Understanding the real costs behind effective Influencer Marketing campaigns.
The Top 10 Biggest Myths Around Working With Influencers.
After running a successful fitness influencer agency for 7+ years and executing close to 700 blogger/influencer campaigns, I have more than enough experience with influencer marketing to speak on this topic. Frankly, I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about this- both for the sake of influencers and for brands/agencies, because while influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity, it is VERY CLEAR that there is a HUGE LACK of understanding by both brands and agencies as to best practices in working with influencers and also– the real costs for effective influencer marketing campaigns.
I’m going to break down a LOT of these points in great detail, including:
- EFFECTIVE: there’s a big difference between doing an influencer marketing campaign and doing one RIGHT, where you actually create results, like, business results.
- CAMPAIGNS: why brands and agencies should stop thinking about CAMPAIGNS and start thinking about long-term partnerships and brand ambassador programs with sales incentives.
- COSTS: This could be a whole book.
- WORK: Understanding the WORK that influencers do is a MAJOR point worthy of discussion.
To start, I’d like to share my observation of some of the biggest MYTHS permeating the internetosphere (I just invented that word):
Change the way you do "CAMPAIGNS".
Want to win in social media and with influencers? Stop doing campaigns.
Campaigns are like commercials: staged, fake, temporary and truly reflective of a myopic mindset in marketing.
Think long-term. Develop a brand ambassador program. Work with influencers for the LONG-TERM and treat them like a true business partner. You’ll sell more product, guaranteed.
Stop doing useless "Media Events".
I cringe every time I hear an agency say they are planning a big “Media Event”. Honestly I think so many folks in the PR and Ad space are so used to talking the industry terms and doing the things they’ve always done, they have failed to stop and think about things logically. Media events are typically stunts that are expensive, take a lot of planning, and usually end up with the brand/product getting some featured articles written in print magazines– and how does anyone know if that WORKS? Last time I checked you don’t get analytics for press in magazines. Not surprising to read the following:
“It’s no surprise to publishers that the magazine industry is in a decline. The PwC Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2015-2020 predicts that by 2020, the magazine industry will have dropped 20% of its 2015 rate, representing a loss of approximately $19 billion globally. While 134 titles launched in 2017, 50 others closed, and overall there are 207 fewer titles than in 2008.” SOURCE: NEWSCYCLE 2019 click here
What’s funny is that brands will still spend $250K for a full page ad in a print magazine offering ZERO analytics and no tracking of how that ad affects the consumer reading it (and don’t get me started on how magazines manipulate subscriber numbers– you aren’t REALLY reaching those million subscribers– a vast majority of them are subscribers who cancelled and are given the magazine for FREE for years so they can count them as a subscriber and charge you for it. Wake up!) and they’ll spend six figures on “media events” that last 2 hours– and provide NO tracking or analytics, yet when they remit an influencer payment of $500 they expect an analytics report that is Biblical in length from the influencer.
Change the way you view influencers and their audience/followers.
You are reaching out to bloggers and influencers for a reason. They have your target customer tuning in to everything they say. THEY built that audience. THEY built that relationship. THEY control that dialogue. YOU are a guest. Thus, if you are asking your host to do you a favor and introduce you to their audience, understand the roles. Understand the ask. Be respectful and grateful and view it as a business partnership, because it is.
Understand that today's consumer relies on social media AND on the recommendations of their friends/social media BFFs to inform purchase decisions.
Do I really need to share the stats here on today’s consumer relying on recommendations from others? Why do you think Amazon.com grew so fast? RATINGS ON PRODUCTS. I can literally point to 15 appliances in my kitchen that I bought because of my influencer besties on instagram.
Do a minute of googling on social media and how it influences purchasing decision and then another search on how influencers of all sizes drive purchasing decisions and you’ll get it. This is no joke.
Social media and influencer marketing are THE single best place for you to spend your marketing dollars AND also the most trackable and tweakable methods available. You can literally watch your potential customers’ reactions and engage DIRECTLY with them…..and even get product/service ideas for yourself on the daily.
Focus group + R&D + Customer Service + New Client Acquisition == it’s all here. Why on earth are you not directing all of your efforts here?
Understand that most influencer platform recommendations for influencer fees are RANDOM and usually not accurate whatsoever.
During the 7+ years I was the CEO of a fitness influencer agency, we used several influencer management platforms. Today, there are hundreds– and all of them brag about having the most influencers. Typically, a brand or agency pays these platforms a fee to be able to find influencers and then hire them for CAMPAIGNS and the platform will also usually handle the payments and w9 situations.
I can tell you from experience that while the technology is impressive for most of these companies, the real truth is this:
- The analytics provided for campaigns is lacking. When I audited what was spit out from the dashboards of 2 big platforms and saw that it was just an excel spreadsheet of likes and comments and traffic, I realized what a sad joke that was.
- The fees that the platforms will suggest for the influencers are RANDOM and based on their metrics, not based on what the actual influencer will charge. So, there is almost no way to effectively budget for a campaign in advance because if you do, you’ll be wholeheartedly surprised when you go to hire that blogger and they say “Oh that rate is not accurate, I don’t charge $345 I charge $1500. Sorry! Let me know if that works!”
The best way to plan for an influencer campaign or brand ambassador program is to — truthfully- execute manual outreach where you can find out exactly what the influencers require. Relying on platforms is not recommended.
STOP TRYING TO CONTROL THE MESSAGE.
I wish I could scream this message from the mountain tops. I have worked as an influencer with hundreds of brands and I’ve managed campaigns for hundreds of brands, and many of them were for companies so insistent on controlling EVERY ASPECT OF THE MESSAGE, you had to wonder, why on earth are you using bloggers or influencers if what you really want is an editorial piece dictated and published or a commercial?
People view commercials and print ads with a completely different attitude than the way they consider a recommendation from a friend or a TRUSTED influencer they follow.
If you are hiring an influencer to reach their audience, why would you try to tell them how to share your product? If you’ve never had a baby or cared for a baby before or held a baby, would you approach a mother with her child and tell her how to best breast feed it? I doubt it.
If you hire an influencer who has carefully cultivated a dedicated following over months and likely years, TRUST THEM to know how best to promote your product. You’ll get FAR MORE genuine interest from the influencer’s audience when they speak in their own language.
I remember working with an agency for a sports water brand. And the degree to which this agency and brand had to pre-approve any and all content before it went live was insane. Blog posts were rejected because there was a glass of orange juice in the background- and consumers “might think it’s a competing sports drink”.
I also remember a protein drink brand freaking out that an influencer was wearing a sports bra top and showing her MIDRIFF– even though they specifically asked for TRAINERS after a workout in workout clothes. Apparently I Dream Of Jeanie restrictions are back in place in 2019.
Control the message and worry about STUPID STUFF like this– expect mediocre results EVERY TIME.
Compare the costs of Influencer Marketing + Social Media Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing Methods or Advertising.
As referenced above, social media marketing and influencer marketing methods are NOT cheap but they are the most effective in driving traffic and in converting consumers to paying customers. There is NO other medium that is less expensive or offers as much tracking and analytics or targeting capabilities. It’s time to understand that this is not only a legitimate method of advertising and marketing but one of the most effective ones available. Period.
Stop thinking it’s cheap just because it can appear fun and frilly. Social media content requires a TON of time and creativity and talent — and then there’s the audience. When you are paying for social and influencer marketing, you are paying for quality, creative content AND for access to an audience ideal for your product. Be willing to pay for that!
Presence is not enough.
My favorite thing to tell clients as they begin taking social media marketing and influencer marketing seriously is this: It’s not enough to just have a PRESENCE on social and with influencers- you have to have a PURPOSE. That purpose should be GENERATING SALES — and you can use social and influencers to do that, but it requires strategy, a solid strategy, and capable execution. Stop winging it.
If you are needing assistance in this area, you guessed it, we can help you. Head over to Socially Fit Services and reach out if you’d like to talk about getting started.
If you are an influencer interested in joining our influencer community- fill out the contact form and we’ll be in touch– we focus solely on long-term brand ambassador programs for our clients with the occasional legitimate/sensible product review opportunity. (and our goal is to pay you your asking rate, not try to low-ball you, so there’s that.)
A Reminder to Influencers/Bloggers:
This post is not written to give you a Get Out of Jail Free card– this post is not written so you can become the Mariah Carey of bloggers and be an unreasonable diva. Not at all.
My goal is to teach bloggers/influencers how to cultivate more confidence, how to understand the business of making an income online (via various methods and products) and how to promote and sell with authority and unwavering belief. I feel strongly that there are thousands of women out there working online either as a side-hustle or trying to build their already launched business, and they are stalling. Further, when they work with brands they have no ability to enter into business discussions from a position of strength, because they are uninformed, not experienced and not confident.
All of this can change. It’s been my pleasure to watch hundreds of bloggers/influencers I know personally start businesses online and THRIVE– and watching THEM transform as their business exploded was even more inspiring than the sales numbers sometimes!!
This is so doable for you. If you feel lost and frustrated about making solid income online from your blog and your talents/expertise– I strongly recommend you check out my course designed specifically for women like you: The Opposite of Nice Isn’t Nasty: Sales Training For Women in Business. I’d love to help you level up in a big way.
Finally, if you like this post, SHARE THE LOVE– pass this on to another influencer/blogger or, if you are in the brand/agency space, pass it on to a colleague. And be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter on the sidebar, so you don’t miss any future posts.