To Succeed with Influencer Marketing, Don’t Forget that it’s Marketing

It’s called Influencer Marketing — so why don’t marketers approach it like marketing?

By: NG Gordon – @DearMishuDad  Email me your questions about Influencer Marketing to ng[at]dearmishudad[dot]com

Influencer Marketing is – no doubt – here to stay for the foreseeable future. It also may be the hottest, most trendy topic in marketing: in a recent survey 74% of marketing decision makers state that they have allocated a budget for influencer marketing (source: OnBrand). Yet time and again I hear people — even very good marketing professionals — confuse marketing and sales when it comes to Influencers (and make serious mistakes as a result).

As someone who has worked on both the Influencer and the brand side, and who has over 20 years of B2B and B2C marketing experience, I’d like to bring some clarity to this topic. For the purposes of this discussion I will focus on micro-, middle, and macro-influencers (and not the Kardashians).

1. “Marketing” …. not Sales

Before we continue – a quick primer on the difference between marketing and sales:
〉Marketing is all about getting the buyer’s attention and interest. Sales is closing the deal.
Marketing’s task is to prep the prospects for the sales team. It can be through Social Media, advertising, email, and other marketing channels.
Marketing takes the football to the 0 to the 50 yard line, and Sales takes it from the 50 yard line to the endzone.
Marketing  = money out the door. Sales = money in the door.

Yet somehow we forget this when it comes to Influencer Marketing. Perhaps because it’s online, we confuse it with sales or PPC and expect to be able to draw a straight line from an influencer marketing campaign to an uptick in sales. But that is not how marketing works.
With that in mind….

2. “Positive Bias”

The idea behind influencer marketing — and really all types of marketing — is to create a “positive bias” at as early a stage as possible (we call it the “priming stage”) of the consumer journey. Working with Influencers is a very efficient way to acquire that positive bias and build consumer trust because Influencers have already built a strong relationship with their own tribe/followers and they are trusted and credible.

Influencers work hard everyday (and often nights too) to create that bond with their followers and, as a result, people LISTEN to them and consider them an authority in their area of influence (which is why they’re called “Influencers”). Understanding Influencers this way makes it very clear that working with them is part of a marketing strategy. The idea behind #InfluencerMarketing -- and really all types of marketing -- is to create a “positive bias” at an early a stage as possible (we call it the “priming stage”) of the consumer journey. Click To Tweet

3. It’s more powerful if someone else talks about you instead of YOU talking about yourself.  

If marketing is about getting attention and interest, what better way to do that than to have others talk about you? We all know that it is always more powerful when someone else talks about you instead of YOU talking about yourself.

But that means actually letting the Influencers talk about you. One consequence of forgetting that working with Influencers is a marketing strategy, is that people often act as if they’re designing an ad when they hire an influencer. This is the wrong approach. If you try tell the Influencer exactly what to post, what you’ll end up with is indeed an Ad — and then you are missing the point and the value.

If all you want is an Ad, then you’re in the wrong place, because Influencer Marketing is NOT advertising. Instead, it’s a new and exciting marketing channel. What distinguishes Influencer Marketing from advertising is that it builds trust in your brand in ways that advertising cannot. It’s all about that third party recommendation!  

So, let influencers be themselves — they’re Influencers for a reason One consequence of forgetting that working with #Influencers is a marketing strategy, is that people often act as if they’re designing an ad when they hire an influencer. This is the wrong approach. Click To Tweet

4.  If it’s Marketing, it should focus on brand, or community building, not product

Almost all #endorsed Influencer posts are about the product. That’s understandable because Influencer Marketing is still in its infancy, but it’s a bad approach for brands that want to maximize their return on investment.

I would argue that since Influencer Marketing is “marketing” (and not sales), the focus should be on marketing the brand and its story, as well as community building, rather than product sales. In fact, it’s perhaps best to start the marketing before you even have a product, to get feedback and generate excitement (that’s what Amazon does with its soon-to-be released services).

Once there is an interest in your brand, in your company, in your community — then it is time to call in the sales team close the sale. Once there is an interest in your brand, in your company, in your community, coming from the #Influencers, -- then it is time to call in the sales team to close the sale. Click To Tweet

5. Send them inside, not outside.

And so, if we are asking Influencers to get people to trust our brands and pay attention to our stories, why would it be a good idea for them to send their followers to your website or Amazon to buy your product? It wouldn’t.

Aside from the fact that people don’t like to leave the social media app they are using to visit an outside link, you’re also defeating the purpose of the marketing campaign and damaging the Influencer’s ability to use the trust people have in them to support your branding.

Influencer marketing: Send them inside, not outside.

A better idea is for Influencers to send people to your brand’s account on the same social media platform that they’ve posted on for you. That should be the CTA (call-to-action) on the post. Your goal is to integrate the Influencer’s followers into your community, and go from there.  Your goal is to integrate the Influencer’s followers into your community, and go from there. #InfluencerMarketing #DoItRight Click To Tweet

6. Those Influencer creatives are yours!

As any marketing manager knows, it’s really hard to build a content generating machine that is creative and converts for months and months (even if you have the most creative employees on earth, they begin to think the same way after a while, and it becomes..boring and homogeneous somehow).  

The great thing about working with multiple influencers as part of your marketing campaign is that you get a lot of varied, diverse, and unique content – all of which supports your branding, but in different ways.

So let Influencers create that content for you (see #3 above) and…make sure that the contract you sign with the Influencer says that you can reuse the creative anytime, for as long as you want. Better yet, get the raw files of any photos, video or graphics they create for you and the rights to modify and develop them further!

When you're signing a contract between a brand and an influencer, don't forget to indicate whether the brand can reuse the content the Influencer has created, or not.Source: http://dearmishudad.com/influencer-agreement/

7. Long-term is excellent marketing

It can be tempting to try working with an Influencer for a short campaign and move on if you don’t see an immediate result. That’s thinking like an ad executive or a sales person — not a marketer.

In marketing terms, if an influencer has nothing to say about your brand nine months out of the year, and suddenly starts singing your praises one day only, that’s not a good strategy.

Be a good marketer, hire Influencers to work long-term: advocacy via frequent posts over time works best when building your brand. Be a good marketer, hire Influencers to work long-term: advocacy via frequent posts over time works best when building your brand. #InfluencerMarketing #DoItRight Click To Tweet

8. By any other name…

It is clear that Influencer Marketing is a new, okay an “emerging” branch of marketing. Marketers and Influencers alike are still experimenting and learning the best practices for working together.

As with anything new, expect difficulties in explaining yourself to your peers or the decision makers in your company. To help you cross that bridge, I suggest the following words and methods:

“Emerging Channels”

Influencer Marketing is difficult to put into a single category or a single budget line. It’s PR, sampling, digital marketing, experiential marketing, and more.

Remember the word “emerging channels” from the ‘90s? Marketers use this term to describe very new channels that we still don’t know how to handle. This is a good way to categorize Influencer Marketing when you need to request a budget for it.

“I’ll bring WoM”

Another way to describe Influencer Marketing is as another form of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. WoM is widely accepted as the gold mine that marketing guru Seth Godin calls “the secret for marketing success” so using that terminology can help it gain acceptance.  

“No, not those entitled Influencers…”

I’ve noticed that there are a lot of strange ideas out there about Influencers, starting with the false idea that they are just entitled people who want things for free. On the contrary, they are hard working people who have used marketing skills, time, and effort to build a brand and a community.

But if you are facing resistance within your organization to working with Influencers, an alternative is to just re-name your plan. No, you’re not looking to hire Influencers, you’re hiring:

〉WoM distributors
〉Emerging channels
〉Advocates
〉Endorsers
〉Key opinion leaders (KOL’s)
〉Ambassadors
〉Content creators
〉Content strategists
〉Content marketers with amazing followership
〉Etc.

“Partnering with small businesses”

Most Influencers I know are proud small business owners, working hard, with tons of energy and ideas. Not only do they make great partners, but they also can humanize a large company when they’re part of its marketing campaign. This is another way to “sell” your colleagues on your Influencer Marketing strategy.

Most #Influencers I know are proud small business owners, working hard, with tons of energy and ideas. Not only do they make great partners, but they also can humanize a large company. #SMB Click To Tweet

Conclusions and takeaways

Of course the goal of marketing campaigns is to leads to sales in the end, but confusing the two undermines the value of marketing. This happens a lot with Influencer Marketing — probably because it is so new, and people are not sure where to put it and how to think about it.

My advice – do marketing. Let Influencers create positive bias for you, leverage their amazing creatives, and hire them with a long-term strategy for best results.

 

Do marketing. Let Influencers create positive bias for you, leverage their amazing creatives, and hire them with a long-term strategy for best results. #InfluencerMarketing #DoItRight Click To Tweet

Case study: https://www.instagram.com/sethsbikehacks is doing the #Influence right.

If you’re looking for an example of an Instagram influencer post that is authentic and “doing influence” right, have a look at the @sethsbikehacks post below.

This is a good example of a very authentic #sponsored post: Seth really knows bikes inside out, ppl can see that, and ppl listen to him on that topic.

How Seth ‘s post could be improved: using Hashtags- bc of the new IG feature where users can save hashtags and these appear on their streams – will give you more exposure. Also use #Ad instead of #Sponsored as it’s more common and take less real estate in the post.

Case Study: A great Facebook Micro-Influencer that bring customers to a potty training book

Let’s analyse a product endoresement of Micro-Influencer Kelly Maire

Case Study: A great Facebook Micro-Influencer that bring customers to a potty training book

She is:

  1. having a very authentic exciting seducing message why she endorses the potty training book
  2. she follows FCC rules with adding the #ad
  3. Results: people LOVE and LISTEN to her voice.. Not only that but they tag their friends to listen to her recommondations too, and that’s the climax the creame of the creame, the best results ever of endoresement: can’t be more WoM (Word-of-mouth) marketing results than that, congrats Kelly, you my hero model!

Influencer Marketing works and here are some real examples

 

 

Influencer marketing WORKS! I’ve compiled some testimonials from Twitter on influencer marketing and it’s pretty impressive.

 

Please send me your examples of great influencer marketing successes — I’d love to post and share them!
email:  ng[at]dearmishudad[dot]com

Dog Resolves Insurance Claim, That’s the Power of Social Media Micro-Influencers

Read here how my dog (and BFF) helped me to resolve my Insurance claim with Insurance company.  The power of #MicroInfluencers can b amazing..!!

 

 

Case study: Allie is a good example of micro-influencer who kills it

 

Allie does not have over 1M followers.  She has only 7.8k – which makes her a micro-influencer.  Even a micro-micro-influencer. HOWEVER, look  how talented she is, how genuine of a message she’s radiating to those 7.8k – she is so real the way she drinks her coffee (the product she promotes here) that it’s..amazing… and ppl LISTEN to her.  And the engagement is GREAT (100 comments, that’s very very high rate compared to her number of followers).

Furthermore, she shows that she cares, she always respond to comments, look:

Alien (micro-influencer) always engage the engagers

Responding brings even more engagement and trust.

Perfect micro-influencer, we need more of you, Allie!

Don’t: “$5 for shout out 🔥🔥🔥 DM me for shout out.”

Here is an example of what worked last year but won’t fly THIS year (or at least not by those who reads my post):

DONT!! $5 for shout out 🔥🔥🔥 DM me for shout out.

There is no point of hiring an influencer for a universal “all-products-are-ok” for me to “shout out”” (not to mention that $5/work sounds like something that will bring negative ROI to you).  In fact, from my experience, you don’t want someone to shout out your product, you want a SERIOUS Influencer  that you KNOW that your product/brand fits the desire of that Influencer followers.  You also want to validate that the Influencer feels GOOD about your product (otherwise how can that Influencer send a good message, a message that all will listen to).

 

Do I need to choose an #Influencer from my same industry?- DearMishuDad answers

Not necessarily. What you need to #focus on is the type of people who follow the Influencer, and what else they might like. For example, my @DearMishu is followed by dog lovers but also by people who are interested in travel, a holistic lifestyle, family, and living in the present. What products would those people like? Get creative!

Case study: how an Influencer made a huge insurance company pay for #medicine

 

Influencer helps with insurance company out of pocket payment

Here DearMishu- a super hero character – helps her friend solve his insurance problem by getting a company to reimburse a $600 out of pocket payment. He had been trying to get reimbursed for nearly a year with no luck, until ‪#InfluencerMarketing came to the rescue! The results were:

  • very, very responsive (answering within 10 minutes)
  • a promise to fix immediately
  • a process that had been going on for a year ended successfully in two weeks
  • all sides are happy

What I like here the most is that the Influencer used her power to change the world in a good way and to help someone who needed help.

Its good to have an Influencer like that, it’s good…

Good luck brand and Influencer heroes! 👍– #DearMishuDad ✊👨🏻‍🏫 (Influencer contract template here: http://bit.ly/2qCVYnL)

 

 

Case study: why #Influencer Teairra Mari doesn’t smile in her FB #Ad and that’s awesome!

This facebook #Ad by influencer Teairra Mari is excellent, starting with her being up front and fully in compliance with FCC guidelines for transparency in advertising!  More analysis below the picture

Influencers case study : Teairra Mai on FB

YES!  Facebook Influencer singer Teairra Mai is doing Influencing right –

✅ #Ad is there, right at the beginning of her ad post, which means compliance with FCC rules and transparency for her followers
✅ Good engagement
✅ Very high marks on authenticity: I would like to say very very authentic – please take a look – she is NOT smiling.  That’s her personality, and that’s great- no need to show a lot of teeth if you are an influencer who doesn’t typically smile in a post.  That’s you, that’s authentic. Keep being yourself, Teairra, and you’ll influence even more.

Conclusion: Authenticity is everything!  Not giving a s*** is great, and #BeYou is the formula for being a great #Influencer !!  Do all that, AND comply with FCC #Ad requirements – you’re golden!

And here is an example that is the total opposite –

Influencers case study that failed

WTF??!!

Yes, they remembered to use #Ad, but this Influencer obviously did not put much thought into the 1 sentence content.  No heart, no soul, not really trying….. so it looks like a stupid FB Ad, and hence the low engagement.

Be like Teairra, not like these guys!

Good luck brand heroes! 👍– #DearMishuDad ✊👨🏻‍🏫 (and don’t forget to sign a contract with the #Influencer, here: http://bit.ly/2qCVYnL)