customers on a deeper level than traditional marketing was ever able to. Even better, it’s capable of accomplishing this on a limited budget.

Customers are unlikely to pay attention to advertising that they believe to be inauthentic. They are much more likely to trust a real person over a brand. This trust is important to build, because many customers will leave a brand they believe is disingenuous.

The price tag for an influencer partnership can vary, but there are options for any budget. In the past, a company could spend millions of dollars to create an advertising campaign that connects with customers. Unless your influencer is a high-profile celebrity, you will not need that kind of cash. If you’re trying to keep costs down, there are many low-profile influencers that can be hired for a fraction of the cost of an ad campaign while still effectively bringing in customers. The ROI for influencer marketing is significantly higher than traditional marketing.

2. Influencers must be relevant.

When finding an influencer to partner with, you must find one with relevance in your industry. It doesn’t matter if a potential influencer has a million followers if their audience is not connected your products. Find someone that resonates with people who will also resonate with your brand.

One individual who certainly understands the principle of finding relevant influencers is Josh Elizetxe, founder and CEO of Snow. Elizetxe is an entrepreneur and internet advertising veteran, and during a recent email conversation about influencer marketing, he told me, “Finding the right partnership lets small companies take on big companies. It allows tiny startups to become lucrative, long-term businesses. It’s all about using the internet to your advantage.”

3. Micro-influencers reach targeted audiences.

The best strategy for using micro-influencers is to segment your customers and choose which segment you want to target, increasing the efficiency of your marketing efforts. Dunkin’ Donuts used the micro-influencer partnership strategy this past year. They also used nano-influencers, which are people with even smaller followings but high influence among that following. Dunkin’ was able to generate $300 million in coffee sales alone with this strategy by  capturing the attention of younger audiences and appearing more relatable to highly targeted groups.

4. Authenticity is key.

In influencer marketing, authenticity is the number-one priority. It’s important to find influencers that truly believe in your product. Customers can see through an influencer who’s promoting a product for a paycheck. This kind of promotion won’t drive sales, and it may even give your brand a bad name.

In 2016, Bootea, a weight loss-shake brand, partnered with Scott Disick, a reality star with a large Instagram following. Unfortunately, Disick copied and pasted the instructions from the brand into his post, and his followers immediately knew the promotion was sponsored. It’s important to find an influencer who will not only appear authentic, but also be authentic.

5. Platform choice is strategic.

There are many platform options for influencer marketing, but it’s imperative to choose one that’s right for your industry and your product. You must understand what platforms your target audience is using and which people on that platform they trust.

Most brands think of Instagram when talking about influencer marketing, but any platform where you can build a large following can be a good choice. Many influencers have gained large followings through YouTube, blogging, Pinterest and, more recently, TikTok.

The most popular platforms are not your only option, though. In fact, sometimes you can reach customers more effectively through less-popular outlets with less competition.

6. Quality matters.

Younger companies, especially new e-commerce brands with small budgets, are frequently tempted into partnering with the least-expensive influencer. Be cautious when doing this, however, because the quality of an influencer’s following matters. Newer influencers sometimes are not as influential as they seem.

Impostors are one of the biggest issues businesses have encountered when looking for low-cost influencers. It’s common for aspiring influencers to buy followers, which makes them appear to have a high level of influence when they don’t. To avoid this problem, read through potential influencers’s content. If engagement levels are lower than expected, some of the followers may be fake or simply unengaged. And in e-commerce, credibility and active engagement are, quite simply, everything.

Feature Image credit: supersizer | Getty Images 

By Lucas Miller

Founder of Echelon Copy LLC

Sourced from Entrepreneur Europe

By Kristina Monllos.

Influencer fraud continues to be a problem for marketers, particularly on Instagram, per a new report.

Despite the company’s efforts to rein in influencer engagement fraud, a report from influencer marketing measurement firm Instascreener has found that fake engagement on Instagram is on the rise again.

According to Instascreener’s data, initially in May after Instagram removed the likes and comments of users from third-party apps, fake influencer engagement rates declined from 1.7% to 1% on certain accounts with the least authentic audiences. But from September to December 2019, the fake engagement rate for those accounts increased from 1% to nearly 1.2% because some influencers who report fake engagement rates were able to figure out workarounds to circumvent Instagram’s methods.

According to agency executives and brand marketers, the problem results from the fact that engagement has been prioritized as the a top metric of success for influencer marketing. Some media buyers and brand marketers say, however, the engagement rate should be considered as only one of many metrics. They said they need to do deeper research to figure out if their influencer marketing practices are working. And marketers said they need to ask influencers to share more of their data directly with advertisers and agencies.

“You can’t necessarily count on Instagram to solve this fake follower program,” said Sean Spielberg, co-founder of Instascreener. “Fake followers and fake engagement is kind of like an arms race. When Instagram creates a new fancy algorithm to detect fraud, someone immediately begins working on ways to get around it,” he added. “Then fraud creeps up again. It won’t ever go to zero if brands and agencies wait for Instagram to solve the problem.”

Instagram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Media buyers told Digiday they are not instructing their clients to pull back from using the platform or influencer marketing. That’s reflected in Instascreener’s report: In 2019 companies spent $1.9 billion on influencer marketing in the U.S. and Canada, with $1.4 billion of that going to influencer marketing on Instagram. Yet, as much as $255 million of the $1.4 billion spent on Instagram was lavished on accounts with fake followers, per Instascreener.

“Engagement fraud is definitely a concern amongst brands and agencies alike,” said a media buyer at a digital agency who requested anonymity. “That said, we have not recommended — nor do we typically see — brands shying away from influencer tactics solely because of engagement fraud concerns.”

Instead of shying away from influencer marketing, media buyers and brand marketers are deeming engagement just one factor in their decision to select influencers to work with rather than the sole reason. “We still use engagement rate as a metric of success,” said a marketer at a major consumer packaged goods company that uses influencers.

“All of us marketers are trying to figure out what is the right metric in the space,” she continued. “We look at likes and comments diagnostically, but we have much more advanced measurements that are closer linked to sales that we leverage as well.” This marketer declined to share which advanced measurements her company relies on to measure the success of influencer marketing.

“Engagement is still an important metric because we want to make sure that our influencer partners are driving conversations with their followers about our brands,” wrote Kristin Maverick, 360i’s vp of social and influencer marketing at 360i, in an email. “We dig into comments to see if the brand is resonating with an influencer’s audience and driving consideration and conversion.”

She added, “But, we also look at other metrics to tell the full story. We use a mix of tools such as tracking sales data from DCM tracking on our clients’ e-commerce sites, discount codes and paid social results.”

Vickie Segar, founder of influencer marketing shop Village Marketing, said the engagement rate is the wrong measurement for marketers to use in measuring  influencer marketing effectiveness. Instead, Segar said marketers should ask influencers to share story views and sticker taps. Segar’s clients also use affiliate codes, enablingmarketers to attribute sales data to influencer marketing.

“Influencer marketing is an industry where people are so confused by the scale,” Segar said. “It’s really hard to look at an influencer and understand what they are doing [for a client]. Marketers need to ask the right questions to fight fraud. Ask for screen grabs of past stories and [length of] story view averages. Ask for one from last week and a month ago.”

Other media buyers said that agencies and advertisers need to adjust how they think about influencer marketing altogether. Instead of using influencers’ on Instagram to realize a direct sale at a particular moment, companies should keep a more “long-term focus” and use influencers’ activity to understand more about their brands and what their consumers want, said Lauren Dubinsky, director of social media for The Variable. That’s something the Clorox Company might be trying to achieve right now as it develops an influencer advisory council.

Shifting their focus to analyze longer-term metrics could be critical for marketers. “In the world of influencer marketing, brand and creator relationships are still key,” said the media buyer. “If a brand can find an advocate who they know has a qualified, passionate audience, engaging in long-term relationships with that creator can lead to better content and confidence in knowing their dollars are not being wasted.”

By Kristina Monllos

Sourced from DIGIDAY

By Cheryl Robinson.

Is influencer marketing becoming a strategy of the past? Are influencers worth what brands pay them to endorse their products? 

LMS, an influencer and social media agency, founded by Denise Lambertson, chairwoman, with partners Tim Lambertson, co-CEO, and Kelli Reyes, co-CEO, has proven that influencer marketing is providing the startup community the power to reach a larger audience. What sets LMS’ strategy apart from other agencies is the fact that all three partners’ experience in the entertainment industry before starting the agency has driven their business decisions. Before introducing brands to influencers, the product has to align with the influencer’s values and a product that they will actually use. The endorsement of products from the influencers needs to be authentic.

Established in 2009, LMS operated in the influencer marketing space before the term was coined what it is today. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, just in the last 12 months, 320 new influencer marketing-focused platforms and agencies entered the market, and the 2019 industry is estimated to have reached $6.5 billion. For LMS, it has over 35 thousand influencers in its network, and in 2019 alone, its influencer campaigns have generated over 30 million impressions and 1.3 million engagements.

“We quickly realized that influencers were not willing to work with brands who did not have a well built out social media account, specifically on Instagram,” Tim explains. “Instagram was a validator for the quality of the company. We started hiring and building out a social media team.”

“That’s what people get excited to share,” Denise adds, “is something that they’ve discovered and they love. When you’re talking about really big brands, that discovery element is kind of gone. Also in this era, there’s a lot of mistrust of those big brands. The consumers, and therefore the influencers, are like, ‘what is this new, cool thing that is taking the place of this product that in my life I’ve grown to mistrust by this company that I no longer feel connected to?…How is this company doing it differently? I love it so much. How can I share it?’ That just lends itself really well to the startup community.”

All the partners understood the value of networking and building a positive reputation. It has been through their connections that they have built the cornerstone of their company. Prior to LMS, Denise interned for a film production company owned by Madonna before transitioning over to Madonna’s team as her executive assistant. During her time as an intern, she met Reyes. At the time that they met, Reyes was already working for Madonna’s manager.

Reyes explains, “I was really drawn to the tour industry. I had never really thought about that for myself. I ended up staying in music and touring with different artists for several years on the artist side. During the mid-2000s, brands were really starting to get smart about implementing themselves into tours, especially seeing the experiential space in the concourse; you have a captive audience before the show and intermissions to be able to talk to them about your brand. I was working for Maroon 5, and Verizon sponsored the tour. After that, the brand team came to me and asked if I would like to manage tours from the brand side.”

Tim’s experience in entertainment began as an assistant in a management office. He then started handling licensing deals for A-list musicians and other artists on the roster. Part of his responsibility was doing A&R (talent scouting) to expand the client roster. On the side, he worked as a digital marketer for a Grammy Award-winning DJ production duo and ultimately began working at a record label. When Denise had the opportunity to move to London while working for Madonna, Tim moved as well. While on a music video set, he met Tracy Anderson, a professional fitness trainer. He left the record label and managed Anderson’s enterprise, everything from fitness DVD’s, production, and studios to business management and appearances.

After transitioning out of Madonna’s management team, Denise consulted for various startups, which made her realize that companies were more interested in who she could connect them with. Her experiences with startups sparked the idea of connecting brands with celebrities.

Fast forward to the end of 2019; the partners have grown their company to over 40 employees and have orchestrated some of the largest endorsement deals in the industry from the Beyonce and WTRMLN WTR deal to the Ellie Goulding and CORE partnership. The LMS programming contributed to the acquisition of CORE by Keurig Dr. Pepper at a purchase price of $525 million. The partners facilitated a partnership between Jillian Michaels and Thrive Market. The promotion generated by Michaels’ Thrive Market activation generated 60 thousand registrants within 60 days.

Throughout the years, LMS has had to pivot their approach to employee retention, reframe the company’s story, and how they initiate the conversation between influencers and brands (mainly how they set the clients expectations). With each pivot the partners focus on these essential steps:

  • Don’t wait for the perfect moment to pivot. There’s never going to be a perfect moment. When you’ve mapped out your course, have some money in the bank and feel scared, that is the moment to leap.
  • Be prepared to run. You can’t pivot and then gingerly walk towards your goals. You have to be ready to sprint.
  • Take the risk. Learn to fail quickly and move on. The risks take you further along the path of your goals than remaining in the comfort zone.

“I think that our failures have led us to be able to be more risk-takers,” Tim concludes. “I think in business where we are right now, especially on the forefront of marketing and digital marketing, if you’re not willing to take a risk, and then have that backfire, or fail in a way, then you’re going to be missing what the latest greatest thing is. This whole business is risky.”

Feature Image Credit: Founders and Partners of influencer and social media agency LMS. From left, Kelli Reyes, co-CEO, Denise Lambertson, chairwoman, and Tim Lambertson, co-CEO. Leslie Hassler, 2019

By Cheryl Robinson.

Sourced from Forbes

By

There’s no other way to say it: If you’re doing influencer marketing in 2019, there’s a decent chance it sucks. And it’s time for an honest conversation. So, let me restate: There is a lot of bad influencer marketing out there. The industry is full of celebrity-level social media personalities who charge a fortune for insincere product endorsements, blatant cash-grab posts that come across like low-budget commercials, and brands that are dazzled by follower counts rather than real engagement. And this is not likely to change unless we get back to what made influencer marketing amazing in the first place.

Back in the early 2000s, the notion of social networks hadn’t taken hold yet. Blogging-specific resources and platforms were on the rise, however, and I was one of many who embraced these emerging technologies in order to share my thoughts and connect with like-minded people online.

Typepad, Diaryland, Diary-X, LiveJournal: We used these platforms to carve out spaces for expressing the joys and frustrations of our daily lives. Many of us were young parents, and blogging was more than a hobby — it was an outlet, a way to access a digital village of support and commiseration. This so-called “mommy blogging” trend eventually paved the way for today’s influencer marketing industry.

There was a sort of magic to those early days of blogging when sharing one’s innermost thoughts with the push of a button was a novelty rather than a given — from swapping war stories, intimate confessions, moments of hilarity — and talking about recent purchases in mind-bending detail.

It doesn’t sound particularly exciting now, but this is when brands started paying attention. Because these conversations were driving sales. Suddenly, a recommendation from a well-read blog could empty a store’s inventory overnight. Because product reviews and recommendations were a natural extension of blogging. And it was fun — fun to try a new moisturizer that a stranger in Iowa loved, or a baby carrier worn in a photo that everyone pounced on (“Wow, who makes that?”). It was fun to discover new things, or even better, solve someone’s problem with a pitch-perfect suggestion.

When did it stop being fun? No question about it: when money got involved. As blogging matured and changed, so, too, did the options for monetization. First came the banner ads, which mostly lurked in website sidebars before creeping into more intrusive locations. In 2006, BlogHer announced its blog ad network at its San Jose conference. It probably sounds crazy now, but that launch was incredibly controversial at the time. Many of the women in attendance felt that monetization was going to kill everything that was special about the community. If I’m being honest, I thought those cynics were being ridiculous. But sure enough, display advertising gave way to sponsorships, and before you knew it every confessional blog post seemed to include an awkward brand segue. Some were pretty lame, too: This sad story about my dying grandma brought to you by ChompsGood Dog Food!

Fast-forward to 2019, in our highly-connected world brimming over with clickbait, #ads and #sponcon. Personal blogging has largely evolved from long-form essays to mobile-friendly listicle posts and image-centric social media content. An entire industry has risen around online personalities promoting products. But this industry is going to suffer the same fate as traditional advertising if we can’t recapture some of the reasons that made it successful in the first place.

These days, consumers are growing weary of endless endorsements and celebrity-level influencers shilling everything from laxative teas to dubious-sounding island music festivals. People are suspicious of influencer fraud, and frankly, we’re tired of seeing Instagram models perched on inflatable swans hawking flavored seltzer water.

It’s time for brands and influencers alike to make influencer marketing fun again. How does this happen?

Step One: Find the passion. Find the passionate people — creators and brands alike — who give a damn about forging real connections and providing actual value to engaged audiences. Find the people who care more about relationships and less about follower numbers.

Step Two: Forge partnerships that actually make sense. Look, if you’re Pepsi and you want to work with Kendall Jenner, fine. (Just maybe don’t trivialize a serious social and political movement while doing so.) But most brands should be looking for influencers whose interests and values align with their own.

Step Three: Stop the BS. Stop the flat tummy product shout-outs, the poor (or missing) FTC disclosures, the cringingly overly-staged photos, and the accounts that are more about advertising and less about authenticity.

Influencer marketing doesn’t have to be one more bummer byproduct of an overly-commercialized internet. Just like the old days, influencer-shared recommendations and brand messaging can be a natural, enjoyable part of our content consumption rather than yet another disruptive, shallow ad experience. Make audiences the priority and deliver something of value, and the money will follow.

Feature Image Credit: Getty

By

Founder and CEO of Sway Group, an influencer marketing agency in the SF Bay Area.

Sourced from Forbes

By

Measuring attribution and return on investment remains a key challenge when marketing with influencers—which means that it can be hard to quantify the merits of utilizing them. But neuroscience research from the UK, showing cognitive responses to traditional marketing vs. influencer posts, may provide some answers.

In May 2019, influencer agency Whalar and neuroanalytics firm Neuro-Insight analyzed reactions to influencer ads from UK social media users ages 18 to 65. The study looked at subjects’ “emotional intensity” and “memory encoding.” Respectively, these terms were defined as the strength of the emotion being felt and as the experience of committing something to long-term memory.

The research showed that influencer ads generated 277% greater emotional intensity and 87% higher memory encoding in participants than TV ads did. Influencer ads were also similarly more effective than Facebook and YouTube ads, particularly when it came to memory encoding.

Impact of Influencer Ads Compared to Ads on TV, Facebook and YouTube Among UK Social Media Users, May 2019

Shazia Ginai, CEO of Neuro-Insight, explained to us that emotional intensity and memory encoding were measured using headsets with sensors placed on the areas of the brain specifically responsible for those cognitive functions. “Our brains are very specialized, so these responses can be measured with confidence,” she said.

Researchers also took a look at the effect of “priming,” or the act of one stimulus subconsciously influencing how people respond to subsequent stimuli. When respondents viewed branded influencer content prior to seeing a non-influencer ad for the same company, their reaction was often more positive compared with those who had not seen an influencer ad beforehand.

The study produced similar results for influencer-primed linear TV ads: a 13% positive response (also referred to as “approach”), 103% greater emotional intensity and 58% higher memory encoding. On the other hand, influencer-primed YouTube ads showed heightened approach (63%), but they resulted in just 16% higher memory encoding and a 26% decrease in emotional intensity.

Impact of Influencer Priming* on TV, Facebook and YouTube Ads Among UK Social Media Users, May 2019

Influencers with audiences of varying sizes were also found to be more or less effective in different cognitive areas. Microinfluencers, who have between 100,000 and 500,000 followers, solicited the highest degree of approach. Participants’ emotional intensity and memory encoding registered at 62% and 55%, respectively, above ads within general content. (“General content” being that found on TV, Facebook and YouTube.)

Impact of Influencer Ads Among UK Social Media Users, by Influencer Category, May 2019

When respondents saw celebrity influencers, the memory encoding was 74% higher than it was during their general browsing state. However, their approach was down 54% compared with their reactions to general ad content, indicating that celebrity influencer ads were memorable for negative reasons.

By

Sourced from eMarketer

By

Instagram recently added new countries to its test in which it’s hiding the number of likes a given post gets from everyone except that post’s creator. Social networks are constantly testing new concepts, but the fact that this test has expanded indicates how seriously they are considering it, with the main goal being to take the social pressure off acquiring likes.

Some have worried that hiding likes from public view would hurt influencer marketing, as influencers are judged, at least in part, on their ability to get people to react to the content they produce. Here are four reasons why I believe influencer marketing will be just fine without the ability for the public to view how many likes their content receives:

1. Professional influencer marketers don’t look at public view counts.

All the social networks have APIs that let other software ingest the like count on the posts they are most interested in. With this ability, we can look at performance across a wide array of influencers and their posts very quickly and even make on-the-fly calculations in terms of engagement rates, cost per engagement and more. Only part-time influencer marketing folks are manually scrolling through accounts looking for the posts they care about.

2. The like isn’t going away.

Whether we should or not, humans feel a certain positive way when they get another like on their post. While hiding these numbers could certainly remove the pressure of “only having five likes” that we’ve all felt, getting those likes still feels good. Even more importantly, engagement on what we post is the fundamental signal to the Instagram algorithm of what we like to see more of. By the simple act of liking, we’re telling the algorithm who we want to see more often, whether we like video or not, and much more. Barring a seismic reinvention, the social networks can’t eliminate the “like” as the easiest way for us to give a nod back to our friends’ posts.

3. Engagement rate is relative.

While hiding public like counts will almost certainly decrease the total number of likes on the social network, influencers and content are compared against each other in terms of efficiency. So, if an average post once got 100 likes and that drops to 80 likes, the entire scale of what’s good shifts along with it.

4. We’ve moved beyond likes for measuring success.

Just a few years ago, we were reporting “engagements” back to clients as among the metrics showing the success of a given campaign. Today, however, we’re much more focused on measuring business results from influencer marketing programs. Many of our campaigns drive web traffic and measure that traffic all the way through to sales. For retail campaigns, we’re still often tracking sale lift against a benchmark period to measure success. Improvements in measuring influencer marketing are accelerating rapidly and the few left only measuring engagements are likely going to be left behind anyway.

Social networks will continue to make changes to their platforms. When I formed my company in 2007, there were no brand pages and no ways to run paid ads. You couldn’t even upload a video. Today there is another rumor that Instagram is running a test that will hide follower counts. As social networks make these adjustments in ways that favor quality content in front of people who care about it most, high-quality influencer marketing will have a place. After all, inspirational and aspirational content fosters brand discovery online and that is among the things people very much enjoy about social networks and the content we see there.

Feature Image Credit: Getty

By

Jim Tobin is President of Carusele, a leading influencer marketing agency, and CEO of Ignite Social Media, the original social media agency.

Sourced from Forbes

By Pam Moore

Influencer marketing is expected to be a $6.5 billion dollar industry in 2019. This is up from $1.7 billion in 2016.

Influence marketing is helping brands of all sizes big and small engage their dream customers, ignite communities, increase brand awareness and nurture powerful relationships. If you haven’t heard about influence marketing you must have been hiding under a rock.

As with anything in marketing, there are some marketers doing it right and are others who ruin it for the rest of us. Some are burning more bridges than they are building. Many are doing it without truly understanding the extent to which they are damaging relationships.

There are also agencies who claim to help brands big and small build relationships with an influencer marketing program. However, they wound up falling to spammy tactics and end up hurting the brand reputation without the brand marketer even knowing.

Every brand touch is an impression of your brand. If an agency or a member of your team is spamming the contact boxes of top industry or even micro-influencers with copy / paste spam messages begging for free tweets, I can guarantee they are hurting your brand more than helping you.

Influencer marketing is not about getting free tweets, Instagram story shoutouts and coverage.

Influencer marketing is not the same as earned media. Earned media = media you actually do something to earn. Many brands trick themselves into believing that they can skip valuing the influencers time investment in community as they lump it into “earned media.”

Agencies and Brand Need to Stop the Unethical Spam Tactics

Brand leaders need to get real, acknowledge spamming contact forms for free tweets, shoutouts and product reviews is not marketing!

Agencies that are falling to these lazy tactics in representation of the brand they represent need to quit damaging the brand reputation and trust of the clients who are trusting them. These brands are paying agencies to help them build relationships, not damage them through a series of spam and begging tactics. This is not earned media, paid media or influencer marketing, it’s spammed reputation damage.

You will get out of influencer marketing what you put into it

You will get out of influencer marketing what you put into it. If you invest time as a human in building relationships the payoff can be big. However, many brands fall to the spammy tactics and then blame it on the fact that influencer marketing isn’t working. The truth is the person running the program never took the time to learn the strategies and tactics that really work. They often skip researching influencers and send a generic blanket email or contact form desperately begging for free amplification.

Instead, brand and social marketing leaders wanting to test the waters with influencer marketing must always also think… “what is in it for the influencer?” How can I bring them mass value in working with our brand. The most successful influencer programs are when there is a partnership, when the brand and the influencer have common ground, beliefs, interests and a base to build a relationship. This is much of why micro-influencer marketing can be so successful for even brands with small budgets.

I developed episode 121 of the Social Zoom Factor podcast with a goal to help marketers brand new to influence marketing as well as seasoned veterans get the most out of their influence marketing programs.

The goal of this episode is to save you wasted time and help ensure you are establishing trust and a brand of integrity as you build, launch and execute your influencer marketing program.

I share with you tips in this podcast from my experience in working with brands of all sizes from startups to Fortune 100 brands helping them develop and execute influence marketing programs as well as from being an influencer myself. We get contacted by at minimum 10-20 brands per week wanting us to be an influencer for their brand.

In this 30 Minute Episode You Will Learn: 

  • Why and how brands are confusing spam with influence marketing
  • How to choose the right influencers and avoid choosing the wrong influencers
  • Importance of doing your research on influencers before reaching out to them
  • The importance of the influencer being able to drive real action to help you achieve your business goals
  • Why trust matters with influencers
  • Building your team to succeed with influence marketing
  • How to create value for the influencer as a top priority
  • Importance of connecting the influencer with other people at your in person events
  • Importance of respecting the influencer as a human being, not as a number to help you simply amplify your message
  • How to decide if you should compensate influencers for their time

Supporting Resources:

Need help taking your brand to the next level? Social Profit Factor Training Academy and Marketing Nutz Can Help! 

Social Profit Factor can help you ignite your content and brand architecture to grow your online tribe and business with social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. 2019 is where those who have simply been “hustling” to get by realize they must hustle and work smarter. Before you even think about posting that video on Facebook you must know who you are, what your audience needs from you and how your efforts are going to deliver value for your audience and your business.

Need help honing in your influencer marketing plan, branding strategy, architecture, message platform, online presence,  or launching a new product or service? Want to leverage social media, digital marketing and branding to grow your business? Our agency, Marketing Nutz can help you build, launch and  optimize your digital and social brand presence to achieve your goals. Give us a shout and let’s get to work!

By Pam Moore

CEO / Founder Marketing Nutz, full service social media, digital marketing, experiential brand, conversion optimization agency. Ranked by Forbes as Top 10 Social Media Women and 10 Social Media Power Influencer. Keynote speaker, author, strategist, consultant, coach, & trainer. Helps businesses of all sizes integrate social media into the DNA of their business, connect with target audiences to nurture authentic customer relationships. 15+ years experience working with Fortune 500, Franchised corporations with 4000+ local franchises to entrepreneurs and startups.

By marismith

Influencer marketing has evolved rapidly over the last few years. In fact, influencer marketing has become such a key growth strategy for businesses that the industry is estimated to reach up to $10 billion by 2020.

For a long time, influencer marketing was mostly associated with big brands and celebrities. The landscape is changing and, as individuals invest in building niche communities on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, businesses are beginning to recognize their value.

We are now seeing a new wave of micro-influencers leading the way, not only for the big brands but for small businesses looking to capitalize on the trend. 2019 Statistics show that 81% of all influencers are micro-influencers.

This has created a level playing field for small businesses with an opportunity to drive sales even in a local market.

In this article, I’m going to show you how you and your business can get started with micro-influencer marketing.

What Is A Micro-Influencer?

Just as it sounds, a micro influencer is a person that may not have the largest following on social media but the following they do have is highly engaged. This person has a lot of influence among their community and, as a result, that community is highly likely to listen and act when a value proposition is presented to them.

Eighty one percent of micro-influencers have between 15k and 100k followers but don’t let this deter you from partnering with audience sizes as little as 5000 followers.  A report by Gartner L2 showed there is actually an inverse correlation between the number of followers and the engagement rate in Instagram influencers.

This highlights a critical factor in the success of micro-influencer marketing. It’s not just about the size of an influencer’s audience, the quality of the audience is just as important.

What are the benefits of working with a Micro-Influencer?

It’s A Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy

One of the biggest challenges that businesses face is finding their target audience and earning their attention. To do this exclusively in-house can be costly and extremely time-consuming. It can take months, if not years, to build an engaged audience who buys into your messaging and your product offering.

Micro-influencers have already done all the work. You have instant access to a highly-engaged, targeted audience. That’s hugely valuable especially in a local market.

While some micro-influencers still accept product in exchange for their endorsement, most now require compensation for their work.

The cost of influencer marketing varies greatly based on a number of factors including the influencer’s social reach, the type of sponsored content and the length/ frequency of your arrangement.

A report by Later (2018) stated 66% of businesses paid under $250 per influencer post, while 27% paid between $250 and $1000 per post.

Influencer Marketing Hub created an Instagram Money Calculator to help calculate how much an influencer’s post is worth. Whilst this shouldn’t be used to define an influencer’s compensation plan, it can provide a generalized overview. For the most part, micro-influencers will have their own media kits and pricing structures in place.

As a general guide, you can expect to pay anywhere between $75 and $2000 per post depending on the value that micro-influencer brings.

With that in mind, micro-influencers can be far more cost-effective than if a business were to grow organically by themselves.

Social Proof leads to Sales

Sixty one percent of consumers aged 18 to 34 have, at some point, been swayed in their decision-making by digital influencers.

Micro-influencers have already earned trust among their community. That social proof carries a lot of value when it comes to the follower making a positive buying decision.

Fullscreen, a global leader in social-first entertainment and branded content, partnered with leading social analytics firm Shareablee, to analyze 31,000 influencers. In their report, they discovered 22% of 18-34 year-olds have made a large purchase after seeing an online influencer endorsing the item. With the right micro-influencer(s) working with you, this strategy has the potential to generate large returns on your investment.

Influencer Marketing is Scalable

Micro-influencers act like your own marketing and sales team combined. They have their own audiences and they know what works in terms of engaging and converting that audience into sales. Brand campaigns driven by micro-influencers are estimated to create 60% higher engagement rates.

Micro-influencers don’t require the management of an inhouse team and they already have a community of warm leads. Deploying effective marketing campaigns and consistently generating leads are two of the biggest challenges small business owners face, which makes micro-influencers a huge asset to small businesses especially on a local level.

Influencer marketing is scalable. While it requires a financial investment, the right micro-influencers will quickly generate a return and dramatically build your brand’s awareness and reputation.

How to Get Started Working with Micro-Influencers

Getting started with micro-influencers is simple but not always easy. Here is a basic checklist for you to follow:

      1. Create a strategic plan with clear objectives you want to achieve.
      2. Make a list of potential micro-influencers to start exploring.
      3. Reach out to start building a relationship. Make sure your approach is very win/win as the micro-influencer may receive numerous invitations to partner with brands on a regular basis.
      4. Invite the micro-influencer to consider collaborating with your business.
      5. Draw out a written plan with clear terms and conditions to protect both parties.
      6. Set a time period initially to establish success markers.

This sounds straightforward, but it does require a lot of work and there are a few best practices to follow.

Best Practices for Micro-Influencer Marketing

1. Find Relevant Influencers

It’s really important to keep your end goal in mind when it comes to finding influencers with whom you can partner. You’re not looking for just anyone, even if they have an engaged audience. It has to be the right demographics that fit your target audience.

Positioning is key. You are looking for local influencers who have a loyal following that matches your target market.

This way, when the influencer presents your business and call to action, you are going to see some traction and a profitable return on your investment.

The easiest way to find relevant influencers is to spend time researching the platform on which you and your audience is most active. Search locations, hashtags and mentions to find out where the conversations are happening. Once you find potential micro-influencers, monitor their profile and their interactions closely. Look for the quantity but more importantly the quality of engagement on each post.

By investing time up front, you will ensure that you find micro-influencers that are a good fit for your business. Not only will it save you time long-term, it can save you a lot of money working with people who aren’t a fit and perhaps don’t carry the influence you initially thought.

2. Ensure the Authenticity of Micro-Influencers

As influencer marketing has grown, so have the number of companies looking to capitalize on the trend. In 2018, the extent of influencer fraud was exposed as thousands of accounts were found to be buying likes, follows and engagement to appear as though they had gained influencer status.

Captive8 reported that of the $2.1bn spent on influencer-sponsored Instagram posts in 2017, more than 11% of engagement on those posts was generated from fraudulent accounts.

This is a big problem. While technology companies are working to combat this by launching AI-focused tools, influencer marketing fraud still remains a huge issue.

Ninety percent of Marketers believe proving authenticity is critical to the future of Influencer Marketer.

For you, as a reputable business, it’s imperative that you do your research and establish the validity of an influencer before jumping into a relationship with them.

Monitor their account, check the quality of their audience and their engagement. Look for sponsored posts and how the traction gained in quality likes and comments.

When reaching out, ask for case studies and past results that you can cross-check. Also ensure that the micro-influencer is following FTC Guidelines.

It’s important to keep in mind that micro-influencers want to ensure the authenticity of your brand and products. Influencers promote what they trust. Take time to share with them and provide samples when appropriate. Micro-influencers have earned a loyal audience and protecting that audience is their responsibility.

3. Measuring the ROI of Micro-Influencers

One of the biggest challenges for businesses investing in micro-influencers is measuring the return on investment. As a business owner, you want to know that your marketing strategy is working and delivering results.

Eighty five percent of marketers say engagement data is the biggest metric of success for influencer marketing. Forty six percent of marketers are using product sales to measure the success of influencer marketing.

Both are valid measures. These are three key areas you want to track:

        1. Engagement:cThis is typically measured in new followers, likes, comments, shares, mentions, and all other forms of engagement with your business as a result of working with a micro-influencer. The return here is in brand awareness and growth. You should see a spike in engagement each time the micro-influencer shares your brand. This is a simple way to visually see the impact your micro-influencer has.
        2. Content: This metric is made up of comments, shares and sentiment of the paid posts. It helps establish whether the content fits with the audience and the objective. This may be an indication to try a different type or style of content that may resonate better.
        3. Sales: You can track this by providing affiliate urls, influencer exclusive discount codes and monitoring google analytics so that you can measure the sales each micro-influencer has brought to your business.

If you’re a small business owner, micro-influencer marketing can offer a lot of value and certainly has the potential to drive big sales in your local market. It just takes the right research, the right influencer, and the right partnership.

By marismith

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

Sourced from Bank of America

By

Social media started out with Myspace and Bebo (oh the nostalgia) before graduating to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Here we are now in 2019, ‘hashtagging’ and ‘storying’ like it’s nobody’s business.

What’s next for the social media industry?

1. A shift in focus: less on feeds, more on private messages

The feed is such an integral part of social media networks that it could never just vanish overnight. Regardless, people are using social media more and more as a way to get in touch with people and have instant message conversations.

To remove the feed entirely could be problematic though. The feed is the main source of incoming for many social media networks as most people will spend their dwelling time here. It’s also used as a key space for advertising. With visual formats such as Stories and Facebook Watch gaining speed, it’s likely that advertising will inhabit these forms in the absence of a feed. After all, IGTV is in the midst of discussions on adding advertisements to the content as we speak.

We have no doubt that the feed will start to play a smaller role in the growth of social media networks, but it’s here to stay for a long while yet.

2. Despite numerous industry worries, influencers aren’t going away

2018 / 2019 has been a tricky time for influencers with a lot of bad press and finger-pointing documentaries. However, not all influencers are deserving of the bad rep.

Influencers who are troublesome in the industry will become extinct over the next few years. Their followers will lose trust and begin to diminish, while brands will ‘wise-up’ to influencer red flags and learn how to find influencers who will work more effectively with their brand.

Although social media networks are still likely to be saturated with #ad and influencers galore, it’s not really the end of the world. If trustworthy and authentic influencers are all that reminds then the odd paid promotion will be much less problematic than it is today.

One trend we expect to see more of very soon is brand marketers educating themselves more about the influencer marketing supply chain. This will enable them to only work with influencers who promote their brand effectively and actually sell their product. Watch this space for further developments.

3. Brands will be making more of an effort to plan their content and be more consistent across channels

As social media continues to be an incredibly saturated space, the quality of content must also rise.

Brands that are smart will invite a social media specialist to take a look at what they’re currently doing, as well as give advice on where social media (and the internet in general) is headed. This will enable them to get a leg-up on future trends and plan ahead for the next five years.

Brands not able to identify what works for their business will lose customers to their competitors.

Plan, execute, analyse and repeat what works.

4. Small communities will trump big networks for most businesses (even more than they already do)

We all know that Facebook Groups and messaging apps have become so very popular over the last couple of years as a way to unite people with similar interests in thousands of niche topics. Whatever your tipple, there’s a group for it, filled with like-minded individuals posed for a heated discussion.

The general public is bored of seeing the same story over and over again. But having the context of a group changes things. A post about a new coffee shop only becomes interesting and relevant to you when it’s posted within a Facebook Group specific to your location.

Furthermore, the average person is usually more comfortable participating in conversations and sharing opinions within a smaller community, without fear of judgement from the entire world wide web. This ‘safe space’ atmosphere will continue to help groups become a hub of activity and engagement.

One thing that won’t change is that social media is the cheapest, fastest and the most scalable marketing channel available to most companies. That isn’t going away, period.

Welcome to the next five years of social media marketing.

By

Sourced from The Drum