Insider Secrets of Influence Marketing
Stephanie McCratic broke into the world of influence marketing through her blog, Evolved Mommy. She wrote about technology and family until e-commerce companies swept her away to produce the same engagement and influence for new brands.
Her background in human resources and advertising came in handy when she decided to leverage her knowledge to start her own company, Acorn Influence.
Stephanie and Acorn have proven to be experts in this field, so we sat down with Stephanie to glean some nuggets of gold about influencer marketing. Let’s start with the basics:
Influence marketing: What is it?
First of all, social media marketing and influence marketing are two different things. Social media marketing is a brand talking about themselves on their own social media account. Influence marketing extends far beyond the brand and utilizes individuals to spread the message.
In short, influence marketing creates a personal relationship so that the influencer is becoming a brand ambassador, which is why “influence marketing” and “relationship marketing” are often used interchangeably.
Almost everyone is influencer in some way. Most influencers that companies like Acorn work with are not celebrities – we call them “micro” influencers. They may have 3,000-30,000 Instagram followers.
The shift from traditional to digital marketing is what started giving power to influencers. Instead of solely relying on brands to tell us what we should and shouldn’t buy, we started to listen to those who are directly impacted by products and use them every day.
Around 2008, we started realizing that we could talk to celebrities on Twitter, and then on other platforms, as well. Brands targeted celebrities at first, but influence marketing is shifting from celebrities to peers because we believe peers on a different level than we do celebrities.
Acorn believes that in 2016, influencer marketing will become the new public relations. Traditional PR will still exist, just like traditional advertising, but it will make way for the power of relationships and trust to communicate messages effectively.
Influence marketing is platform agnostic, so it will always exist – with or without blogs, Facebook, or any other platform. Even if the Internet itself disappeared, we would go outside and talk to each other.
Influence marketing types and results
Influence marketing can be a slow burn; you need to be consistently present across multiple audiences. The type of campaign that you will run depends on your goals. What does success look like to you?
- Grow social media followings
- Attribute new sales to influence marketing
- SEO boosts
- Email collection
- Present a strong social presence to investors
Both the type of campaign and the success of the campaign are determined by articulating clear, measurable goals – regardless of what they are.
A word of warning: Campaigns fall flat when their success goal is impressions (or another useless metric). Impressions are just the number of raw eyeballs that could possibly see your campaign, but that metric doesn’t affect ROI.
A pile of money and a few good Twitter users can get 30 million “impressions” quite simply. For most data companies, impressions are calculated by multiplying a user’s followers by how many tweets they make. In theory, a user with 500,000 followers that tweets twice will have a million impressions, but reality says otherwise.
An “active” Twitter user is only on for 16 minutes per day, and the odds are that they won’t see your tweet in the barrage of other tweets during those sixteen minutes. The moral of the story: don’t build your definition of success around a vanity metric.
How to begin your own influence marketing campaign
- Identify a few key influencers that engage with or are relevant to your brand.
- Do a small test with about five influencers over 30 days. Send a small, personal email saying who you are, what you do, and a clear offer on what you will pay them and what you are asking in return.
- Ensure that you can track your goals, and see what approaches work over 30-day iterations.
When working with influencers, don’t box yourself in. A skincare brand may initially feel the need to target a huge celebrity that blogs about skincare 24/7, but there are less expensive options, too.
Think about people that aren’t celebrities but still have sizeable followings. It helps if they talk about your category frequently, but if not, they may still be a good bet if the category is relevant to their daily lives.
Always ensure that the influencer relationship is beneficial to all parties involved: brand, influencer, agency (if applicable), and consumer. Don’t forget the consumer. Why should they care about this message and product?
What if I need some help?
If you’re having trouble figuring out who is influential or how to gain access to them, companies like Acorn can jump in. Acorn has a wide access due to a good reputation with influencers. They also have technology used to disqualify influencers that could hurt your brand.
There are 30 million bloggers in the U.S. – nearly twice the amount of people as subscribe to a daily newspaper. It’s hard to find the right people!
If you do look for outside help, find a cultural fit that you feel good about, like they’re not trying to win one over on you. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors in this space – metrics that don’t mean anything.
Listen for talk about ROI, your goals, and your business. Ask what you will be getting back, specifically. Look at their most recent campaign – any company worth their salt should be happy to let you see it!
It can be scary working with influencers. Some have huge audiences and the potential to really impact your brand. However, for the most part, influencers use their voices for good, not evil (though it’s important to avoid the loose cannons).
Care about your influencers and honor them, and they will develop a fun, hard-working relationship for you.
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