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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.

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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

By Dave Schneider

What do Neil Patel, Tim Ferriss, and Brian Clark have in common? They are three of the most influential personalities in the digital marketing sphere today. And they built their influence through blogging. Why don’t you start blogging to build influence as well?

You can say that they blogged their way to fame and fortune. But it was not an overnight success. It was a rigorous process borne out of a passion for finding solutions and sharing their knowledge to as many people as possible through digital tech and the Internet.

In this post, we will identify the common qualities influencers share. We will also look at some of the best’s best practices that, hopefully, you can adapt to position your best content forward.

The Common Denominators

Just like Patel, Ferriss, and Clark, top influencers share these qualities that help put them in their stature.

  • They create thought-provoking content that inspires their audience to take action. Influencers go beyond promoting their businesses and themselves. They spend time knowing the industry, pinpointing areas of improvement, knowing what makes people tick, providing solutions to problems, and keeping up with the trends. Take Barry Schwartz, for example. His site, Search Engine Roundtable, is often the first go-to resource for any Google algorithm update.
  • Influencers exude authenticity and transparency, both in the content they create and their online persona. They publish their works in different platforms and are active participants in online discussions. They are not afraid to voice their opinions, but acknowledge their shortcomings when they’re at fault. Making themselves more relatable as a human is the quality that builds the audience’s trust and the influencer’s credibility.
  • Despite his busy schedule, Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor and Chief Content Officer of Search Engine Land, still maintains his personal blog to talk about his personal musings and other passions aside from SEO and digital marketing.
  • They are engaging. Neil Patel, for example, has helped millions of his followers learn digital marketing in an engaging manner through his blog, Quicksprout. He crafts in-depth tutorials that are fun and easy to read. And beyond that, Quicksprout analyzes websites shows how they can be improved in terms of generating more traffic – free of charge.

So you want to become a digital influencer? Then…

1. Start blogging and give it all you got. Don’t expect it to be an instant hit though. As Seth Godin puts it, “If you love writing or making music or blogging or any sort of performing art, then do it. Do it with everything you’ve got. Just don’t plan on using it as a shortcut to making a living.”

It takes about a year or so for a blog to gain traction, provided you’re blogging more than 11 times per month. So, consistency is imperative.

To avoid sounding too boring in your writing, find a topic that you’re passionate about where you feel you can add value in. You’ll also find it’s easier to write in a conversational tone when you let your words reflect your personality. It’ll be easier for people to relate to you and see what you’re all about and how you’d contribute to your niche.

2. We all know how crucial content is when building a loyal following. If you’re still at a loss on what high-quality content is, let Google’s Quality Guidelines bring some light to it.

  • Create posts primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t write for writing’s sake, just so you have something to post for that day. The audience should learn something valuable from your post.
  • A useful test is to ask is, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” Because when you help people, they naturally want to like and trust you.
  • Think about what makes your website unique, engaging, and valuable. Make a list of things of what makes you stand out. Apply that to your writing and make your website stand out from others in your field.
  • Don’t mislead your users. Employing tricks to improve search engine rankings is definitely a no-no. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee.

3. Plan your strategy to start blogging

While content is crucial, the most important aspect of winning a loyal fan base is strategy. Use the analytics tool on your blog and social media. See what type of content is most shared and liked, and participate in discussions about it.

Study wording in the titles and images on articles in order to determine what attracts an audience the most, and then craft your content around it.

4. Determine collaboration options

For starters, look for other bloggers and ask if they could share your content and give you credit free of charge.

5. Use social media

Maintain visibility and activity in discussions on trending topics in your niche. Don’t just spew words. Do some research, if you need to, to bring more value to the discussion. You can easily build your online presence this way, attract more followers or blog subscribers.

6. Get ready to scale up

Reevaluate your blog analytics. If after at least a year you are attaining or exceeding your goals, then it’s time to scale up.

You will naturally produce more content than what you used to. So determine the need for additional writers and an editorial team to oversee that all articles are error-free and aligned to your branding.

Consider hiring a marketing manager to assist you in devising multiple streams of income through your blog and pitching to potential advertisers and partners. Get a professional graphic designer, if you can afford one, to help you in brand development through ongoing projects.

If your budget screams no to hiring one, use a graphic design tool such as Snappa to make it easier for you to create stunning visuals. The app’s resizing tool is one of its core features. So your blogs social media posts, display ads, emails, blogs, and infographics can be resized and repurposed as YouTube thumbnails.

Conclusion: Start Blogging TODAY!

Challenge yourself to be the most you can be. Set high goals, do some growth tracking, and crunch some numbers. It will all be difficult at the start but should be attainable once you set your mind to it.

Are you ready to start blogging now?

By Dave Schneider

Dave Schneider is an expert on Blogging. Dave is the cofounder of NinjaOutreach, an innovative new blogger outreach software for marketers based in Boston, Massachusetts. He writes about blogging for businesses, entrepreneurship, and has a love for travel, having visited over 40 countries. Dave can be found at lesschurn.io and daveschneider.me.

Sourced from Neal Schaffer

By

Influencer marketing is a relationship built between a brand and an influencer, where the influencer promotes that brand throughout social media outlets. Influencer marketing allows businesses to advertise directly to their target audience through an influencer that consumers follow and already trust. Influencer marketing has become a very popular social media strategy in the past

Influencer marketing is a relationship built between a brand and an influencer, where the influencer promotes that brand throughout social media outlets.

Influencer marketing allows businesses to advertise directly to their target audience through an influencer that consumers follow and already trust.

Influencer marketing has become a very popular social media strategy in the past few years. With the rise and advancement of technology, it’s important for businesses to learn and master this tactic to drive traffic and increase sales.

Here are the four steps an entrepreneur can take to successfully execute the influencer marketing strategy.

Define main goals and target audience

The first step to achieve success with any tactic in marketing is to define and set goals throughout the campaign. This preliminary step makes it easier to measure success and generate returns on any investments made.

Identify and make your product appeal to your target audience. Take time to research your target audience and identify what your ideal influencer would look like. Then, you will be able to target your product towards that specific audience.

“For a small business there’s one simple goal for influencer marketing: sales,” said Dhar Mann, an experienced entrepreneur and founder and CEO of LiveGlam, a cosmetics company that he took from $600 in starting capital to 8-figures in annual revenue in less than two years.

According to Mann, it is important to consider your company’s current stage when choosing where to focus your time and effort. In the beginning stage of your business, always place the focus on sales. After some cash is put away, you can focus on building up the brand.

Develop performance-based affiliate program that pays commission for sales

A business starting with a small budget can get the most return on their investments working with influencers by creating a performance-based affiliate program. Using this approach can help a business generate sales without spending any money.

“My company, LiveGlam, a beauty subscription box, will generate $20 million in sales in our third year of business and we will spend a whopping $0 on advertising. All of our sales come through commission-based influencers that love our products and make a great living selling them,” Mann added.

However, you must create personal relationships with key influencers in order for the performance-based affiliate program to be put into effect.

Create personal relationships with key influencers

Building trust and a personal relationship with an influencer is key to holding a mutually-beneficial relationship. People feel more of a connection with a person than they do to a brand.

“My advice is to take time to build personal relationships and don’t blow your whole marketing budget on a few pay-to-post activations.

“First, make sure the influencer loves your product and consistently uses it so their audiences know the love is real. Once that history is developed and the influencer’s audience is warmed up to your brand, then paid activations can start to work,” Mann said.

It’s also important to focus on developing a really good relationship with a smaller number of influencers then it is to depend on thousands of micro-influencers to drive sales.

“We constantly send them thoughtful gifts, fly them to our studio in Los Angeles, interact with them on all their social channels, take them on trips and do whatever it takes to build personal relationships.

“We pay attention to the small details and it’s paid off in a big way,” Dhar Mann added.

Also, creating a strong relationship can lead to many different, exciting opportunities to promote your product including giveaways, exclusive product bundles, and collaborations. These opportunities will also help expand your company’s social media followings.

Use the right platform

Using the right platform for influencer marketing makes a huge impact, depending on your brand. It’s also more efficient to become an expert one platform at a time.

“I suggest start with one platform, master that, and naturally it will start spilling over onto others especially since most Influencers are multi-platform. If they love your product and your brand, they’ll start talking about you everywhere,” Mann advises.

Facebook Live is a great platform to use for the start of your influencer marketing strategy.

According to a study held by Statista, Facebook is the most widely used social network.

“Not only do influencers on Facebook Live have the deepest engagement with their audiences, they’re also not being flooded with offers by big brands because live content is so new. So, you can get a lot of bang for your buck.

“Established YouTubers and Instagrammers have so many deals coming at them that you’ll have a tough time getting on their radar and will have to pay an expensive price to get in the door,” added Mann.

Review and Repeat

Keep your social media influencer relationships strong and continually monitor the success of your business. Reviewing your influencer strategy helps you to adjust any problems and replicate success. It also helps you find out what works best for your business.

“When LiveGlam first started we looked at everything like this: if we spend $X then we expect a $Y return. And we defined a successful activation as one that generated a positive return on our investment.

“As our business grew we started to look at the brand lift potential from an influencer activation. How many followers did we gain? How many impressions did we generate? How many people now know about our brand that had never heard of us, including other influencers?” said Mann.

Monitor your sales, leads, traffic, followers and engagement consistently. Make changes according to your business growth and keep your influencers happy for future demands. Influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to improve your brand’s awareness. Using these strategies can help take your business to the next level.

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Sourced from THRIVE GLOBAL

By Kaitlin Wernet 

When you first created your Facebook profile, assigned your Myspace top 8, sent your first tweet, or uploaded your Instagram square, you probably had a sense that social media would change the way you spent your time, communicated with others, and received breaking news stories.

But as you signed up for your very first accounts or connected with friends online for the first time, you may not have predicted that a shift in the way we communicate online would also change the way we form opinions about where to shop, what to buy, and whose recommendations to trust.

And although the rise of influencer marketing happened virtually overnight, it feels natural, like we’ve never known a world without it. To go a step further, you may not even realize you’ve been a target of influencer marketing, and that may very well be the most successful part of this type of marketing.

In this article, we’ll explore what influencer marketing is, how effective it can be, and what you can do to reap the benefits for your own brand.

What is influencer marketing?

Rather than focusing on the marketing channel, such as email, social media, paid search, or print advertising, or the target audience, influencer marketing focuses on the people who could potentially influence their following to become new customers of a particular product or brand.

So while, yes, it’s Kim Kardashian posting a SnapChat about her favorite athletic wear line or Kylie Jenner talking about her new lip kits on Instagram, influencer marketing goes beyond just those who are keeping up with the Kardashians. Influencer marketing has consistently grown in almost every industry and across all marketing channels, and, truth be told, we’re pretty positive it’s here to stay.

DIFF charitable eyewear is a company known for using Instagram influencers to its benefit. From recent stars from The Bachelor to pageant contestants and fashion bloggers, DIFF’s social media presence is largely filled with photos curated from the feeds of influencers-turned-customers who review their product in exchange for some type of reward. Many times, the benefit can be free products, VIP privileges, or monetary payment.

DIFF’s social media feed reflects their influencer strategy, featuring real people wearing their product.

How to identify an influencer

So, isn’t “influencer” just another name for a celebrity? Yes and no. Because our online lives have opened us up to connecting with more people who share our interests than ever before, we can also follow along with others’ lives in a new way.

Gone are the days of limiting the term “celebrity” to only popular musicians, actors, or writers. Now, as smaller niche audiences gather across all media channels and turn to people they idolize in their own field or industry, the term influencer has broadened.

A survey from Nielsen showed only 33% of consumers trust advertisements, while 90% put their faith in peer recommendations, which is why influencer marketing is definitely something worth paying attention to.

Number of followers

There is no definitive scale to determine an influencer’s status, but their number of followers is the first place to look. Think about it: Never before have we had such accurate numbers for one’s followers or reach. Before social media, we could measure a person’s influence by box office numbers or albums sold, but none of those statistics would come close to the precise measurement we now have in a social media following.

And because social media appears to be a way to gain inside access to the behind-the-scenes of stars’ work and personal lives, it instantly feels more authentic than other mediums. We can see beyond the stage or screen.

This image from Sprout Social shows the types of people you may consider to be an influencer:

Finding an influencer in your industry

Influencers of all levels can be found in almost any industry. Let’s say you run a business that focuses on email marketing (Can you imagine?!). When brainstorming, you may come up with the following ideas for who you could consider influencers:

  • Entrepreneurs who send lots of emails to their customers
  • Podcast hosts who talk about marketing
  • Famous bloggers who send their content via newsletter
  • Experts in other areas of marketing, such as social media

There’s no magic formula for finding an influencer for your niche, but you want to find someone whose followers listen to them and take their opinions seriously.

Micro and macro influencers

As the number of influencers continued to increase, we needed a way to measure one’s influence, especially when compared to others. While we all know the potential for this to change at any moment, the categories micro and macro influencers have been created as an unofficial way to differentiate various people with moderate to large followings.

Social Media Today identifies micro influencers as those with less than 10,000 followers and macro followers as those with more than that.

While there’s still plenty of gray area when it comes to differentiating between major and minor influencers, the emergence of these terms shows that the number of influencers will continue to expand and you can expect the effectiveness of influencer marketing to grow with it.

As content creators get better and better, consumers will have more choices for who to follow and how to spend time online. It only makes sense that more niches will be created and therefore, brands and consumers alike will have more influencers to look to.

Why influencer marketing works

Since everyone’s following grows over time, some people believe that influencer marketing may be on the decline. But influencer marketing is more than just the people doing it—the authentic connections followers make with influencers is something that, in one capacity or another, will continue to increase.

A trusted friend

Have you ever texted a friend for a recommendation for the next book you should read or asked where she got the jacket she’s wearing? Our personal connections can be our biggest motivators, and we’re much more likely to choose one brand over another if a friend or family member has given us input on a decision.

At its core, influencer marketing is the same thing. With or without a real-life personal connection, we’ve specifically chosen who to follow on social media and have grown accustomed to seeing glimpses into their personal life. We trust them, which is why we’re much more likely to buy something from their already-vetted recommendation versus a paid ad for a product we’ve never seen before.

Here’s an Instagram post by former Bachelor contestant JoJo Fletcher on her favorite hair tools. She currently has 2.2 million followers, making her a macro influencer.

Authenticity: The secret sauce

So, why exactly is influencer marketing so effective?

Because it feels more natural and trustworthy that traditional advertising.

As email marketers, we couldn’t stress the importance of personalization enough, and we’re always trying to write messages for people, not inboxes. But influencer marketing has also raised the bar on authenticity and custom messaging.

No longer will we blindly order something we receive a printed ad for in the mail. We’ll probably look up its Amazon reviews, ask friends how they feel about the product, or look to other online experts we trust.

A study by Mediakix revealed that the influencer market is currently worth over 1 billion dollars, and this number is projected to soon double. But does this mean these type of promotions will remain the same? Yes and no. We predict that authenticity and trustworthiness, two tactics that have far outlasted the rise of influencers, will remain the best way to approach marketing, but as always, the mediums, channels, and people involved will continue to evolve.

More and more influencers are making their full income from their blog and social media, so as their experience rises, the more likely they are to have working partnerships with brands. However, this is an area where you should work hard to preserve authenticity, rather than become just another sponsor of their website or podcast. Keep it real!

One of the longest-running examples of influencer marketing is Michael Jordan for Nike. Here’s influencer marketing at work in an email marketing campaign for Air Jordans, named after the basketball player himself:

Is influencer marketing a good choice for my brand?

As a whole, the influencer marketing concept is worth trying for most brands, but how you do it is completely up to you. Unlike most paid advertising strategies, the formulas to success are not clear-cut, and the input and output can vary greatly for each brand.

For example, you’re not always working with a set amount of money: Now, influence and product have become their own forms of currency. Create a strategy that casts a wide net of potential influencers and hones in on the people who you’d most like to represent your brand to new customers. Be sure that the influencers you work with share the same values as your brand. Of course, people are more unreliable than paid ads you write yourself, but that’s the risk you take in the name of unfiltered authenticity.

Wrap up

As you can see, influencer marketing isn’t just for large brands who have connections with big-name celebrities. Even if you’re an entrepreneur for a small business or feel like your industry doesn’t have famous thought leaders, it’s definitely worth the extra research and effort to explore.

And regardless of your partnership status with influencers, trustworthiness and authenticity should be the focus of your marketing strategy, regardless of brand, industry, or platform.

If you’re a brand looking to share customer testimonials or influencer content with your audience via email, reach out to us for a demo today.

By Kaitlin Wernet

Sourced from Business 2 Community

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If you want more dates, a better career, or a shot at being an influencer, you should hire a professional photographer to boost your social media status.

As a former model, I can tell you that looks matter—even though they really shouldn’t. Denying that people judge everything on appearances is just downright foolish.

When we see attractive people and things, we gravitate towards them naturally. It’s a trait that is built into our very DNA. Even babies are proven to prefer good-looking people over those who aren’t quite as physically attractive.

Now that social media is king, it’s becoming even more real to the world around us that looks matter for everything. The power that a good social media presence can give you is insane.

Entire careers have been built on a well-constructed social media brand. People found love on Instagram. We discover new people, products, and services based on how they look when we’re flipping our way through Facebook and Snapchat.

That’s why I’m a firm believer that you should hire a professional photographer to handle your social media shots. It sounds insane for someone who’s not a model, but hear me out.

Even if you’re not in entertainment, I have some great reasons why it’s so important to get some pro shots in your social media profile.

If you want to be an influencer, your photos will be everything.

 

Though I am a writer, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that people are visual creatures. These days, words alone are not enough to make a writer famous.

You need to be able to be an influencer. You need to captivate your audience, get them to relate to you, and also get them to relate to the topics you write about.

People are visual creatures, and we all know that adage that pictures are worth a thousand words. If you want to gain followers and become an influencer, you need to hire a professional photographer to take those shots—or become handy with a DSLR yourself!

I mean, look at this photo by Simone Bramante, a professional photographer. He tells a story about Barilla pasta and captivates his audience in a way that words would fail to match up with.

It will help your networking.

Having a degree isn’t enough to get you a job in a prestigious place these days. People want to see that you eat, sleep, and breathe your brand. They want to see what you are capable of—and what you want to show the world.

When you have a social media account that looks professional and also gives people a good idea of your brand, companies that want to hire you will start to reach out. This is why professional photographers need to embrace a changing world if they haven’t already, too. Social media is the best advertising both you and a photographer can have, if you each put equal effort into it.

Getting professional shots can also help you figure out your look.

When I was a model, I was forever thankful to photographers who were willing to do TFP. TFP stands for “Time for Portfolio,” and it’s when a model works for free in exchange for shots and practice time.

Spending a little time in front of the camera is a great way to figure out which outfits really flatter you and which look bad. It’s also a good way to learn how to take a better photo.

The model in this photo did TFP and posted the shots to her Instagram. I can assure you that she learned more about her best poses and wardrobe from her shoot.

Most of us are not pro models, which means that you will need to hire a professional photographer to do this. Thankfully, there are some affordable ones out there—and art schools love casual models.

A good photo or two can help you look more put-together, even when you’re not.

No matter who you are, you need to make it look like you have your shit together on social media. No one wants to associate with someone who looks like their lives are a mess, especially if they wear that look online. It’s cringe-inducing.

We all do what we can to try to cover up flaws. There’s only so much those Instagram filters can do, and in many cases, they come off as trying too hard. A good photographer will give you shots that will help you look great, effortlessly.

Professionals know how to work lighting, angles, and composure into a better shot. That’s why professional shots look better than a typical selfie.

Let’s face it, it’ll help your dating life.

There’s a reason why so many people joke about others “sliding into the DMs” on sites like Instagram and Facebook. People legitimately get dates this way, and some even find love through social media.

When you’re looking for a date on social media, the first thing you’re going to notice are the photos. Good shots that are taken with quality hair and makeup will get you more dates than casual shots.

Back when I worked as a pickup coach, I told guys they should hire a professional photographer and work on their looks for their social media accounts. People are shallow these days, and sadly, it will affect your love life.

The people who are most successful on social media are the ones who cultivate a brand that makes them look physically attractive, professional, and yet also adventurous. It makes sense; it shows they have a lot to offer.

It can help you sell things on your store.

I can’t express how important having a social media campaign is for business owners. A good social media marketing campaign can make or break your ability to turn a profit on a regular basis.

A lot of brands got their break on Instagram’s ads, but they wouldn’t have gotten so far without good shots. Dolls Kill, for example, is known for their amazing shoots, and owes a lot of their success to their active social media marketing.

Going to shoots is a confidence booster.

When I first got into modeling, I did it because I felt insecure. I needed to gain confidence, and I felt that being a model would help me see my beauty inside. To a point, it worked. I felt better and people treated me better.

Taking the time to hire a professional photographer and working on a photoshoot is an amazing experience. It’s something that will put you in touch with a side of yourself you didn’t know you had.

It will make you feel like a star, and you’ll be shocked at how much better you feel.

Professional photography can help you express your creativity.

If you’re creative like me, you probably use social media as an outlet for your imagination. Many creatives have images and art they want to make, but don’t have the skill to fully make those concepts come to life. This is doubly true with visual arts like photography.

A pro will have the equipment, knowledge, and skill to make your ideal images come to life. Those who want to flaunt their creative side would be wise to hire a professional photographer—or at least, pair up with them for a series.

For example, a shot like this wouldn’t be possible with yourself, the best professional online photography courses to up your game, and a selfie stick.

You don’t have to look too far to find a photographer that’s affordable.

Most people who want to hire a photographer think of wedding photography prices and wince. It’s true; most wedding photographers are pretty expensive.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t afford a pro—or someone damn close to it. Student photographers are often less expensive, and at times, will be willing to work for free in exchange for practice sessions.

This beautiful photo was taken by a student photographer. Need I say any more?

It will help others see you in a new light.

You want to know the biggest reason why you should hire a professional photographer to take photos of you once in a while? People notice the impacts of photography and social media. Professional shots show people that you mean business. It shows people that you are working towards something—and that you demand a certain level of respect.

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Sourced from PHOTOGRAPHY