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Here’s a breakdown of how both platforms compare and what makes each one stand out in the influencer marketing space.

If you’re responsible for keeping your brand focused on the right social platforms and leveraging the right influencer partnerships, you’ve probably spent some time wondering whether you should focus on TikTok or Instagram.

TikTok and Instagram both offer distinct attractions for their users. While both are visual, TikTok is more audio and music-driven and has a more creative and spontaneous feel to much of its content. Instagram, on the other hand, is a more established platform with a more polished aesthetic. Because of its longevity, a sophisticated advertising and influencer network has developed on its ecosystem, which can make it easier to venture into known-commodity partnerships with influencers.

Where are your time and resources best spent, and what differentiates the two? The right answer often differs for each brand and that the difference depends on their audience and goals.

What’s your target audience demographic?

The platform you prefer may vary depending on which types of users you’re seeking to connect with. TikTok’s overall audience skews younger, with half of all Gen Z American adults accessing the platform, as compared to only 22 percent of millennials and 14 percent of the 50-64 cohort.

Instagram has a wider user base among all demographics, with 48 percent of 30-49 year olds on the platform and a third of the 50-64 age range. Its growth has stabilized and it’s not experiencing the same rapid user base expansion as TikTok.

How are you hoping to get seen?

Instagram has an advantage on influencer choice, because the network is more established and there are more influencers working there. Because Instagram has been an influencer option for a while, influencers may have a formula in place and be more certain about tried-and-true ways to gain attention from their specific audiences.

Sponsored content and advertising make frequent and expected appearances in Instagram users’ news feeds, while on TikTok, only 5.7% of content creators post about brands, products, or services on a daily basis. That number grows to just 17.3% on a weekly basis, with 60.8% of content creators reporting that they have never shared sponsored content on the app, as per our most recent research where we polled 1,743 influencers from more than 20 countries. This is, by far, one of TikTok’s greatest advantages and presents a great opportunity for marketers looking to capture people’s attention in a less saturated space.

Which metrics are you using to gauge success?

TikTok’s structure and users’ top content interests (#comedy and #dance) mean marketing efforts need to be more subtle, humorous and creative to attract interest. It’s not the platform for a hard sell nor for brands who want to have tight and rigid control of influencer content.

However, it is the ideal place to level up on organic engagement and to create relationships that may boost loyalty and migrate followers over to your other social platforms. In fact, 87.1 percent of TikTok influencers and content creators say their engagement rate is higher than on other platforms.

TikTok’s potential reach also far outstrips any other social platform because its algorithm doesn’t limit views, so if you’re planning campaigns that grow reach and awareness, TikTok might be the best place for your influencer marketing efforts.

If your focus is on a quicker sales cycle or moving your target audience from the middle to the bottom of the sales funnel, you may be better off with a consistent storytelling strategy on Instagram Stories where you link directly to your landing page or ecommerce site.

How well-versed are you in influencer marketing?

Do you already have an established influencer program, or are you just getting started? Your own knowledge level may influence the direction you lean with your platform choice.

If you’re accustomed to working with influencers and have a good grasp on your goals and metrics, you may feel ready to venture directly on to TikTok. You’ll know where you need to go and what you need to do, and you can guide the partnership based on your previous experience, especially if you use an influencer database to source the right people for your niche.

If you’re new to the influencer marketing world, you may want to leverage the knowledge of Instagram influencer partners.

Instagram influencers we surveyed said they typically spend at least three hours daily using the platform, which means they likely have their audiences’ likes, dislikes, and propensities down to a science. If you can source the right influencers for your campaigns, you can rely on them to serve as co-strategists as you plan your new influencer marketing campaigns.

In our recent study on TikTok influencer marketing, marketers surveyed said that analytics and tracking is one of their biggest TikTok challenge areas. If you’re confident in your influencer marketing knowledge, and you’re willing to experiment a little, you can easily and creatively overcome these challenges and get attention in a less saturated market.

Is there a clear winner for brands building an influencer marketing strategy?

In the battle for brand positioning, there’s no clear winner between these two powerhouse platforms. Instead, you can find the right place to showcase your business when you think strategically and evaluate which media sources your ideal buyer consumes.

Not many things in business come down to feeling alone, but you can evaluate which brand feels like a natural fit based on the criteria we mentioned, then continue to adjust while monitoring performance data.

You may find that one platform is clearly right for your brand or you may see opportunities to connect with your target audience across both. As each platform refines its offerings, algorithm, and business-focused features, you can continue to experiment accordingly with your strategy.

And, if you find you’re ready to dive into something new, TikTok can provide a welcome platform for experimentation. By getting your brand in the space, you can see where content is resonating for your audiences, define your goals, then align with the right creators and make a splash.

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Sourced from Entrepreneur Europe

This woman was influencing me across social media platforms for the best part of a decade. She once influenced me to buy a Fitbit that I never used. I watched her relationship form and marriage crumble and was influenced to feel a great deal of sympathy for her. I saw her decorate her house in meticulous detail, reminding me that I too wanted to one day buy a property, and influencing me to feel shameful about the fact I can’t (and to also make a mental note that I need a Smeg fridge).
Then she posted a video like many others have – women in particular – about “influencer” being a shameful word and that she didn’t want to associate with it. What a curious thing to say, I thought, when I couldn’t think of a better word to describe her. 

You’ve probably seen crotchety British Gen Xers on social media say a variant of “everyone’s an influencer now”. What they really mean is that everyone is too online and has a personal brand, always pushing something, whether it’s their opinions or their work; a persona that’s only loosely related to the person you know or suspect them to be in real life. But it’s also true that “influencer” is now a sweeping term that is used to mean anything from “aspirational career path to riches”  to “talentless internet shill for brands”, depending on how old or how online (or not) the individual using it is.

“‘Influencer’ is a weird term in that it both works perfectly – in that the direct connection online celebrities and creators have with their audience makes them more influential and able to affect the likelihood of purchases – and is also essentially so broad as to be meaningless,” tech journalist and author Chris Stokel-Walker tells me. Does it mean your sister who recently signed up to an MLM business flogging essential oil blends, or your Dad sharing anti-vax memes with all his Facebook friends? The way people use the word colloquially now, who can say?

I suspect much of this amorphousness is down to the power of the word “influencer” in the first place. It says “I can make you do what I want”. It has clout and energy. You can also “influence” anyone in any manner of ways – emotionally, psychologically. In 2019, the year the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary added “influencer” to its lexicon, its editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski explained to AdWeek that “all of us are consumers, even if all we are consuming is information”.

We’re not just being sold influencers’ ads – we willingly sell our attention and engagement in increasingly obtuse but intense ways. As Stokel-Walker points out: “In the dictionary definition of the term, people who have clout with their audience are influencers – in that they can influence people to do things, or to buy products if they choose.” It’s little wonder we throw the word around so carelessly.

Influencing has existed as a concept for as long as Western capitalist culture. Influencing is the reason the advertising industry exists; it birthed seismic tomes like Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People. The valorisation of influence in American culture is the bedrock of the entrepreneurialism that all young people seemingly now have to partake in.

At the end of 2011, an updated version of Carnegie’s book was published: How to Win Friends And Influence People in the Digital Age. The following year Emily Hund, a social media and influencer researcher then working in the magazine and publishing industry, watched the blogging phenomenon begin. It was an exciting time, Hund recalls, when names like Susie Bubble and Fashion Toast were launching incredibly successful careers off their influence.

“No one planned to create this industry,” explains Hund. “It happened by accident. People fell backward into it, because of this perfect storm of events; of the advent of these different technological platforms; and the crumbling of legacy media and creative industries, where there were a lot of people who were trained in or interested in creative jobs who weren’t getting traditional jobs. There was this glut of people who were turning to the internet at a time when the internet was gonna save everybody.”

In the early 2010s, people were referred to by the platform they were famous on: YouTubers, Viners, YouNow stars. “You saw the rise of this new group who were true multi-platform creators and there needed to be an agnostic term for them,” New York Times tech reporter Taylor Lorenz says. That term couldn’t be ‘creators’, because that word was synonymous with YouTubers. “This was also when brands really came into the picture and did bigger brand deals. ‘Influencer’ was the word that the marketing industry applied to creators, and people started using it.”

For years, Lorenz battled to even use the word “influencer” in her day-to-day work as a reporter for one of the most respected publications in the world. “I’ve had literally hours of arguments and conversations with editors at literally every place I’ve ever worked,” she says, “to try to describe people accurately and in a way that will be accessible to all audiences, and that old people and young people will both understand who you’re talking about.”

As Lorenz points out, these arguments about language happen with any emerging journalistic beat, but the reluctance to name influencers speaks to the fact that the industry felt both terrifyingly new and yet evolving and changing at an exponential rate.

A shift occurred in 2017 and 2018, when “influencer” took on a new negative connotation. Hund ties this to a wave of new influencers following what had previously been financially successful for their predecessors and ushering in repetitive content and trends – all of which was obvious to audiences. Think millennial pink, brunches and girlbossery but also spon con.

“People started to sense that the influencer class maybe was losing their edginess that maybe they had in the very beginning – and then also it started to become more clear that people that influencers were selling something,” says Hund.

Similarly, Lorenz notes that most people weren’t paying attention to the influencing industry until around 2017, and associate “influencer” with the creators from that era: female, hyper-curated, millennial. “There’s a charge that comes with the word influencer and a lot of it is sexism,” she says. “Someone will say ‘I’m not an influencer’, but if you ask them what an influencer is, they’ll say it’s a beautiful young woman that they see as vapid and shouldn’t be building their brand and doing sponsored content.”

At exactly the same time, “influencer” became an aspirational word to Gen Z. The youngest creators self-identify as influencers, and for the wannabes or future influencers, the word translates to the lifestyle and income of mid-to-top-tier creators.

Whether a slur or dream career, the word now reflects how the majority of us present and graft online. I always feel an uncanny jolt whenever I see people tagging brands in their Instagram stories of items they’ve bought themselves – as if that either makes them appear as an influencer or as if they assume that’s how friends and colleagues engage with their “content”.

“Everyone is sort of adopting this mindset of the advertising industry or the media industry logics that have existed for a long time,” explains Hund. “Now, they’re kind of being applied to the individual, where it’s like, ‘OK, now my M.O. is to influence.’”

We’re all using influencer tactics, from the celebrity actresses turned cookery range floggers (acting like influencers but not technically influencers, according to Lorenz) to you sharing other people’s work in the hope of one day getting reciprocal shares on your own.

So do we need new words to name the actual influencers? What actually is an influencer? “My feeling is that influencers – and creators – are a subset of entrepreneurs,” says Lorenz, adding that what is important is that we have a term at all so that people can recognise and understand the industry. To say we’re all influencers makes it difficult to talk about or critique influencer behaviour and the ways in which they sell and or behave as an extension of the brands they make deals with.

When I ask Stokel-Walker, he says, “There needs to be a term for digital-first – and largely digital-only – ‘influencers’, for whom the stakes are higher if they misstep and therefore are more likely to follow the rules around disclosure and more carefully protect their online brand, versus the traditional celebrities who get bunged a few quid every few months to plug a product online and are doing it as a bolt-on to their income, so aren’t necessarily as careful about how they do it.”

The issue with making language more specific is that it would show the problem with the latter: “What we think of as a more authentic way of marketing products isn’t authentic when you’re not that bothered if your Instagram audience turns away from you, because you’ve still got your TV presenting gigs.”

Interestingly, the drive to re-define these terms is coming from influencers themselves. In a recent bid to legitimise their jobs and standardise practices and rates, they hope to unionise. “They’re upfront, saying ‘we create our own content, but we’re here to work with brands and do it in a professional way’,” says Hund, “They’re trying to really clean up the field and normalise it.”

If our favourite influencers – the ones who’ve influenced us the most – insist they don’t really relate to the dirty word, this is a chance for them to reclaim it. Or, at least, use their social currency to become someone new.

Feature Image Credit: Owain Anderson 

By Hannah Ewens

hannah.ewens@vice.com Features Editor at VICE UK. Author of ‘Fangirls: Scenes From Modern Music Culture’.

Sourced from VICE

By Hiranmayi Srinivasan

You don’t need millions of followers to make money on Instagram. Here are some tips and ideas on how you can bring in extra cash while creating something you love.

Got a cool craft you enjoy making? You can sell it on Insta. Love photography? You can sell that too. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be an influencer with millions of followers to make money on Instagram. Although you do need to have a brand-sponsored post to be paid directly by Instagram, there are are plenty of creative ways to make money on there that don’t involve ads. Here are some tips on how you can use Instagram to take your hobby or idea to the next level.

1 Determine your brand and style.

Trying to figure out your Instagram persona might sound like a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. Reflecting on what you’re passionate about and how you want to talk about it is the key to keeping people’s attention on your page. “Figuring out who you want to be and how you want to be perceived…is really important,” says Kennedy Roberts, founder and lead creative of KAR Creative Studios, a team that helps with social media, web content, and photography for emerging brands.

Los Angeles-based designer Lorena Cortez uses her passion for photography, film, and styling to promote her online pinup-inspired store, Ruby Rae Clothing, on Instagram. “I was intentional about the content I was putting out to be not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye but also promoting my brand. My favorite way to promote myself is through parallax-style videos that I shoot and edit myself,” says Cortez. So before you launch your business on Instagram, take some time to figure out the things you are interested in and how you want to showcase them.

2 Sell your product or service directly.

Speaking of business, you don’t actually have to have a website or an online store to make money off of Instagram. You can create content that leads people to a course or a download, or sell any type of art or craft you enjoy making. “Any hobby that you have, you could potentially use Instagram to sell those things. Even if you’re not functioning as a business with a website, you can easily throw up an Instagram page and share images of your product and sell some,” says Roberts.

Artist Danny Koby first started her page to show off tufted yarn rugs she makes, and had no intention of selling anything. “I really just wanted to have a place to put pictures of my art, but somehow people found my page and wanted their own bath mat! I really never expected it to grow so quickly. I am so thankful for everyone who follows and supports me and my art,” says Koby. She does not have an online shop and all sales are done through Instagram DMs.

3 Get your work out there.

Follow accounts that are posting things similar to yours and interact with their content with likes and comments to increase your visibility on Instagram. Another tip is to be consistent with posting—”every day, if possible,” suggests Robert. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to people to collaborate. Have a fellow creator do a guest post on your page, or suggest doing a takeover on theirs. “I like to say using Instagram is a telephone, not a microphone. What is most important is making connections with people,” says Robert.

Jalyn, founder of Milkweed, started her business selling body butter candles about a month ago—and sold out of her first batch within 10 days of launching. Each candle comes in a customized, hand-painted jar. All orders are placed via DM and paid for via Venmo or another payment app. “Eventually, I think I’ll make a website. But for now, Instagram is serving all the purposes. From marketing, to customer service, to selling the candles themselves. IG has made it easy for me,” she says.

4 Treat Instagram like the real world.

While many say social media is far from real life, Roberts believes it doesn’t always have to be that way. In fact, using Instagram to communicate like you do offline might be just the thing for your business. “Instead of thinking about Instagram like this weird alternate reality, just think about it like it’s life and you were marketing your business by word of mouth,” suggests Roberts.

Artist Jackee Alvarez runs two Instagram businesses—one for selling her paintings, and another to sell handcrafted clay and wire earrings with her friend Madison. She says one of the most helpful parts of having her business on Insta is the access she has to people. “I think what helps creatives is really having a conversation with the people that are supporting them. I wouldn’t be able to have such quick contact if I just had my website—I would have nowhere to let people know what’s going on and really get opinions,” says Alvarez. She also says that there is a learning curve with Instagram, especially with knowing what hashtags to use and when to post, since posts do not show up chronologically. When you set up your profile as a business account, Instagram allows you to check insights on your content. The insights section will show you when your followers are most active, how many people are interacting with your content, and how many accounts you have reached.

“The good thing with Instagram is you literally have the whole world at your fingertips. Anyone can stumble upon your page and give you a follow and support with a purchase. I think the way Instagram is currently set up allows for small businesses to be seen and supported,” says Alvarez.

And speaking of follows, aim for quality not quantity. “I think you can have 50 followers and if all 50 of those people love what you’re doing and buy something from you, you could make a lot of money,” says Roberts. “Aim for quality people who are actually interested in what you do.”

By Hiranmayi Srinivasan

Sourced from Real Simple

By Elie Levine

Whether your work reflects your personality, your hobbies, your journalistic capabilities or a combination of these, readers will respond to it when they feel like they know the person behind it. Your unique point of view can help you craft social media posts that act as extensions of your brilliant writing.

Maintaining a personal brand doesn’t have to be cringey

In the age of working from home, life seems to bleed into work more than ever before. And readers respond to writers who give them a glimpse of their world beyond just the words.

Writer Mark Stenberg’s Nieman Lab prediction for 2021, “The Rise of the Journalist-Influencer,” suggests that all journalists are simply digital creators by another name. Much like entertainers, artists and influencers, you rely on the internet as a discovery platform for your work. That means designing an online persona around your writing.

But you don’t have to be a “journalist-influencer” to draw eyes to your writing on social. If you’re already writing on Medium, branding should not be a daunting process. Are you writing in a niche that feels necessary, about topics you have expertise in or that are not being covered extensively elsewhere on the internet? Congratulations, you already have a brand. Your work now is to maximize that foundation to grow your readership — and you shouldn’t think twice about doing so.

Here are some strategies that will help you champion your own work — without seeming like you’re constantly humble-bragging:

1. A good self-promo post includes clear, concise copy introducing the story. Let readers know what they can expect from the story, and nod to its wider significance, like Medium staff writer

does below:

2. But if you’re an opinionated writer with a distinct voice, don’t be afraid to show your personality, like

does here:

3. A focus on education helps round out the self-promotion. NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang breaks the story down into a thread, tags the reporters who broke it, and shares screenshots of documents to guide readers’ experience of the work.

4. Crediting others can make your storytelling more genuine and thorough. Tagging is one of Twitter’s most useful functions to that end.

Writer

cited his sources and thanked them in his tweet:

Vox writer Jerusalem Demsas tags the academics, institutions and journalists whose work was foundational for her own:

Of course, you can also do this on Facebook or Instagram, or any platform where tagging users is available.

5. Give readers a window into your favorite parts of the story. Hunter Harris highlights her favorite parts of this story, includes a smattering of emojis to draw readers’ attention within the feed and drops a shareable screenshot into the thread.

6. Embrace the self-retweet. Don’t be afraid to promote your work more than once. The self-retweet has sparked years of Internet debate, but when you’re a writer and simply want to give your content more exposure, there’s no shame in it.

Social platforms’ algorithms are designed to constantly update and attempt to match users with posts that will spark their interest. The lifespan of a Twitter post — or how long it sticks on people’s feeds — is eighteen minutes on average. That means your post may not get exposure if you only share it one time. Sharing more than once isn’t egotistical — it’s necessary! The chances are many people missed your first post, anyway.

Go beyond a single post

So you’ve tweeted or posted a link to your story. Now what? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Fun features across social media platforms can play a role in promoting your writing, too. You can host Clubhouse chats with journalistic sources or thinkers — or anyone relevant to your writing — in order to create a dialogue around work you’re proud of.
  2. If you’re thinking of promoting your writing over on Instagram, a visual-first approach is key. This often means sharing screenshots or building out your work in a simple graphic design program like Canva. Non-verified accounts cannot use the swipe-up feature in Instagram Stories, but you can use a link in your bio to guide your readers toward your content.
  3. The most successful creators on Instagram aren’t afraid to show up for their audience, and that authenticity helps them connect with readers. Malick Mercier uses Instagram to bring life to his journalism through Live chats, live protest coverage and breakdowns of the latest news saved in a profile highlight. Noor Tagouri uses her Instagram profile to promote her storytelling across platforms — from a newsletter to a podcast — and provide career and public speaking tips. Iman Hariri-Kia, the sex and relationships editor at Bustle, shares roundups of her own writing, and the coverage she oversees, on her Instagram Story. All three creators balance career updates with details of their personal lives on Instagram.

Tie it all together

Reminder: All this promotion won’t work if people can’t find you!

If you’re maintaining an active Medium profile along with active social profiles where you discuss your work or engage with your audience, make sure that all of your readers know where they can find you across the internet. That can mean simply noting that you’re a Medium writer in your Twitter bio, and following accounts for Medium publications and writers relevant to your interests.

To level up, and create opportunities for your readers to move organically from your Medium profile to your Twitter account, link your Twitter account to your Medium account. You can also link your Facebook account.

And if you’re still feeling cringe-y as you craft a tweet about your latest story, remember this: Social media promotion is also good for search engine optimization. The more time your readers spend reading and engaging with your posts, the higher are the chances that search engines will elevate your writing in their algorithms.

Journalistic self-promotion isn’t egotistical. Rather, it can be a thoughtful way to share work you’re proud of and connect with readers. It’s designed to draw more eyes and exposure to your portfolio. With a bit of strategizing and a lot of voice, you can craft a social media presence that matches the quality of your work.

Feature Image Credit: Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash

By Elie Levine

Sourced from Creators Hub

By Goldie Chan.

How has influencer marketing radically changed in 2020?

In my continuing series of “State of Marketing 2020,” I run interviews on the changing landscape of 2020 with key leaders in different business and leadership areas. For influencer marketing, I tap Lindsay Fultz, SVP of Partnerships at Whalar and influencer marketing expert for over a decade.

Goldie Chan: You’ve been in influencer marketing for nearly a decade. You’re considered a veteran in the industry. After all this time, what gets you excited?

Lindsay Fultz: This industry is fast moving. So much has changed. From types of creators and redefining what the word “influence” actually means, platforms, features, how cultural trends are intertwined and what makes them go viral, ways content can be repurposed, algorithms, to accessible data and now influencer marketing during a global pandemic and influencer and brand activism during a long overdue social justice movement.

Some things that get me excited:

  • Shoppable features that enable us to create strategies that tie ROI to particular influencers and activations. My company, Whalar is the only global partner to five social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok which not only means rich first party data but also access to all the cool private beta features like TikTok’s creator shopping program — The ability to tie video views from a specific influencer to actual purchases — that’s huge and something we’re very excited to pilot with a brand for a case study.
  • Interactive survey features that can double as consumer surveys and coordinating influencer focus groups for brands. Since the pandemic, we’ve been doing a lot of this at Whalar.
  • Live-streamed shopping which for 2020 is projected to be a $129B revenue stream in China. Instagram quietly rolled out their Live Shopping Feature in private beta a few weeks ago which I’m very excited to pilot with a brand. Whoever gets this right in the U.S will unlock a gold mine in Influencer Marketing for both creators and brands.
  • Virtual events! Marc Jacobs recently leveraged Zoom for their new product launch and Fenty VR and livestreams for their virtual house party. Both were super interactive and attendees left with keepsakes and an incredible, unforgettable experience. And we’ve only just scratched the surface on the possible integrations.
  • Leveraging influencers as your in-house production arm. Since the pandemic we’ve been getting a lot of briefs about partnering with creators behind the lens to create a library of branded assets from still and dynamic images to short and long form video content. This is quite exciting.
  • Even though it’s all P2P, partnering with creators that hit a B2B audience. Keynote speakers, marketers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders — because they are practitioners and educators, they attract an audience composed of C-suite executives, decision makers, people that control large marketing budgets and people that aspire to be in those positions. They are regularly in front of large super targeted audiences that people pay to gain access to — albeit now virtually.
  • Influencer and Brand Activism. This has been exciting to watch unfold and I think it’s a good thing! It’s been incredible seeing brands take a stance, and influencers unafraid to lose brand deals by taking a stance. It adds an extra layer to the influencer vetting process but it’s a very important layer when partnering influencers with brands — to make sure both brand and influencer viewpoints are aligned.

 

Feature Image Credit: GETTY

By Goldie Chan.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

 

Sourced from Forbes

By John Turner.

You can grow your business in countless ways using social media. Influencers are one of the most common yet underutilized social media marketing tools at your disposal.

Influencers are internet personalities who promote your content to their audiences in exchange for cross-promotion, cash payment or a free sample of the product you want them to show. This strategy can help you generate more leads and sales. People who follow influencers trust them, so their recommendations are like getting a suggestion from a friend.

You may be thinking about reaching out to influencers to promote your business, or maybe you’ve been contacted by an influencer and want to know what you need to consider. Either way, we are going to take a look at several things you should think about before you sign a contract with an influencer.

Let’s get started!

Content Niche And Format

First, think about the niche and format of the influencer you want to hire. Both of these elements will play a role in deciding whether this person will be a good fit for your brand.

Always work with people who have a similar target audience to your own. It wouldn’t make sense to promote your email marketing firm with an influencer who plays video games. You would want to find someone who talks about finance or teaches subscribers about marketing.

If your product doesn’t resonate with the audience, there’s no chance that they will click your link in the description and buy your product. Your main goal should be to find influencers who work in a space where your target audience is likely to spend their time.

Format plays an essential part in the equation, too. You likely wouldn’t spend too much time promoting your email marketing business with Instagram because there are limitations due to not having a physical product to show off. But if your company sells items like clothing or pet supplies, there are countless Instagram influencers you can contact.

Audience Size

Social media influencers can be classified by their audience sizes. There are four types you should know:

• Nano: < 1,000 followers

• Micro: 1,000 to 100,000 followers

• Macro: 100,000 to 1 million followers

• Mega: > 1 million followers

Each size segment has a unique benefit that you can use to your advantage. For instance, macro-influencers don’t have the reach of a mega-influencer, but they tend to have more rapport with their audiences.

Normally, you want to work with a mega-influencer because your goal is to spread brand awareness, which can help budding businesses. Macro-influencers can help you get more eyes on your website and improve your conversions. The slightly smaller audience means you have a better chance of reaching people interested in your product.

Micro- and nano-influencers are excellent for small-scale, targeted campaigns. If you want to promote a beta test of your software, put codes out to someone with less than 1,000 followers. Sending out the code to more people than that could cause the beta to break, which isn’t helpful for consumers or developer teams.

Tracking Progress

Progress drives every business. Successes and failures are often determined by how much we can accomplish over a specific period of time. Metrics across your website, email and social media all point to the progress you’re making as a company.

Social media influencers have their own metrics that you should track consistently. You need to know how many people are landing on your website from the influencer’s content. Create special short links that are connected to each influencer so you can track their progress over time.

Seeing their performance as it relates to your site is vital to fine-tune your campaign in the future. For example, you should know if an influencer posted sponsored content for your brand for three months, but still never managed to get a click-through. Knowing this information means you’ll have the option to swap out influencers, look for new opportunities and steadily grow your brand.

Your decisions should ultimately boil down to your goals. Think carefully about your goals and expectations. What do you hope to accomplish by hiring a social media influencer? Do you want to spread brand awareness, or is your goal more about securing sales? Maybe it’s a mixture of both. Once you determine your goals, you can start considering the points mentioned above.

Feature Image Credit: GETTY

By John Turner,

The founder of SeedProd, the most popular coming-soon page solution for WordPress used by over 800,000 websites

By Reena Rai.

How have brands such as Glossier and Telfar cultivated communities of brand ambassadors to build brand loyalty? Reena Rai, Pinterest’s Creator Lead explains.

Influencer marketing is one of the most innovative facets of the digital marketing mix. It has evolved at a phenomenal pace over the last decade and is expected to grow to be worth $9.7bn in 2020. The latest evolution, Ambassador Marketing, sees brands engaging customers to create content, provide reviews and suggest future product lines, all while putting the spotlight on authenticity.

The need for authenticity and relatability is reminiscent of the early days of blogging over a decade ago. The majority of bloggers started their foray into digital publishing as a passion project on Blogger or WordPress, before expanding to social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

Marketers saw an opportunity to enhance their traditional marketing strategies by working with influencers. Engaging real people with a social following adds a layer of authenticity, while also helping to reach new audiences. One-off collaborations have led to long-term partnerships, turning influencers into ambassadors.

Super-influencer Lorna Luxe has been working with fast fashion e-tailer ‘In The Style’ since February 2019. Her first collection was the most successful launch in the brand’s history, with 5,000 units sold out in under an hour.

Paid influencer collaborations have proven to be a very successful marketing tactic, but fans and followers have become sceptical of how authentic these partnerships and influencer reviews really are. In 2018, the industry faced a further crisis in confidence after several leading influencers were caught buying followers and using bots to overinflate their engagement metrics.

This is why I believe Ambassador Marketing is a necessary evolution. Influencers undoubtedly play an important role in digital marketing, but brands can benefit from engaging grassroots fans to create a 360° approach. Consumer purchase decisions are heavily influenced by peers and relatable micro-influencers: engagement rates are much higher for micro-influencers and a recent study stated that 70% of millennials are influenced by social content from their peers.

Here are two compelling examples that illustrate the importance of engaging superfans as both a source of inspiration and to help build grassroots buzz.

Case Study: Glossier
Beauty brand Glossier is estimated to be worth a cool $1.2bn and much of the company’s success is attributable to Ambassador Marketing. Interestingly, Glossier was founded by Emily Weiss in 2014 and, before launching her brand, Emily was a blogger at ‘Into The Gloss’ which launched four years prior.

From the beginning, Glossier has placed customers at the heart of their brand strategy, with early customers engaged as brand ambassadors. Not only were customers encouraged to share social media posts with their products and signature pink bubble wrap pouches, but Glossier also relied on their brand ambassadors to share product reviews and tips.

By treating each customer as an influencer, Glossier has amassed an impressive amount of User Generated Content (UGC). This social amplification has earned the brand a huge following across their channels, with their largest audiences being on Pinterest (over 10m monthly unique views) and Instagram (2.8m followers).

Taking the concept of Ambassador Marketing a step further, Glossier also has an exclusive Slack group with 100 ‘superfans’ who are happy to provide feedback on the existing line and share ideas for new products.

Case Study: Telfar
Launched in 2005 by Telfar Clemens in New York, Telfar is one of the most exciting luxury fashion brands in the zeitgeist. Steadily building a buzz within the Brooklyn party subculture, Clemens has been collaborating with brand ambassadors since the brand’s inception.

While large fashion brands scramble to prove that they value diversity, Telfar’s founding motto is “It’s not for you, it’s for everyone”. As a black-owned luxury fashion brand which is unisex and affordable, Telfar is effortlessly inclusive. Clemens dresses friends such as Kelela and Dev Hynes, who in turn become brand ambassadors, wearing Telfar pieces and performing at the brand’s shows.

Telfar’s first handbag was a runaway success and the limited monthly drops have resulted in a cult-like following. Dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin”, the handbag is a prized possession which unofficial brand ambassadors share across social media in high-quality, editorial-esque shoots.

By engaging superfans and high-profile cool kids spanning the art, fashion and music worlds, Telfar is able to reinforce their brand values, extend their social reach, lean on their community for content creation and create a grassroots buzz.

As brands and agencies look for new opportunities to extend their digital presence and build brand loyalty, the most innovative strategy they can adopt is cultivating a community of brand ambassadors. Engaging with influencers as thought leaders in their niche only goes halfway. The most powerful advocates for any organisation are existing customers and fans. Genuine advocacy from an ecosystem of influencers and fans will help you to engage customers, build loyalty, and drive incremental brand visibility.

By Reena Rai.

CREATOR LEAD, PINTEREST

Sourced from iab.uk

By Leslie Licano.

Clients come to our agency looking for ways to take an omnichannel approach to public relations and marketing more frequently now than ever before. In addition to an uptick in traditional media campaigns and innovative social programs, we’ve seen an increase in the return on investment that our clients are seeing through influencer marketing campaigns.

If you’re thinking about starting an influencer campaign, you’re not alone. Influencer marketing is expected to grow from a $2 billion industry in 2017 to a $10 billion industry by 2020. It’s proven to have a strong return on investment, and it allows public relations teams to really dial into a target market. While Instagram is the leading platform for influencer marketing, influencers also can be found on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and just about any other social media vehicle you can think of.

So how can you structure your influencer strategy to get the most from every post? Here are a few things to consider:

What are the goals of your campaign? Do you want to increase awareness? Generate leads? Drive sales? Boost brand reputation? Determine what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to measure the results. Engagement is a popular data point to measure, but make sure that’s the right fit for your brand. Also, ensure everyone on your team, including the influencer you choose, is aware of goals and measurement plans.

Decide on a budget. It’s important to know how much money you have to spend on an influencer campaign. Most influencers are pay to play, with rates as low as $200 per post up to tens of thousands of dollars per post. Is your budget large enough to get the posting frequency you may need to make an influencer campaign viable? Look at influencer marketing as you would any other marketing campaign — you may have to spend money to get the results you want.

Narrow your demographic, and determine your target market. Your target market for an influencer campaign might be slightly different from your regular target market. Make sure the influencer you select has a majority following within your target demographic. No matter how much you like an influencer or the aesthetics of their posts, if their following doesn’t match your target needs, it doesn’t make sense to engage with them.

Research influencers to find the right fit. This is such an important step, and there’s so much to consider. Before moving forward with any influencer, make sure that they fit your brand naturally. It’s vital to be authentic in these posts, so an influencer who’s excited about your product and has a following comprised of your target demographic is ideal. Another important step is to make sure that the influencer hasn’t embellished their following with bots. Third-party measurement and analytics tools are great for checking out influencers and making sure they’re on the up-and-up.

Determine content with your hired influencer. In general, let the influencer to take the lead here. If the content is going to feel authentic, it likely needs to come from them. Their followers will probably be able to pick out a brand-crafted post from a mile away. That said, provide some guidelines, concept ideas and product information to help them, or you may inadvertently set yourself up to fail. Additionally, make sure that they’re familiar with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for your type of product. For example, many influencers today are involved in the promotion of health products, which is heavily regulated by the FTC. Influencers may need to announce that the content is sponsored or label it as advertising and ensure that they’re being careful not to make false claims regarding a product’s effectiveness to avoid misleading followers.

So are you ready to get your influencer campaign up and running? Approach influencer strategy as you would any other new campaign. Set your goals, budget and target demographic, and do your research to make sure that the partners you choose are the right fit for your brand — just as you would research any other person you might hire for the team. With a detailed strategy that covers all these bases, you’re likely to see positive results.

By Leslie Licano

Co-Founder of Beyond Fifteen Communications, a SoCal PR and communications firm known for taking clients beyond their 15 minutes of fame.

Sourced from Forbes

By Kimberly A. Whitler

One of the most enjoyable parts of shifting from practitioner (GM/CMO roles) to professor has been the opportunity to connect with a variety of people I would not have otherwise met. Once such person is Tamara McCleary, CEO of Thulium and a leading influencer of CMOs (see here). As somebody who works with firms around the world and has amassed a very strong social following (@TamaraMcCleary – 307,000 twitter followers), she is an expert with deep insight. I have had a series of discussions with McCleary regarding her perspective on influencers and “influence” more generally. Below, McCleary provides advice to CMOs on how to develop an influencer marketing program for their brand. To read Part 1, which identifies the six different types of influencers and how to spot a “real” from a fake influencer, see here.

Kimberly Whitler: What tips can you provide a CMO who wants to develop a best-in-class influencer program?

Tamara McCleary:

1. Have an outcome for success defined before starting the program. What do you want to achieve? How will you measure success? When I consult with brands, I reverse engineer success by clearly identifying desired outcomes, understanding executive-level expectations, and evaluating KPI’s the program will ultimately be measured against.

2. Do your due diligence when seeking out an agency to help you organize a successful program. Obtain multiple bids (get a second or third opinion, you may be surprised). Look at various companies and don’t just settle on the first one that comes to you. In order to not only make your initiative successful, but secure a bigger budget for your next round, engage with companies that have demonstrated success. Don’t go for the least expensive (or the most expensive), but rather, go with the one which can prove and has demonstrated success and which you are most comfortable with.

3. Think through the compensation structure. Paid, unpaid or hybrid? Are you going to pay your influencers to be involved with your program or just provide inside knowledge, invite them to special events, etc.? Will you go with a hybrid approach where many of your influencers are unpaid but a limited number are paid for their participation? There are a variety of different ways to go when it comes to working with influencers.

4. Understand the process. Make sure the company you decide to work with explains their process thoroughly, and get your results in writing. If the company you are considering is not utilizing analytics in the selection of influencers beyond vanity metrics, you’re not working with pros and abort mission. At my organization, Thulium, we employ a heavy emphasis on engagement metrics to weed-out the false appearance of influence. Remember the purpose of an influencer program: you deserve substance for your spend, so don’t settle for empty fluff.

5. Have a plan for your influencers. Do you know what you want your influencers to do? Do you have a clear strategy for utilizing them? One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when bringing in influencers is a lack of focus and specificity. You run the risk of not getting the most bang for your buck if you leave it up to the influencer to know what you expect of them. Clarity of vision, and focus, paired with a well-defined strategy and most importantly solid execution and continued follow-up are mission-critical to the success of any influencer program.

6. Think long-term. It’s important to look at an influencer program as a long-term relationship-building program. A long-term program will allow your brand to create true brand advocates, powerful brand evangelists, and raving fans.

In prior articles I’ve written about why U.S. marketers are losing the influencer battle, what marketers can learn from top CMO influencers, and mistakes marketers make when working with influencers, there is a common theme—relationship development. The more marketers approach influencers with a partnership mentality versus a transactional/legal mentality, the more likely they are to generate authentic influence. And this is one place where the east is beating the west (see Harvard Business Review article here and HBR podcast here).

Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler and @TamaraMcCleary

Feature Image Credit: GETTY

By Kimberly A. Whitler

Sourced from Forbes

By Aaron Brooks,

The Times recently reported that influencer marketing fraud costs sponsors, on average, £1 billion each year. This waste is attributed to social creators with inauthentic audiences. Brands are pouring their marketing funds into influencer collaborations which are broadcast to bot accounts, rather than receptive, engaged social audiences.

For anyone close to the influencer marketing industry, fake followers are old news. They are the unfortunate but inevitable hangers on that come with large social followings. Respectable influencers will regularly and ruthlessly delete them, knowing what a negative impact silent and inactive followers can have on the performance of their posts and their reputation. Manually checking new followers and gauging their authenticity is necessary admin for a social content creator – and the only way to keep the value in their followings.

On the other hand, some influencers still intentionally buy fake followers to enhance their follower count. It’s something that content and influencer marketing platforms – and Instagram themselves – have been cracking down on for years. The fact that someone has slapped a valuation on its impact has brought it back to focus.

Looking beyond reach 

The practise of buying fake followers originated with brands’ obsession with reach. The bigger audience an influencer had, the more interest they got and higher fees they received. Attempts to ‘game the system’ were made by smaller influencers trying to get a crack at the big brand endorsement deals.

It didn’t take long for the wheels to come off this half-baked plan. As marketers realised engagement (likes and comments) was actually more valuable than reach, influencers realised that high volumes of silent and inactive followers were in fact causing their engagement rates to plummet. Fake followers can’t mimic the same engagement as a loyal and genuine following, built up over years of posting.

Despite this, some marketers remain hopelessly devoted to reach. I have no doubt that those still ploughing their budgets into influencers with large followings, without doing due diligence on whether they are actually real, are losing money.

Luckily there are no shortage of amazing influencers to partner with. There are just as many creative, professional and authentic influencers that will deliver results, as there are wannabes with falsely inflated followings. A considered selection process is key.

Focussing on solid ROI

A genuine following should be the minimum requirement for brands partnering with influencers.

Advanced analytics can now tell a brand where an influencer’s following is based and how old they are, so marketers can target their customers with precision. Relevancy is essential for an effective campaign. The focus shouldn’t be how many people see the posts, but rather how many of the right people see the posts.

Brands should also be aiming higher when it comes to the results of an influencer marketing collaboration. Reach and engagement should come as standard, a natural byproduct of a campaign that achieves solid return on investment, sales uplift or app downloads. These are far more valuable metrics to focus on and diverts attention away from the size of an influencers following.

The end of Instagram likes?

As the influencer marketing industry matures, Instagram is moving the goal posts too. Their recent trial to hide likes from public view caused a stir in the marketing press. While it’s only being tested in a selected number of countries, many asked whether it was ‘the end for influencer marketing’. But I believe it will make for a more authentic practise.

Firstly, it will force agencies and campaigns that have pinned their success on empty vanity metrics, such as likes, to up their game. Visible engagement can not and should not be used to justify an influencer campaign. Let’s look at the real, transparent return on investment.

I think it will also place a renewed focus on quality and individuality. Creators will no longer feel constrained by pressure to chase likes and will be free to make content that feels more authentic. Content that’s braver and doesn’t follow a tried and tested aesthetic. This renaissance in creativity is likely to spark a surge in engagement across the board. Weary social users – increasingly feeling as if they have seen it all before – crave this authenticity. They want to see something new.

Keeping the industry authentic

Brand ambassadors have been – and will always be – an effective marketing tactic. Thankfully software is becoming much more sophisticated and adept in spotting fraudulent accounts. But to preserve the power of the channel, all parties involved must uphold their responsibility to keep the industry clean. Just as influencers monitor their followings, brands must be just as diligent with their choice of partners. Do your background checks. Make sure that their engagement rate correlates with their following, or enlist the help of a platform.

With more conversion functions from Instagram – like shoppable tags and ‘swipe up to buy’ –  the potential for influencer marketing is huge. Prioritise authenticity, practise due diligence and you can be sure your efforts will be rewarded.

By Aaron Brooks,

Co-founder of mobile content and influencer marketing platform, Vamp

Sourced from Global Banking & Finance Review