The Men of Influencer Marketing: Alan Lawrence

This is part four of an ongoing series where we will come to know more about the men of influencer marketing.

Social media influencers are everywhere. Seriously. Everywhere. But have you looked closely at who these people really are? At Find Your Influence (FYI), we have more than 100,000 influencers who have opted in to our network to be discovered by brands around the world.

When I first started at FYI in August 2018, I was shocked by how many women are part of the FYI network. 84 percent are female. That leaves just 16 percent of the network led by men.  

Who are these men? What makes them so successful? Why do they do what they do?

On Monday, October 15, I spoke with Alan Lawrence of That Dad Blog to learn more about his beautiful family and what inspired him to start his blog. What follows is my conversation with Alan:

Tell me about yourself, Alan. How did you get started as a blogger? Is this a full time role or a side hustle?

“When my second youngest son was born with Down Syndrome, it was pretty traumatic for me. In the following months I realized it was something that was more of a blessing than a negative. I felt guilty about that. When he was born and I was looking for different resources available about Down Syndrome, I noticed there weren’t a lot of positive articles available, especially coming from dads. I wanted to be part of the good news. Years ago when you would search for information about Down Syndrome it was all negative news. I wanted to create something different that would rise above all that to show that while there are some challenges, there is also a lot of joy.

As time went on, I started to feel more comfortable talking about my personal interests and my family of six kids. The idea of big families in today’s society is really where I’ve found my niche today.

Chick-Fil-A was the first brand to reach out to me and asked if I would be interested in getting involved in a campaign. And I thought it would be fun to try. It felt really natural and they liked the content. From there I really started thinking about putting my foot in the influencer realm. It’s really just gone from there.

When my son was born, I was working full time in the marketing department for a running shoe company. I’m also a photographer and a graphic designer.  I had the opportunity to create a couple of fun photo series with my kids that went viral. The last two weeks actually have become a little bit more full time for me on the social side for me.”

Is the blog where this all started? How have you transitioned to other social platforms?

“Currently I’m using my blog, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Instagram is really where it took off. My blog and Instagram were started at the same time but it was the photos of my son Will flying that really caught everyone’s attention and gave me the thought of taking this onto a bigger storytelling platform. Once Will was born, I wanted to share my Instagram for more than just personal platform but to help other dads who may be going through the same challenges with special needs kids as I was.

As things started to grow on Instagram and my blog, I started using Facebook. In 2015 I started using YouTube as a way to vlog. I really like telling stories through video.”

You’re active and engaged across four channels. Where do you find the time?

“I’m still trying to manage the time between being a good dad, working full time and then doing this on the side. I’ve now gone part time in my other role because it finally got to the time where the brand collaborations and partnerships are able to float us financially. I’m slowly stepping away from a job that I really loved to do something that I love even more. I’m walking with faith into this new direction in my career and hopefully take it to the point where I can fully step away from my other job and put more time into this. “

I can hear your passion and enthusiasm for this! In order to build something so strong across all of these platforms, you have to be committed to your followers. Tell me about them and how you engage with them.

“It’s kind of funny that my accounts are called ‘That Dad Blog’ so you would think the majority of the people who follow me are men but it’s 90 percent women. I work in partnership with my wife quite a bit. I feel like I’m a lot more open than the average male in my demographic would be as far as sharing personal feelings. I find myself reaching out to my wife to find out what she thinks, from a female perspective. I really appreciate her opinion and it’s valuable knowing that 90 percent of my followers are women.

As far as the interactions with the men who follow me, it’s very personal. I feel like men feel too vulnerable in sharing and putting themselves out there. That’s one thing that I’ve tried to help with, to let men know that they have a voice out there. Women are doing a great job but we also need to talk about the father’s feelings and create support groups through social media to be able to help dads express their feelings and be better dads. We need to learn from each other.

There are a lot of personal struggles I share, specifically related to having a child with special needs. I shared about how it was really hard, and about how I was not happy at first to know that my son had Down Syndrome. I didn’t want to sugarcoat that, I wanted to be honest. A lot of people responded and appreciated the honesty. People want to know the good news but finding a cadence and the balance of the good and the bad is important. Being honest and feeling comfortable putting yourself out there was a real struggle for me at the start. It’s become much easier for me as I began trusting the people who follow us after having open, honest and real conversations with them.’

Since it’s called “That Dad Blog,” tell me a little about your family.

“We have six children ranging from 16 to 3. They’re all so different from one another. My oldest, my daughter is kind of a shy, really intelligent introvert. Her brother, my oldest son, is very outgoing, charismatic and has a really great sense of humor. Our second oldest son is a mix between his older siblings. He’s in that awkward 11-year old stage right now where he’s trying to figure himself out. He really loves his younger brothers and has a good heart but leans more toward the shy side. My daughter Ali struggles with weight but is a really confident girl who likes to take over my Instagram Stories sometimes. I think sassy is a good way to describe her. It’s the cutest thing. It’s kind of created a separate following. People keep asking me to have her create her own account but I think she’s too young right now. My two younger boys Wil (5), who happens to have Down Syndrome, and Rockwell (3). I tell most of my stories around my two youngest because it’s kind of this dynamic about my son who has Down Syndrome and his brother who is this “average” kid. I think that’s the dynamic that people really enjoy watching because it’s a big family in general but also watching my younger two grow up together.

My oldest daughter doesn’t really like to be in pictures, she’s kind of a private person so I respect that with her. Ali is very open to most anything, she wants to be a YouTube star herself. My two older boys are timid but they are open to it.

My wife is the glue that holds it all together. She’s the one who keeps me sane and on track. She’s the rock. We’ve been married for 23 years now.”

Along the way, you’ve worked with different brands. Tell me what you’re looking for in a brand partner.

“I’m looking for something that I would actually use or something that can help to make my life better. At the start, when I was kind of new to it, I agreed to promote some brands that ultimately didn’t feel natural. I did one for a food brand that I wasn’t really interested in and didn’t end up feeling was a good fit but I guess I more or less did it for the experience. It didn’t flow right and my followers could tell it wasn’t authentic.

Doing things that feel right, that we actually use and that we can get behind are what we look for.”

Are there other dad bloggers who you follow?

The biggest one I follow is Father of Daughters. He is a great writer and I love his sense of humor.  Him and his wife have a fun dynamic. I know he works part time along with doing his social media so I can relate to that challenge.

I feel like there’s not a strong community of dad bloggers that is easy to find. There is a small network of dads that I’ve found through their outreach or I’ve stumbled upon through Instagram search. This smaller network includes dads of kids with special needs that I’ve become friends with. I’m friends with a lot of mommy bloggers whom I speak with a lot but not a lot of dads. I don’t mean for that to sound terrible but it’s something I can be a voice in helping to change in some way so dads can feel comfortable sharing their opinions too.”

 

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The Men of Influencer Marketing: Parker York Smith

This is part one of an ongoing series where we will come to know more about the men of influencer marketing. 

It’s not often you find an industry where women have a commanding position over men. At Find Your Influence (FYI), we have more than 100,000 influencers who have opted in to our network to be discovered by brands around the world. Taking a closer look at the FYI network, 84 percent are female. That leaves 16 percent of the network led by men.

Who are these men? What makes them so successful? How have they built their personal brands?

This is part one of an ongoing series where we will come to know more about the men of influencer marketing.

On Monday, September 24, I spoke with Parker York Smith, a fashion and lifestyle influencer known as The LookSmith. What follows is our conversation:

Hey Parker! Tell me a little about yourself. How did you get started as an influencer?

“I started out a little over three years ago, it was like mid-2015. I was living in Los Angeles. My now wife, then girlfriend, saw me struggling trying to become an actor. I wasn’t enjoying it that much. She knew that I had gone to school for journalism and that I loved fashion. She suggested that I start taking photos of my outfits and putting them on the internet with my thought process about why I put it together the way I did. I had always been a style person even when it wasn’t my career. I started a website, went on to Instagram and started posting photos. There were a few people who were doing it already but not a good amount. My wife had met someone who was doing it full time who inspired her to even realize it was a career path. She encouraged me to start doing it and I did and little by little it turned into something. I’m fortunate being in Los Angeles because there are a lot of brands. It felt easy to me when I started to partner with some smaller brands early on and develop their content catalogue while also allowing me the opportunity to learn the ropes of fashion branding and the content creation side which is what I’ve grown to love. From three years ago to now it’s been a steady grind of lots of content, lots of partnerships, lots of ups and downs with social media. It’s provided me with incredible opportunities that I will always love and appreciate. I’m willing to admit that it can be a bit of a grind at times. I got my foot in the door at the right time when it wasn’t something that was super saturated.”

Tell me about the platforms you use today. Do you focus on just one platform or multiple?

“I originally started with Instagram and a website, cooperatively. I wanted to write a blog because I enjoy writing – my background and my degree is in journalism. Instagram became so essential and it was such an easy opportunity to showcase the visual side of everything. About a year ago, I started doing video because it really allows me to share my personality and my knowledge and hopefully inspire people to start to take themselves more seriously in terms of their style and confidence. I’ve been really loving video and am realizing that is where I want to end up in the future.”

Do you have any plans to expand across other social platforms?

“I have a Twitter page that I love but it’s just a way for me to push content from other channels. It’s really there as another outlet but not really a focus. I love shoes and Twitter is where I do a lot of research about upcoming releases or collaborations. Snapchat is on my phone but I don’t really use it. With the introduction of Instagram stories it made more sense for me to create videos where my audience already was as opposed to cultivating an entirely new audience.”

Tell me a little about your followers.

“My followers are 80 percent male. Mainly 24-34. Mostly American but a big chunk in London too. I’m starting to build a decent audience in other parts of the world too, thanks to YouTube, which is really exciting. Guys like me who enjoy style but aren’t trying to be wearing the most crisp suit and tie everyday. It’s more about expressing yourself through different style genres.”

Having followers is great but engagement is what really matters. How do your followers engage with you?

“As it relates to engagement, my biggest focus is to have a group of truly engaged, highly interested followers. It doesn’t have to be a gigantic number but engagement is important, I want my content seen because it makes it more exciting for me to create more when I know that it’s out there being seen by the most people. At the same time, I’m a strong believer in interacting with my followers. I answer all of my DM’s about my content or questions related to style in general. One of my favorite things is that I’ll have guys send me photos of them getting ready and they’ll show two different types of shoes with their outfit and ask me which one works better. It’s so cool to be able to have that direct connection with someone who may be thousands of miles away. I’m definitely more focused on being available, being approachable and being someone who people feel comfortable reaching out to, knowing that I’m going to provide solid, honest feedback. I’m not about making people feel that fashion is unattainable or that I’m living some lavish lifestyle that is out of their reach.”

Now let’s talk campaigns. What are some of your favorite brands that you’ve worked with?

“I have an ongoing partnership with a brand called Greats, a Brooklyn-based sneaker company that is one of my favorite brands in general. They are awesome. I love what they do. I love their product. Their whole business model is great. They give me and my wife the freedom to really create some amazing content for them. We work together on a lot of stuff which is fun.”

Is there a brand you aspire to work with?

“In thinking about a brand that I would aspire to work with, as someone who loves sneakers, I would love to be able to collaborate with a shoe brand either on an existing product line or get involved from the ground up in the design process. I don’t look at it like, ‘I need to work with this brand,’ or ‘I need to work with that brand,’ it’s more of trying to be excited about the brands I am working with. Helping them while also being true to my brand and my values.”

What inspires you?

“The thing that inspires me most is being able to have an honest impact on people. Whether that’s giving them on idea on what they can be wearing or giving them more confidence to try a new hairstyle, whatever it is, I’ve been where they are before. Having an impact and helping people be the best version of themselves is what inspires me more than anything.”

Let’s talk about your peers, other male fashion influencers. Help me understand the relationship you have with them.

“Within the male fashion influencer space, it’s a pretty collaborative scene.  It’s not competitive, in my experience. Because I feel strongly that I want to provide as much value as possible, if it’s realistic to think someone else is going to provide more value for a specific style or brand, so be it. I would obviously love to get every job and work with everybody but that’s just not realistic. I don’t feel competitive but instead I feel inspired because many of the other influencers are just killing it. Many of them produce content that I follow that inspire me and give me ideas to tweak my content. I choose to look at it as a much more a motivational factor and to be excited for these guys and their success.  There have been opportunities where brands have come to other influencers and say ‘We actually need three more guys, can you recommend anyone?’ and because we have good relationships and they trust my ability, they offer my name to the brand. I’ve gotten several jobs because of this. I like to be up front and honest with my peers that we’re all in this together. This isn’t something we need to be fighting against one another.”

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6 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Influencer

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By: Courtney Moser

Ten thousand and one, ten thousand and two… oh, never mind. We’re not even going to pretend that we know how many bloggers and social media users are online today. The total number is overwhelming and constantly increasing! With so many influencers out there, how do you know who to choose for a campaign? The truth is, there are a billion factors you could consider when choosing influencers to work with. A few key metrics will certainly make the search easier, but it’s also important to consider the big picture and ask: “Does this influencer make sense for my brand?”

When evaluating influencers, here are the six most important factors to consider, from the bottom up.

6. Traffic

The most straightforward metric to rely on is blog traffic. If an influencer has a lot of daily visitors, then you can pretty much guarantee a certain amount of impressions. This is a great starting point and a metric that should always be considered, but it’s not the only thing you should look at. Plus, have you learned anything from banner ads? Impressions don’t necessarily mean high engagement or lead to conversions. There are a lot of other factors that comprise the big picture.

5. Social networks

One of the main reasons you shouldn’t depend solely on blog traffic is that influencers span many networks. It’s possible for an influencer to have a low or mediocre blog following, but have a huge social media reach on certain platforms. And social media can lead to high conversion rates. An influencer with an impressive social fan base could easily be more influential than an influencer with high blog traffic – it just depends on where your audience is and which platforms align with your goals.

4. Total Reach

The best of both worlds is total reach. To get this metric, you start by figuring out your influencers’ blog traffic or blog subscribers. Then, you add the social platforms they have a presence on – either combining total fans or getting more detailed insight from the influencers. Finally, calculate total reach and compare to other influencers. Prepare to be surprised: it’s possible for an influencer with an average following on many platforms to have a higher reach than an influencer with one stellar platform.

When you’re looking at total reach and traffic numbers, it’s vital to keep it all in perspective. Numbers don’t mean everything, and “celebrity” influencers aren’t always the way to go. It has to make sense for your brand to be real. As wisely said in this article, “Inauthenticity kills trust.”

3. Engagement

As we said above, it’s not all about numbers (gasp!). An influencer can have a high reach but also a high bounce rate. If your campaign goals are more focused on engagement – if you’re measuring new subscriber comments or promoting an interactive contest – then this metric might be more important to you than reach.

To determine engagement, start with the influencer’s blog. Are people commenting? Does the influencer have email subscribers? These are all questions to ask if you’re considering working with an influencer. Then, move on to the social platforms. Are people commenting, liking, retweeting and sharing? Ask influencers for their engagement metrics to better understand their impact.

2.  Fan demographics

Influencer marketing helps brands reach new consumers – and more importantly, targeted consumers. For the best results, you want to find influencers with a fan base who would love your brand. So, start with your own demographic data — what age groups, location and marital status make up your biggest customer segments? Next, find influencers who have an audience that falls in those specific targets.

If you’re a local brand, be sure to find influencers who have an active voice in your city or state. If your customers are often married with children, parenting bloggers might be a great fit. There are many ways to go about this, depending on how much you know about your segments and demographic data.

1. Content

The most critical thing to consider when choosing influencers is whether or not the influencer’s content, interests and voice match the quality and goals of your brand. Content is king, always. An influencer with a high reach in an unrelated industry is much less effective than a small influencer with a passionate fan base in your industry. Make sure to choose relevant influencers who are developing high-quality content.

This advice from Forbes best illustrates the sum of all six factors: “Just because a person has an impressive number of followers, doesn’t mean they actually wield any real persuasive power. Take time to do a deep dive into the analytics to understand the influencer’s audience. Who are they? Are they engaged? How often? How does the influencer interact with her followers? What do they talk about? Is the relationship genuine? Would your brand make sense in their life?”

And remember: Before you launch a campaign, it’s important to outline specific campaign goals. With the right goals, metrics and content concepts in place, it will be a lot easier to choose influencers based on your campaign needs.

Of course, if you need help finding influencers, we’re available here at Find Your Influence.

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How to Win Fans and Influence Consumers: Provide Feedback to Your Influencers

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By Courtney Moser

It’s not all about you.

We can get so caught up in the chaos of business – deadlines, campaigns, reports, meetings, and so on – that we forget how important feedback is. The success of your future influencer marketing campaigns depends on your influencers, their high-quality content and the relationship you cultivate with them. Basically? Don’t leave your influencers hanging after a campaign!

According to Social Media Today, 70% of consumers would rather learn about a product through content than traditional advertising. And who is the content expert here? Your influencers. Let’s not forget about them and their role in telling your story, increasing awareness, driving website traffic and improving engagement.

In fact, UK beauty video blogger Fleur de Force advises companies to “approach influencers and say ‘this is our idea, how does it fit into your content?’ Nobody knows their audience better than the influencer themselves.”

Influential bloggers are followed for their unique voice and writing or photography style, so brands should respect that creativity in sponsored content as well. Recent eMarketer research found that 77 percent of influencers site creative freedom as a primary reason for choosing to work with a brand more than once.  From the beginning of your campaign, everyone should be on the same page. Clear communication is vital, and you should be working as a team toward your end goals.

Share feedback with your influencers both during and after your influencer marketing campaign for the best results. This way, there’s a positivity around your professional partnership. While the campaign is still going, for example, you can send messages about content you loved, share their social posts or privately let them know if something needs to be changed or edited. If a piece of content is different than your brand would like or expected, it’s critical to reach out to the influencer immediately to discuss before it goes any farther in the campaign.

Sending a personal message, small gift or thank you note to your influencers after the campaign is a great way to plant a seed for a future partnership. Liking and commenting on their social posts is another way to keep the opportunity for future collaboration open. Show gratitude for the time and effort they put into it, and continue to demonstrate why you’re a worthy, authentic brand to work with in this crowded market.

To learn more about influencer marketing, check out our best practices series here.

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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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3 Reasons Your Campaign Content Failed

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By: Courtney Gibb

 

What does success look like to you? As a blogger, creating great content to engage followers is often the overarching goal: You want your readers to get excited, comment, click and share. High-quality content builds interest and turns browsers into followers.

When you’re partnering with a brand, however, there’s more on the line and those relationships can become more complicated.  Along with engaging your readers, you have to factor in the brand’s requirements, measurements and goals.  So don’t be discouraged if a branded blog post doesn’t perform the way you expected at first.

Think of it as a learning experience, and keep improving. Over at Find Your Influence (FYI), we have identified three of the top reasons that campaign content can fail (aka learn from us and avoid making these mistakes!).

1. The brand wasn’t a good fit

You know the expression, “Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole?” It can be really exciting when a brand or advertiser wants to work with you, especially if it’s a popular brand or one that you love. But don’t let that cloud your judgment. Your fans come first. That’s why you have to make sure that the brand is a good fit for your blog, readers, and goals – otherwise your fans may be surprised, annoyed or bored with the content in your sponsored post.

And that could not only lead to lost credibility, but it may also negatively impact your engagement numbers for the campaign. Everyone loses. So, only partner with brands that make sense for your blog.

2. Your post lacked your usual passion or voice

When you’re writing a post for a brand, there’s often a lot of specifications, requirements and suggestions. It can turn into something that feels like a lot of work, and get disheartening fast. The result might be a post that hits every single requirement, but lacks your usual passion and voice—which is a problem.

The brand is paying you because your voice is powerful. If you lose your passion, you’re not producing the type of content that a brand (or your fans) is expecting. Just because the post prompt isn’t what you expected, or wanted, doesn’t mean you can slack off. After all, you’re getting paid. Put just as much work — maybe even a little more — into it as you would your favorite posts.

3. You didn’t measure the campaign correctly

Measurement is key when you’re working with marketers. If you miss the instructions on how to track your post success correctly, you’ve basically disrupted the entire marketing universe. The brand won’t know how to justify, analyze or learn from the results of the campaign. So, make sure you track appropriately.

The great thing about data is that you can usually find a measurement that works best for you and your strengths. If you think the brand should be measuring a campaign a different way, tell them! And even if the brand says no, consider adding your metric to the mix. This way you’ll have something to fall back on if the brand’s metrics don’t work out for your post.

Have you run into any other pitfalls with brand campaigns? Share what you’ve learned in the comments!

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