With Memorial Day and summer upon us, SheSpeaks decided to ask Sam’s Club shoppers how they were planning for Summer. In the last few weeks we fielded two different studies with our Sam’s Club Shopper influencers:
1) Memorial Day/Summer Outings- focus
2) Cafe, Fresh Home Meal Solutions etc.- focus
3) A few other topics including credit cards & wet wipes!
There are some interesting insights about how Sam’s Club shoppers are thinking about entertaining over the summer as well how they think about various food/beverage purchases, what they like and how these can be improved.
Influencers are everywhere – we see them in our feeds, on TV and in the media. In the last few weeks alone, The New York Times has published several feature articles on the phenomenon of social media influencers. What was once just a topic for trade publications has taken center stage in the mainstream media.
So, it would seem that influencers are red hot with lots of wind at their backs, right? You might also think that the social platforms on which these influencers have worked hard to build strong following, content and engagement would be looking to create favorable environments for influencers, right? Well, maybe not as much as you would think.
At the same time that publications like the Times have increased their coverage of the “influencer economy,” and brands have made influencer marketing a staple in their budgets, three major social platforms – Facebook, Instagram and YouTube – have implemented changes that negatively affect influencers’ audience reach and revenue generation.
Let’s start with Facebook. In January Facebook announced changes to the platform that impact Pages. Specifically, it is now harder for someone to organically reach their followers on Pages. Articles declared these changes to be detrimental for companies/brands who use Pages to reach their customers, but a boon for influencers who partner with brands, because this change wouldn’t affect them.
Wrong. Influencers, particularly those who work consistently with brands on sponsored content, use Pages and not personal Facebook accounts to post content and reach their audiences. Using Pages allows influencers to use the branded content tool to provide disclosure, as well as analytics to their partners.
Influencers noticed the changes to Pages before Facebook announced them in January. Many influencers have seen organic engagement rate decreases of 30% or more over the last several months. How are influencers dealing with reduced organic reach? They are boosting posts. If an influencer has a sponsored post, they are now boosting (paying Facebook to push) these posts in order to ensure they hit contractual commitments for brand sponsorship deals.
But Facebook is not the only platform where influencers are facing a new algorithm reality. Instagram has made changes recently as well.
There is no question that influencers have invested time and energy over the last couple of years to build strong followings on Instagram. In fact, according to a recent study close to 80% of influencers reported that Instagram was their platform of choice.
Influencers love Instagram and have enjoyed strong engagement rates. In order to ensure that campaign analytics can be provided to brand partners for sponsored posts, many influencers use business accounts on Instagram. But recently, Instagram changed its algorithm for business accounts to work more like Facebook’s. Now, unless a piece of content gets immediate engagement, Instagram shows this content to fewer followers.
One Instagrammer with close to 200,000 followers told me that she has watched her Instagram post engagement rate decrease by one third over the last couple of months. Although her follower count has steadily increased over this same period of time, her engagement rate has dropped because not as many people are getting a chance to see her posts.
Of course, these changes aren’t just impacting Influencers – brands too are noticing decreased engagement with posts. One beauty brand, anastasiabeverlyhills, recently posted to its 15.9 million followers the below post. The post has received over 30,000 comments, mostly of support.
So, what are Instagrammers doing in response to these changes? They are banding together to create groups who all quickly engage with one another’s content, not only to “heart it” but also to post comments in the hopes that this will build immediate engagement and therefore show their post content to more of their followers.
And if Facebook and Instagram changes were not enough, YouTube just announced changes as well. Starting February 20, 2018, YouTube will not allow creators to participate in the YouTube Partner Program and monetize their channels if they do not have over 1,000 subscribers AND 4,000 hours of watch time over the course of the last year.
While these changes will not affect influencers who have strong followings on YouTube, they will affect smaller creators who make passive income from monetization of videos on their channels. The dollars are not huge for these smaller YouTube influencers, but coupled with the Facebook and Instagram changes and Influencers are experiencing a ground shift.
What more can influencers do? In one word, adapt. One influencer told me that these changes are just reminders that, “You don’t own your audience on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. You are really just renting the audience. The only things that influencers own is their blog, email list and content. These changes are an important reminder for us to focus on those too.”
There is no question that influencer marketing provides brands with strong benefits including trusted, viewable and compelling content. After all, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know more than any other form of advertising.
With so many brands leveraging influencers to create and share sponsored content influencers are well positioned. The trick will be for them to continuously adapt as the social platforms do.
What do you think? Comment below or tweet me @shespeaking
6 Steps to a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign
CPG brands have jumped on the Influencer Marketing bandwagon with everyone from cosmetic, food, diaper, paper towel and many other CPG brands are all leveraging influencers to help tell their stories.
Achieving an effective influencer marketing campaign requires a thoughtful process for planning and execution. Finding the right influencers to work with your brand is just one step in that process. Ensuring that influencers create content that has the potential to move consumers to action is where a smart plan is required.
For brands interested in leveraging influencers to convince and convert customers, there is a “recipe for success”- a process that can be followed to help ensure that influencer marketing campaigns have the strongest likelihood of success.
What follows are tips on how to engage influencers for brands, and make the most of influencer relationships and the resulting content.
1) Define Objective & Target: Start by outlining the parameters of your campaign. What are your objectives and what is your target audience? What is the call to action, the key takeaway? What type of budget do you have to support this campaign? And what is the desired outcome?
It’s ideal to outline your internal review process during this phase. Once you engage and brief influencers, will you ask to approve a concept and then a final cut? Or will you see the content for the first time when it goes live? Obviously, if you work in a more regulated industry such as finance or pharmaceutical, this process may be lengthier than for a food brand for example. Past experiences with influencers also often shape this process. The key to making this work is outlining your expectations and needs up front.
2) Identify and engage: How do you find influencers that might be the best match for your brand? Brands should work with people who know the influencer talent directly, using personal relationships and avoiding tech platforms. Some other suggestions for this phase:
- Don’t forget that influencers are human. Offer to have phone calls and/or in-person briefings. Be available and share appropriate information during the briefing process. Share your product plentifully if the influencer has not experienced it yet, such as for a new product.
- Remember, the demographics of the influencer are not necessarily the same as their audience demographic. Ask the influencer for more information about their networks and subscriber base, and don’t make assumptions. A younger influencer may still be quite effective at reaching older consumers, and vice versa.
- As you review possible influencers, always fall in love with more than one. If you are considering options with an agency partner, try to be as specific as possible when giving feedback. Larger influencers often have three projects on deck for everyone they can accept, or their production schedule may be full when you reach out to them.
3) Create and amplify: This is the fun part! Follow the process outlined in the planning phase as the Influencers create and amplify FTC-compliant content. You chose them based on their channels and content, remember to let that shine through. Don’t over script, but work together so they create a story that makes sense for the target audience. Focus on the benefits, not the product attributes. Influencer content works well because influencers are more likely to focus on telling a story about why your product or service makes their life better, more enjoyable more hassle-free etc. Consumer react very well to this type of benefit driven content.
4) Optimize: Once influencer content is live, monitor and identify the best performing content. Items on your scorecard might include likes, reactions, comments, shares and hearts, depending on the platform and your objectives. Then, “turn on the gas” and leverage paid distribution of the best performing influencer content.
5) Measure: Continue to measure, and recap your campaign. What would you do differently? What would you repeat? Don’t forget to ask the influencers for their input as well. Also, it is important to check results of influencer activations on an ongoing basis. After all, one of the great benefits of influencer content is that it lives on and continues to be discovered by new consumers overtime. In fact, one recent influencer video that we executed and tracked for a women’s shaving product campaign generated an incremental $400,000 in media value AFTER the flighting period. In other words, the shaving brand received a $400,000 bonus in media value as a result of the incremental views of the sponsored video, post campaign.
Influencers and their compelling content have become a smart and effective way for CPG brands to reach and inspire target consumers. The medium will continue to evolve and be enhanced. Like any other marketing tactic, successful campaigns are driven by a thoughtful and planned process.
While at American Express at the start of the millennium, Aliza Freud ’01 began to see first hand the impact DVR penetration was having on traditional TV advertising. As she thought about the diminishing returns likely to follow, she reflected on how much impact American Express card holders had on their friends and family. Thinking on this in our recent interview, Freud stated,
“What we’d known at American Express for a long time was that when one of our card members had a good experience with their American Express card, on average, they told ten people and out of those ten people, three of them would convert to be new customers of an American Express card.”
That thinking led her to leave the corporate world in 2007 to found her own company, SheSpeaks, with one idea in mind, “to help build a stage for women, so that their voices were heard.” To provide impact to those voices, SheSpeaks was set up as a business to help companies, like Proctor & Gamble, American Express, and L’Oreal, better understand female consumers, and how to think differently about marketing to them by tapping the influencers in their social networks.
Enjoy watching Freud as she speaks about her insights and best practices from spending 10 years helping grow the field of influencer marketing.