How to Win Fans and Influence Consumers: Communicate Frequently

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By Courtney Moser

 

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is–it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

As Scott Cook, the founder and CEO of Intuit, said in this Forbes article, times are changing. The immense amount of opportunities for global, instantaneous connections spanning people and places means that brands and consumers – and their relationship with each other – are different than they used to be.

The one constant? Communication. Although the meanings and methods may change, the importance and core of communication remains. Brands are no longer in total control of their image, for instance, because consumers now have platforms of their own in which to communicate and share. Anyone can do research on a product or service and find consumer reviews, tips, message boards and more – impressions are no longer limited to traditional advertising.

Brands can embrace this evolution of communication by utilizing influencer marketing, which empowers you to communicate to a group of people through an influencer. These influencers – typically high-reach bloggers or social media advocates – share messages, promote products and cultivate partnerships. It’s word-of-mouth marketing on a larger, digital scale.

“People expect brands to talk with them rather than at them,” according to SocialTimes. “They no longer expect brands to sell to them, but to entertain and inform them. In this new paradigm, influencers are a force to be reckoned with. Brands can strategically partner with the right personalities to spark organic conversations and seduce their followers.”

The way a brand, and their influencers, speak with consumers can create communities and impact sentiment. Successful, strategic communication that’s aligned with brand messaging can lead to meaningful conversations, increased awareness, and much more. An effective influencer can turn other consumers into loyal brand advocates.

Once a brand starts using influencer marketing, of course, communication only becomes more important – only this time, it’s internal rather than consumer facing. It’s critical to work with your influencers to align expectations from the start, and stay in the know with their timeline and content. It’s also beneficial to keep them in the loop with your company, products and launch dates so that they can better plan and craft quality content.

The Find Your Influence (FYI) influencer marketing platform, for example, includes a message center to make communication between brands and influencers faster and easier. Every time you log in to the platform, you can check your messages along with campaign goals, progress, and more. This helps centralize communication and gives brands and influencers more time to focus on what really matters in one place, as opposed to checking multiple accounts or delaying timelines.

How you communicate with both consumers and influencers matters. Influencer marketing can make a big impact, but it’s also important to ensure you choose the right influencers and platforms in which to market your products or service. To learn more, check out FYI’s best practices blog series here.

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How To: Leverage Celebrity Influencers to Grow Your Brand

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By Courtney Moser

Nike does it. So does Apple. Disney was one of the first to do it. Microsoft is paying the NFL more than $100 million dollars over the next five years to do it for them.

Celebrity influencer marketing is wide spread, but not always clear cut. It’s not about who you know, but how much you’re paying them to know you. This type of influencer marketing can be effective, particularly if you’re a billion-dollar brand looking to stand out in a crowded market.

But what if you’re not a billion-dollar company? Is celebrity influencer marketing still a viable tactic for you?

SMBs and Influencer Marketing

Let’s be clear – influencer marketing works for all company sizes. And by offering an ROI of 6.5:1, influencer marketing can quickly become a marketer’s best friend. So why add a celebrity – and the risk that comes with that publicity – to the mix?

“The whole concept of celebrity is very different than it was just a few years ago,” said Jamie Reardon, CEO of Find Your Influence. “Even five years ago, you would never have seen movie stars making commercials or endorsing brands stateside.”

The concept of a “celebrity” is certainly evolving, as the phrase is no longer limited to high-profile athletes and movie stars. Celebrities now run the gamut from YouTube sensations to reality TV stars. In fact, a celebrity is no longer defined solely by how “famous” they are, but instead by how motivated their audience and fans are.

“As content – and the way people receive that content – continues to personalize to an audience, so does the nature of celebrities and their relationships to consumers,” said Reardon. “There are a lot more ‘celebrities’ today than ever before – and given the increasingly fractured nature of the market, more celebrities are extending beyond their ‘fame,’ and building brands.”

Personal celebrity brands have become an alternative revenue stream to traditional celebrity-status, and are valuable if audience relationships are nurtured properly. Ryan Brunty, head of Social for Zappos COUTURE, agrees with this evolution: “We are living in an incredibly interesting time in which we are hyper connected to not only each other, but the pop culture icons we love and adore.”

Never before have we been able to connect on such a personal level with our chosen celebrities. Whether they’re a famous singer or a successful blogger, we’re connected to these ‘celebrities’ (or influencers) online in a way that blurs the lines of real-life relationships. We are now able to witness personal vignettes of their lives – to chat, comment on pictures, share stories – as though they’re close friends.

And who do consumers trust when it comes to what they purchase? Friends, of course!

“Consumers are now able to get styling tips, shopping advice directly from their pop culture icons,” said Brunty. “Interestingly enough, celebrities are now becoming their own pseudo-retailers as well, creating a personal shopping experience plugged into their blogs/websites.”

In that sense, celebrity influencer marketing is an extension of the circular marketing experience. Marketers are challenged with aligning trust with celebrity endorsement’s demographics while also staying true to their own brands.

Why are celebrity endorsements so valuable?

Celebrity brands are a multi-billion dollar business today, but there are only so many mega-brands to go around, which makes celebrities more accessible to smaller brands than ever before. Given this increasingly fractured marketplace, it’s becoming difficult to continue using traditional (think direct mail, or even email) marketing methods.

So instead of a one-at-a-time approach, marketers are learning the benefits of influencer marketing, or leveraging an individual with an audience.

“Influencer marketing is the new word-of-mouth marketing, but scalable – and cost-effective,” said Reardon. “SMBs don’t have the resources to market one-at-a-time, so influencer marketing makes a lot of sense – communicate to a large group who share a common interest through a mutual thought leader, and you’ll see a much higher conversion rate.”

Zappos COUTURE began their first celebrity marketing campaign working with Lauren Conrad and the LaurenConrad.com team.

“It has become very important for our Zappos COUTURE marketing initiatives to add influencer marketing to our yearly budget,” said Brunty. “It’s important for anyone in the retail space to highly consider this outlet as consumers look to celebrities for style tips, and we as advertisers want to ensure were aligned with where our customer’s interests are.”

Their relationship with Lauren Conrad has certainly paid off for the retailer, leading to a redux for their spring line.

“It’s exciting to see just how wonderfully these campaigns have affected our strategy in ways we couldn’t have even forecasted,” said Brunty. “It’s especially exciting for me, because of the fact that I championed this project; it was very near and dear to me and was important to implement.”

Zappos had originally allocated budget toward a display buy, but Brunty tweaked tactics at the last minute to sanction off a portion of the budget to experiment with influencer marketing.

“It took some convincing to the rest of the team, but in the end, we are so happy with the results that we just completed our second campaign with Lauren Conrad,” said Brunty. “Buyers are informing me of sold out and low inventory SKUs which is always exciting to see after a campaign execution.”

It turns out that even other celebrities are not immune to celebrity influencer marketing.

“For me, the biggest success story comes from Sarah Jessica Parker being so excited about her SJP Collection being featured in the blog post that she sent a note to Lauren personally,” said Brunty. “It doesn’t get any cooler than that!”

Pieces of the Pie

Social media spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $27.4 billion by 2020 and continue growing at a five-year annual growth rate of 17.4%, according to Forrester Research. The way marketers slice their pie is getting more complex, with more offerings – and influencer marketing can check off a number of boxes for most brands.

While celebrity influencers are more expensive than a traditional influencer, they offer a greater megaphone that some brands desire to amplify their reach.

“The key to influencer marketing is target audience reach. It wouldn’t make sense to use Lauren Conrad as a brand ambassador for beard wax, because that’s not where her target audience lives,” said Reardon. “By the same token, you wouldn’t have the Duck Dynasty guys selling women’s shoes… the audience fit is critical for brands.”

That’s not to say marketers should completely abandon all other marketing strategies to jump on the celebrity bandwagon.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say celebrity endorsements ‘rather than’ any other form of marketing, as much as in addition to,” said Brunty. “It’s important to have a well-rounded strategy and this form of marketing falls directly in line with what we are trying to accomplish with our social marketing strategy.”

Want to learn more about how celebrity influencer marketing can boost your marketing strategy and efforts? Contact the Find Your Influence team today. 

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How to Leverage Multiple Platforms in an Influencer Marketing Campaign

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By Courtney Moser

The average digital consumer has seven social media accounts.

Yes, seven… on average. Let that sink in for a minute. That number has risen quickly from just three social accounts in 2012, according to Global Web Index, and is reason enough to leverage multi-platform marketing.

So what’s your social number? Seven accounts seem shockingly high at first, until you start counting. Between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and everything else, there’s an overwhelming number of platforms and ways in which to connect online.

This can be daunting enough for consumers, but what about brands? The increasing amount of social networks and types of influencers can determine how you handle your marketing strategy and efforts. Below we outline a few of the ways you can make the most of marketing on multiple platforms.

Multi-platform social campaigns

Marketing on several social platforms is now necessary in order to effectively reach more users spanning many networks. In fact, 81% of consumers say that friend’s social media posts have directly influenced purchase decisions. And, 78% say that a company’s social media posts have impacted their decisions. Increased visibility across networks means more opportunities to get your content in front of consumers.

The specific platforms you choose will depend on your target audience and your influencer’s audience demographics. It’s important to understand the difference between the users on social platforms – for instance, Facebook users span a wide variety of age groups, but more than half of Instagram’s users are between the ages of 18-29. A social retail campaign targeting females in their twenties, then, might be shared across Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Blog campaigns

When working with blogging influencers, brands often let them choose which of their social platforms are most popular. Obviously, the main platform in this case is their blog, but most utilize other social networks to drive page views and engagement. Tylenol’s #WhatMattersMost campaign offers an excellent example of a multi-platform blog campaign. The brand asked blogging influencers to write about how they celebrate what matters most during the holidays, and then link to that content using the branded hashtag across social networks. The result was 36 blog posts that generated 112,251 unique views – plus 559 tweets, 206 Facebook likes and 334 Instagram posts.

Platform-specific campaigns

These campaigns are typically chosen to capitalize on a specific feature or demographic on a platform. Twitter parties, for instance, allow brands to connect quickly with consumers and follow conversations or host Q&A’s through branded hashtags. Or Facebook Live videos now offer a unique way for brands to “speak” with consumers in real time. Even if you’re running a platform-specific campaign, however, you can still promote it or link to it on other social platforms. You can spread the word about your Twitter party on other platforms to encourage followers to head over to your Twitter page on a certain day and time – increasing awareness and the number of participants tweeting.

To learn more about influencer marketing best practices and utilizing social platforms, check out all of the content on our blog. Plus, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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How to Win Fans and Influence Consumers: Find the Right Influencers

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By Courtney Moser

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Or is it? At FYI, we’d modify this piece of professional wisdom to read “It’s what you know and who you know,” but that wouldn’t be nearly as catchy. So instead, we’ll have to settle for explaining why both knowledge and connections matter in the world of influencer marketing.

Did you know, for example, that 92% of consumers turn to people they know for product or service referrals? And when it comes to retail research, 60% of consumers said they’ve consulted blogs or social media before shopping or making a purchase. This knowledge is critical in order to understand the importance of influencer marketing. You have to connect with the right influencers to be in front of the right eyes at the right time; to increase reach, awareness and engagement.

Ultimately, the goal of influencer marketing is to turn your influencers into brand advocates. To do this, you have to have a solid grasp on your own audience and know as much as you can about them: how old are they, what kind of blogs do they read, what are they interested in, and of course, why would they want your product or service? Then, you can connect with influencers who have similar interests, goals and high-reaching blogs or social platforms.

An influencer’s audience demographics should align with your target audience. Having this commonality provides a great starting point for cultivating an authentic relationship. Of course, relevance is just as important when it comes to content.Once you’ve found influencers who seem to fit with your brand, you should research their content and social networks. High-quality content is key when individuals are aligning themselves with your brand publicly. You want them to not only be creative and engaging, but professional and relevant as well.

So, how do you find the right influencers?

  1. Know your own audience
  2. Research their audience and content
  3. Add value and cultivate relationships

Don’t forget – this is all about relationships. It’s not just about brand sales or numbers, but adding value for influencers and consumers. As Forbes says: “When you select an influencer to work with, start by making an investment in them. Give them something worthy of sharing with their followers beyond samples and a product shot.”

Ready to learn more? Check out our best practices series here.

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How to Win Fans and Influence Consumers: Pick the Right Social Platform

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By: Courtney Moser

Quick, how many influencers are on Instagram?

Trick question! It’s not that simple: it depends on your brand, products, campaign goals, audience and overall mission. So while the answer for one company may be “all the influencers!” for others, it may be very few.

Before choosing which social media platforms you’ll utilize for your influencer marketing campaign, it’s important to understand the demographics and purpose of each one. Who is your target audience and what social networks are they on? Where does it make the most sense to reach them? Examples are shown below from Sprout Social statistics:

Facebook: This social platform has evolved throughout the years from a college friends network to include almost everyone. 87% of adults between the ages of 18-29, 73% of adults 30-49, 63% of adults 50-64 and 63% of adults 65+ use Facebook.

Instagram: More than half of Instagram’s main users are 18-29, and the platform is increasing in popularity as visual elements become more important: The average engagement per Instagram post has grown by 416% over two years (2015).

Twitter: Similar to Instagram, the largest demographic using Twitter is adults ages 18-29. Their users skew female and mostly urban dwellers. On-the-go, localized tweeting can be valuable for marketers: 80% of Twitter active users are on mobile.

Of course there’s also YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Periscope, and many more – but the highly popular networks above illustrate the span of demographics and users. If your brand wants to make an impact with consumers between the ages of 50-64, for example, your best bet for a successful promotion is Facebook. Or, if you want to market a new product to a younger female who lives in an urban area, make Twitter part of your strategy.

There will definitely be network overlaps, but more often than not, it makes sense to focus on a select few for campaigns – even if your brand has a presence on all of them. A video campaign on YouTube and Facebook Live, for instance, will require a different strategy than an image caption content on Instagram. And a trending hashtag may be more meaningful on Twitter or Instagram than other networks.

If you’re working with influencers in your campaign who are bloggers first, then you can ask them to share their blog content on the social platforms that make the most sense for their medium and audience. One influencer may be more photo-focused and have the most followers on Instagram, while another may have the strongest following on Facebook. This is something you’ll have to discuss upfront with your blogging influencers and factor into your campaign goals and analysis.

Now that you’re ready to pick your social platforms, what’s the next step in your influencer marketing campaign? Learn more in our best practices series here.

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How to Win Fans and Influence Consumers: Fully Integrate Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

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By: Courtney Moser

“The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.” – Aristotle

I know, I know – we’re getting philosophical on you again. So what does this mean? The end result of individuals working together is greater than if they all were added together separately. A special something is gained in the group effort, often referred to as synergy.

So,  for example, influencer marketing is effective on it’s own – as is email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, paid advertising, etc. But what if you ran a campaign that encompassed all of them, spanning networks and audiences? It would be far more impactful than smaller, siloed campaigns.

Influencer marketing needs to be part of your larger marketing strategy to make a more meaningful, lasting impression and win over consumers. Before you begin any influencer marketing campaigns, then, you should first take stock of existing campaigns and determine overall brand goals. If your upcoming influencer marketing campaign is a continuation of a current brand campaign – such as inviting influencers to share a new product or service that’s being promoted elsewhere – you’re golden. Just make sure your messaging aligns across the board for consumer consistency.

If you’re about to start a completely new influencer marketing campaign, on the other hand, you should plan out how to carry it over throughout all marketing efforts. Budweiser’s FYI campaign is an excellent example of this. To celebrate National Burger Day and promote the Bud & Burgers Championship event hosted at their brewery, Budweiser turned to influencer marketing to complement the rest of their marketing and advertising strategy. Along with local event promotion, influencers helped spread the word on social media using the hashtag #BudandBurgers and #STL. This increased awareness and audience reach.

Consistency and quality are key in all of your marketing efforts in order to accelerate growth. Get creative with crossing campaigns and messaging so that your branding is powerful and relevant. To recap, you need to integrate influencer marketing with your overall strategy by:

 

o   Tying together current and future campaigns

o   Defining brand goals from the start

o   Aligning messaging across all platforms and methods

o   Keeping your influencers genuine and on brand

 

Take a look at the rest of our influencer marketing best practices here to learn more.

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Planning Your Holiday Influencer Marketing Campaign

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By: Courtney Gibb

 

Jingle bells, jingle bells, marketing season is on it’s way

Are you singing along yet? There are only 145 days until Christmas. And far less days until Halloween, Thanksgiving, you name it. Basically, it’s crunch time for marketers.

When it comes to business, holidays have long been invading our sun-soaked, pool-filled season of relaxation. After all, how can you sit back with a pina colada at the office when campaign deadlines loom? Over at Find Your Influence (FYI), we recommend a nine-week influencer marketing campaign plan. And if you count out nine weeks from today… well, we aren’t going to say it’s too late, but you better get moving!

November and December drive 30% more e-commerce revenue than non-holiday months. And according to Think with Google insights, 78% of consumers use the internet for holiday shopping research. So what are you waiting for? Setting a plan is the first step in your holiday influencer marketing campaign. This means deciding on a campaign goal that aligns with your overall company or brand mission and objectives. It can be anything from raising brand awareness to increasing website traffic to promoting a specific seasonal product or service.

After setting your goals, you have to figure out how you’re going to meet them. This is where the creative side of influencer marketing comes into play! Take these two very different campaign directions from FYI customers:

To highlight their family-focused brand, Tylenol asked nearly 40 lifestyle bloggers to answer the question: “How do you celebrate what matters most during the holidays?” Each influencer included Tylenol’s family video in their post, then promoted it using the hashtag #WhatMattersMost and tagged Tylenol on social media.

Zappos Couture wanted to differentiate themselves in the crowded high-end retail marketplace, so they decided to feature a sole celebrity fashion blogger instead of multiple influencers. They partnered with Lauren Conrad to increase buzz – and sales – and her blogging team chose ten items to highlight and link to on Zappos’ site.

Both brands succeeded in making an impact in their own way and boosting holiday brand awareness. So what will work for you?  Once you’ve decided on a campaign direction, you should set up a system of measurement – social engagement, blog views, etc. – and finalize a budget. Then, you can start honing in on finding the right influencers, and inviting them to participate.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with starting an influencer marketing campaign for this holiday season, we can help! Reach out to us with any questions here, or learn more about influencer marketing on our blog.

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