Yes, It’s November and We’re Talking Resolutions

No one really starts thinking about their New Year’s resolutions in November. But what if we got a head start so those health-related resolutions were already a habit by January 1? Maybe you’re not ready to prioritize those resolutions just yet but wouldn’t it be great to better understand some of the health and fitness trends for 2019?

Here at Find Your Influence (FYI), we’re always learning, evolving and working to stay ahead of trends. One of the ways we achieve this is through our family of influencers, like Sarah Dussault. Self-described as “The OG Fitness YouTuber,” Sarah has her finger on the pulse of fitness and has offered up some tips, exclusive to Find Your Influence, about how to set yourself up for success in the new year. We’re sharing her valuable insights, so you too can be ahead of the curve.  

Positive Body Image Role Model

Sarah started making Fitness and YouTube videos in 2006. “I feel very lucky to get in early when I did,” she explained. “I was one of the first three fitness channels on YouTube.”

A lot has changed for Sarah since 2006. The social media landscape has grown. Social media influencer has become a profession. (One she’s really good at, by the way.) But that’s not it. Sarah is now the mom of two boys.

“I used to teach a lot of fitness classes and I made fitness a priority in my life,” the Boston mom explains. “I would try to work out five to six times a week. I was training for marathons. Fitness took up a ton of my time because it was something I enjoyed and it was also part of my career. Fast forward to having two kids and it’s still something I enjoy but I struggle to find that time. Instead of working out five to six days a week, I aim for three or four.”

Having a family has changed Sarah’s fitness priorities. Instead of focusing on looking fit enough to feel like she’s a fitness influencer, she shares, “It’s more about being a positive body-image role model. My health is a top priority but not the same way it was before I had kids.”

Forget the Oreos

As we near the holiday season filled with cocktail parties and sweet treats, it’s hard to know where to indulge and where to draw the line. But Sarah has the aha-answer we’ve all been looking for.

“If there are desserts at a holiday party, select the ones you can only have when you’re there at that party. For example, if someone brought Oreos, you can have those any day of the year. But, if your friend made her grandmother’s secret recipe Christmas cookies, when are you going to be able to have those again? Those are worth the splurge,” she says.

But what about family dinners during the holidays? You know you can count on cranberries, potatoes, stuffing and pie. Sarah says to give yourself a break here. “Many people say that you eat your day’s allotment of calories at Thanksgiving dinner, and that’s a lot. But you’re only doing that once.” Don’t beat yourself up when these meals aren’t a regular occurrence.

Fitness Trends with Friends

Once the gifts are opened, our focus often shifts to New Year’s resolutions. Some of the most common resolutions involve losing weight, eating healthier or going to the gym. What will the fitness and health trends be in 2019?

“I think group exercise is definitely going to be big again,” said Sarah. “People love to sweat with other people because it’s motivating. There’s also something to be said about being held accountable when you sign up for a class.”

But not everyone has the budget or access to a gym. Instead of making excuses, focus your attention instead on having a few essential pieces of equipment at home that will set you up for a good workout. There are apps, or Sarah’s fitness videos on YouTube, that can set you up for success.

A healthy lifestyle is often easier to stay committed to when your family or friends join in. “If you have friends and you love going out to dinner together, maybe instead of dinner, everybody decides, ‘let’s all go to a class at a gym’,” Sarah suggests. Accountability for a workout or a healthy meal with a friend or a partner is important because you’re less inclined to cancel.

Keep it Simple

What healthy eating plans will be trending next year? It may feel like Keto was the health conversation in 2018, however Sarah thinks it’s only getting started. “Personally, I’m not a huge fan of any diet that says bacon is better than fruit. That’s not a diet for me. But people find results. I think it might be a great way to jump-start a weight loss program but I don’t think it’s a long-term solution,” she says.

Sarah also thinks eating less meat is also going to be popular. “People are acknowledging the health benefits of a vegan diet and also the effects it has on the environment.”

When it comes to healthy meal planning for yourself and your family, the goal should always be to keep it simple. “I keep my recipes basic and simple because that’s all I really have time for these days,” explains Sarah as she gets ready to walk to pick up her son from school. “I’ve become a fan of roasting vegetables and potatoes and then have a standard protein that’s easy and simple. You can marinate the protein overnight or cook using a slow cooker.”

Be Basic

When it comes time to make those resolutions, be smart and set yourself up for success.  Be basic, not extra. For Sarah, her goal is to work out three to four days a week which isn’t always possible to do. “When I do hit my goal, I feel so good about myself!” Sarah says emphatically. ‘If my goal was to work out five times a week I would constantly be disappointed.”

Stay in-the-know and ahead of trends with FYI, from your New Year’s health resolutions to the latest consumer trends. If Sarah is “The Og Fitness YouTuber,” then Find Your Influence is “The OG Influencer Marketing Solution.” Stick with us and we will keep you informed so you’re not the last person still doing aerobics with Jane Fonda – unless it works for you, we won’t judge.

 

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Thank you for your service, Brad Shroyer

On November 12, we recognize and remember the military veterans who have bravely and honorably served our great nation.  Brad Shroyer, UI/UX Designer at Find Your Influence, is a veteran of the United States Army.

We recently sat down with Brad to learn more about his time as an Army Specialist serving in the 1st ID.

Thank you for your service, Brad! Can you tell us about who or what inspired you to serve?

“Honestly, my motivation to serve in the Army was to pay for college. At that time, everything was generally ‘good’. It was before September 11, 2001 and it was more of a peaceful time. I was a junior at Penn State when Operation Iraqi Freedom began. I was then deployed to Baqubah, Iraq for a year.”

How old were you when you enlisted?

“I was 18 and in high school when I enlisted in the Army. My parents were supportive and proud. They understood that with four kids, money was going to be tight to send us all to college.”

Are you from a military family?

“My grandfathers were both in the military. One was in the Guadalcanal, in the Pacific, and the other one was in Germany. “

What can you tell us about the time you served, both before and after September 11, 2001?

“I was in Finance Division of the Army. Before September 11, I thought I would just be writing checks and paying bills. After September 11, 2001, my reality turned into me delivering money across Iraq to forward observation bases. I grew up a lot during this time. When I came back, I was a lot more dedicated to school because I appreciated it that much more.

It was really strange when I had two weeks R&R and I came back home. It was over the holidays and everyone was busy shopping at the mall. It was strange to know everything that was happening on the other side of the world and many people back home were just going about their lives, unaffected. It felt bizarre

How has serving our country changed you?

“Serving in the United States Army has given me an appreciation for what we have here in America and our military. Especially the older-generation military. I think they sacrificed a lot more than we did. The number of casualties they faced isn’t anything we see today.”

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

“I think about my grandfathers on Veterans Day. They both completed their service, although one was a prisoner of war in Germany. My grandfather who served in the Guadalcanal did two or three tours over three years. He was an artist also so he used to get paints from the local markets and paint pictures and send to my grandmother. I have some of those paintings now. That’s really special.”

As we celebrate Veterans Day, we salute Brad, and everyone who has served for their service to our country.

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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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Is That a Fake Influencer Behind That Mask?

Halloween is the one day each year we pretend to be someone else. We wear masks, wigs or makeup, all to trick others from knowing who we really are. In influencer marketing, some people do this everyday, not just Halloween.

“Influencer marketing fraud is when a social media influencer displays an unauthentic media presence,” explains Chelsea Goodson, Director of Influencer Marketing at Find Your Influence.

Influencer fraud is alive and well. It’s often a reason some brands may be hesitant to include influencer marketing in their overall marketing strategy. At Find Your Influence, or as our friends call us – FYI, we understand that fraudsters exist and we have a plan to keep them out.

Every influencer in the FYI network has been curated and categorized by an actual human being right here at our Arizona HQ. We use more than 25 data points to evaluate any influencer who opts in. No bots. No spammers. Not a single Russian hacker. When brands engage with influencers from our network, they know they’re getting the real deal.

Some of the influencers you follow today may not be part of the FYI network — yet. We want you to know how to spot the bad apples though. Here are five red flags to look for to spot influencer marketing fraud:

  1. Engagement doesn’t match the influencer’s follower count. For example, 60 likes on a photo for someone who has 20,000 followers may be a red flag. You would generally expect to see a higher engagement.
  2. Questionable comments left on influencer’s posts. This could include the same type of comment repeated numerous times by different followers. “So cute.” “CUTE.” “cute.”
  3. Drastically inconsistent likes per social posts on Instagram. One Instagram post could have 1,000 likes and the post immediately before it could have only 100 likes. You should expect consistency with a trusted influencer.
  4. Some people buy their followers. Seriously! Review an influencer’s followers. Are there many with similar names, short profiles or no posts of their own? This could indicate the followers are not real and were purchased.
  5. Look closely at the content. Is it their own or simply a repost from another popular account? Authentic influencers create their own content that is true to who they are.

On November 1, when the masks and wigs have been put away and the clown makeup has been washed off, look closely at the influencers you follow. Are they still wearing their mask?

 

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The Men of Influencer Marketing: Jorge Guevara

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

Social media influencers can have followers anywhere on the globe. Many of Jorge Guevara’s followers are from South America. Jorge was kind enough to grant us an interview as we continue to learn from the men of influencer marketing.

We want to better understand these men. What inspires them? What are their keys to success? What do they wish they knew when they started?

On Friday, October 19, I spoke with Jorge Guevara to learn more about how he has cultivated his audience. What follows is my conversation with Jorge:

Hi Jorge. I’ve seen your website and your Instagram but what more can you tell me about yourself?  What does it mean to you to be a social media influencer?

“The way I got started was in fitness modeling. Fitness modeling is very saturated now and I felt like I could do so much more than working out and buying meal plans. I actually had a good opportunity in Los Angeles to shoot with a big time fashion photographer and he pretty much opened my eyes and my mind that I could do so much more than just fitness. After that photo shoot, that’s when I figured out that’s what I really wanted to focus on. I started switching my entire image on social media toward high fashion. I worked with different photographers in Chicago, LA and Miami.

It was really tough in the beginning because the audience I had built over the last few years was very fitness-oriented and when I started posting a lot of fashion photos, I began losing a lot of engagement. It took me some time to gain it back and reach a new audience but that’s what the transformation looked like.

To be an influencer you have to find your niche and where you want to motivate people. For me it’s just being motivated in all aspects of your life from fitness, the way you dress, what you eat, taking care of your family and travelling. As an influencer I love to not only show off the brands that I work with and the content I create but also for people who may not have the opportunity to travel, I like to share my photos and videos to share my experiences.”

It’s not often you hear of influencers switching lanes like you did from fitness to fashion. What did that transition look and feel like for you?

“The whole process of going from fitness to fashion lifestyle blogger was very tough. In the beginning people were not used to it so I did lose a lot of followers and engagement. For me it was something I needed to do for myself. To go to high-end fashion brands was hard because my audience was more fitness-oriented. I want to say it took about a year through different brand collaborations and tagging pages on Instagram and although it’s taken time, I’m growing as an influencer. I’m a micro-influencer so I still have a long way to go to catch up. Some people have been doing this for more than ten years.”

Being an influencer is a concept that’s relatively new. How do you define being an influencer to friends and family who may not have been exposed to influencer marketing yet?

“As an influencer, you’re promoting a product or service that you believe in and you want your followers to follow up on. I only promote products or services that I’ve used and truly believe in. I don’t collaborate just to get paid. I do it because I believe in the brand or it’s something I’m going to wear. The easiest way to explain it is it’s something you believe in and you think it would benefit them too.”

What do you know about your audience who follow you?

“I have a big South American audience because I’m from Columbia. Even though I reside in the U.S. now,  I’ve always had a big Latin audience follow me because they can relate to me. I do a lot of videos in Spanish. Anywhere from 24-45 year olds make up my audience. Today that’s about 55% male and 45% female. As you start working with other brands you begin to gain more followers who like your content and that brand.”

As you’ve built your social media following, was there one thing you can point to that came ‘easy’ to you?

“Nothing’s easy. For me, I’ve been lucky to be photogenic so creating content has been fairly easy. Staying consistent with content has been one of the hardest things because you have to post almost every single day. Nothing has been easy because I’m continuing the growth phase in this saturated market where you have to do things that people are not doing. It’s important to me to focus on more aspects of life than just fashion, like travel too. I’ll always have fitness to incorporate in because that’s a huge part of my life that I want to promote, just not as much as I used to before.”

Is there a community of fitness or lifestyle influencers that you’re collaborating with on a regular basis?

“I’ve seen more collaboration with male influencers since it isn’t as big yet as the community of female influencers. For guys, we do a lot of collaboration on events or brands that may be looking for another guy. I’m always looking to help other people out because I know they would look out for me if they had the opportunity. At the end of the day it’s all about helping each other out and creating something different.”

Is there a brand that you aspire to work with?

“That’s easy, it’s Tom Ford. As I’ve grown as an influencer I’ve made so much progress with the brands I’ve worked with. I started with the small mom and pops and on to the smaller and medium brands. It’s getting to the point where the quality of content you’re putting out there and the brands you start tagging begin to notice you and inquire about you. I did a campaign with Lucky last year that was huge for me. It put me on the map for brands who are on the same level as them. It really helped me push my name and image to another level.”

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The Men of Influencer Marketing: Brian Morr

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

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?

On Wednesday, September 26, I spoke with Brian Morr, a menswear and lifestyle influencer based in New York City. Brian’s blog, Sink the Sun, chronicles his life and brand experiences in the Big Apple. What follows is our conversation:

It’s great to meet you, Brian. Tell me more about you. How did you get started in the world of influencer marketing?

“I currently work at a hotel in SoHo, in New York City. I’ve been working there for five years now. I’m originally from Long Island. Right after college I went back to live back home with my parents close to the beach so I started taking photos of the beach, myself at the beach and then myself in the city when I got my job in SoHo. It kind of just took off from there. There wasn’t  a point in time when I gained a lot of followers, it just happened organically over time, which was pretty cool. I’m often asked for tips or tricks of how it happened but it just happened on it’s own. I guess people liked the things I was posting, so I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll run with this.”

How has Instagram worked for you? Are you using other social channels too?

I mainly use Instagram for collaborations, ads and things like that. I do have a blog too. I created the blog after the Instagram following took off because I wondered if Instagram may only be a fad that I would still have everything available on my blog. It’s a great outlet to get all of my thoughts out. I was an English major in college so I use that to my advantage in creating content like blog posts.”

I’ve spoken to a few influencers and a common thread is that many of you seem to have earned your degrees in English or Communications. This has proven helpful when creating unique content.

“That content, that message, It’s what we want to say to our audience and it’s very important how we word everything. It’s been really helpful to me to have that background.”

Let’s talk about your followers. Do they all fit into the same general category or different categories? How would you describe them?

“The majority of my followers, I think 80 percent, are male. I do a lot of men’s fashion and promote a lot of men’s brands on Instagram. I’ve done a lot of collaborations with alcohol brands too, which may be more appealing to guys. The demographic of my followers is somewhat similar to myself, although I do have 20 percent female following, but I’m geared more generally to men. My following is more New York-based than anything. It’s cool because I see a lot of people in the city that have recognized me. It’s pretty cool how this whole platform came to be and came to be something great for me.”

You mentioned engaging with your followers. Aside from them recognizing you on the street, what does your engagement with your followers look like?

“I do get emails here and there about style tips and questions. They are really few and far between. I do get a ton of direct messages, which I think is a lot more than other influencer friends who I’ve spoken to. Most of the  stories I put on Instagram are pretty relatable. I do get comments on my photos but more often direct messages about my stories or my style or where I’ve gotten something. I usually wake up each morning with 30-35 new direct messages. And I do answer all of them. I think this helps my engagement grow.”

You mentioned that you also work in a hotel. Is your role as in influencer your side hustle or are you looking to make that your primary hustle?

“It’s definitely something I’m thinking of doing soon. My current job at the hotel doesn’t interfere with the influencer side of my life. They’re very helpful when it comes to needing days off and they even let me take photos in the hotel. Right now I work 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the hotel and then have the rest of my day available to dedicate to shooting. I have the weekends off so I spend much of my weekend taking photos and creating content. It is pretty crazy, it’s two full-time jobs at this point. It’s awesome that I could take a hobby and turn it into something greater, turning it into something I love.”

You’ve worked with many different brands. What brands have been your favorites and why?

“I did a campaign with Heineken. With them I went Ultra in Miami and Coachella. It was like a yearly campaign which was really cool. That was more geared toward male influencers, all about Heineken, all about beer.

I did a few things with Timex and they were really cool to work with. I love watches and enjoy the opportunities I’ve had to work with different watch brands.”

What brand has resonated the most, or had the most engagement with your followers?

“I did a cool campaign with Reebok over the summer that got a lot of comments and messages. It was a new shoe line made from renewable material. Those pictures came out great and it was an all around awesome campaign. I heard from the agency that the brand itself did well from it.”

What, or whom, inspires you?

“Moving to New York City a few years ago has inspired me to get up and go and do this for a living. Living the New York City life has inspired pretty much all of my work. Everyday I see people hustling and doing everything they can to survive and thrive here. That’s really inspiring to me.”

In the world of influencer marketing, it appears to be heavily female. As a male influencer, tell me about the community of influencers you engage with. How would you describe that community?

“I definitely think women have the upper hand at this, which is not a bad thing at all. Women have started this influencer marketing revolution and that’s awesome. Male influencing is a whole different ball game. We have our own little group. When I go to events, I’m often asked if I know many women influencers. I really don’t because every event I go to for a brand is primarily a male event. There are a ton of new influencers popping up every week which is awesome. More competition is more incentive to work harder. For every one male influencer there is probably ten female influencers fighting for jobs. I think it’s pretty cool that guys have caught on to it and are now able to do it for a living.”

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Fasten Your Seat Belt: Influencer Marketing Will Dominate Ad Budgets by 2020

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. If you haven’t already done so, please return to your seat and fasten your seat belt.” 

For those of us working in digital marketing, it’s time we consider buckling up too.Since 2013, influencer marketing has hit the runway with many of the top brands in the U.S. relying on this marketing tactic to create word-of-mouth awareness around hundreds of thousands of products and services.

Welcome to IMS flight 2020 

In 2013, I managed an influencer marketing program for a publicly traded company in Arizona. Back then, most advertising budgets were newly focused on display advertising while influencer marketing was new and unproven. My colleague, Cristine Vieira, and I had some early success with influencer marketing campaigns, primarily with bloggers, and wanted to scale by leveraging technology. Unfortunately, we couldn’t identify an existing technology to meet our needs. So, we decided to build our own.

We launched Find Your Influence in 2013 and were quickly able to create a network of influencers who were looking to connect with brands appealing directly to their followers. Today our influencer platform includes a community of influencers exceeding 100,000, an attractive quality to some of the largest household brands.

Over the past five years, we’ve been fortunate to be a part of the takeoff of successful influencer marketing solutions (IMS). However, this industry has not yet reached its cruising altitude. What’s coming in the next two years will, however, allow brands to scale and reach greater heights. 

In 2017, ChiefMarketer.comcited a study by ANA and PQ Media showing that brand spending on influencer marketing is expected to reach $101 billion by 2020, a 25 percent increase over 2016. While advertising budgets themselves aren’t growing, the influx of dollars toward influencer marketing will be shifting from traditional media advertising: television, radio and print to influencer-driven campaigns. 

It’s also interesting to note how advertisers are responding to this relatively new tactic. According to findings from a 2018 survey by the Association of National Advertisers, “Advertisers love influencer marketing.” The report further explains “…a full 75 percent of their companies currently employ the discipline and 43 percent are planning to increase spending over the course of the next 12 months.” Seeing this type of growth already planned proves that we are on the edge of something special. 

Your life vest is located under your seat  

As brands begin investing more dollars into this marketing channel, the influencer community will begin to look like the TSA line at an international airport – – countless people trying to make their way through the process. The number of influencers available to brands has not reached its full potential either. Everyday there are hundreds of fresh voices trying to become the newest large-scale influencers.  

Influencer reach is the first-class ticket for a brand. Everyone thinks that being an influencer is an easy gig, when in reality, it’s really quite hard. These influencers must focus a significant amount of time on establishing their brand, keeping up with relevant content and building a follower base. As far as engagement, they either have it or they don’t. 

I’m often asked what brands are really looking for from influencer marketing. The answer is simple: brands today are trying to target the 12-35 age range. They can do this through many advertising channels, but most efficiently through influencer marketing. Influencers will be getting younger as brands demand to reach these younger audiences. 

With the shift in ad dollars leaning more heavily on influencer marketing, how do you know if your brand is ready for influencer marketing? Start with these five questions. 

  • What is the level of brand awareness for your product or service? 
  • Are you reaching your target audience four or five times with the same campaign? 
  • Which marketing channels are underperforming for your brand? 
  • Are you ready to amplify your message across social media? 
  • With a low cost to entry, isn’t word-of-mouth advertising (influencer marketing) worth beta testing to start? 

Please take a few moments to locate your nearest exit

A recent Forbes piece opened with, “Influencer marketing is having a moment right now.” Sure, you could call it a moment. However, it could be more aptly described by flight control that influencer marketing has been cleared for takeoff.  

A recent report by Forrester, “New Tech: Influencer Marketing Solutions, Q3 2018” looked closely at 34 influencer marketing solutions, yet noted that there are nearly 100 vendors in the space.  A market so large can’t thrive but will begin to consolidate in a similar fashion to how digital technology solutions have consolidated over the last decade. Display advertising was the perfect example of there being 100 different companies and over time, they all began consolidating and becoming larger media companies together.  

Consolidation is the next destination on the IMS journey when you look at the global financing history. CB Insights shows funding peaked in 2015 with 45 deals netting $169 million. While the number of individual deals peaked in 2016, funding has continued to decline year over year, proving success with those solutions that continue to meet the needs of large brands. 

Sit back, relax and enjoy the flight

If we look to 2020 as the point we reach cruising altitude with greater demand and a larger community of influencers, we will then shift our focus to the horizon. To avoid turbulence for your brand or to avoid getting lost in the inevitable jet stream of your competitors, request a demo of the Find Your Influence platform today. 

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Why Engagement Is The Most Important Metric… Ever.

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By Courtney Moser

 

Is it better to reach 10,000 or 50,000 potential consumers?

Trick question: Neither one matters if there isn’t engagement. You can reach as many people as possible, but if nothing comes out of those impressions, there is no value in them. As shocking as that may seem at first, engagement is what proves people are listening; that they care about what you’re saying or appreciate what you’re offering. Without that feedback, you may as well be sending your message into outer space.

The real impact of influencer marketing surpasses celebrities and increased awareness – ultimately, it can turn passive browsers into active customers and paid influencers into long-term brand advocates. How? It all goes back to engagement.

Marketing guru Jay Baer once said: “True influence drives action, not just awareness.” If a campaign is powerful enough, it will make consumers want to engage – whether by way of likes, comments, shares, clicks or buys. Those goals will be different, depending on your strategy, but the ultimate measure of value remains the same.

When you focus on engagement in your influencer marketing campaign, you’re prioritizing quality over quantity. The benefits of this strategy include:

  • More meaningful connections
  • Increased credibility
  • Higher intent to purchase

Influencers who have higher engagement on their blog or social networks are likely closer to their followers. And a higher engagement doesn’t mean a large reach. It can be more valuable to partner with a small, niche influencer who specifically speaks to your target audience than a random famous figure. In fact, this study found that we are “50 times more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend than a celebrity or internet personality.”

Smaller influencers often become friends to their followers, and that trust is critical when it comes to influencing digital communities. By working with these influencers, you can build on their credibility to cultivate relationships and encourage brand loyalty. And once you’re in with them, celebrate! It’s been proven that word-of-mouth marketing results in a 37 percent higher retention rate.

“Once your social media foundation has been laid, you should forget the big names and focus on those influencers with the highest engagement… It’s important to remember that an engaged audience will grow itself, but an unengaged audience will not grow much at all,” this Entrepreneurarticle says.

For all of the above reasons – and many more – prioritizing engagement is the key to success in your influencer marketing efforts. Contact the Find Your Influence team today to start driving engagement and turning influence into action.

 

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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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