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.
Ad blocking is rapidly increasing across all platforms.
On the fastest growing part of the web, mobile, 419 million smartphone users worldwide now use ad blocking. And mobile ad blocking is growing at 90% per year.
Ad Blocking Grows
On desktop, the story is the same. The most recent figures, now a year old, found that 198 million people are using ad blocking.
Even when we can see the ads, we’ve conditioned ourselves to avoid them.
“We have banner blindness to anything that happens on the top or the side of the screen,” said Morgan Buell, director of strategic partnerships for SheSpeaks, an influencer marketing company. “Anything that interrupts your interaction when you’re on a site is just frustrating.”
Influencer marketing is increasingly seen as a solution to the ad blocking problem, and SheSpeaks works to create engaging conversations and amplify content for their partners across targeted demographic segments.
The company was founded in 2007 as a research and insights company. One service was inviting bloggers to try out new products, but SheSpeaks was asking them to NOT talk about the products. The company soon realized that there was a missed opportunity, and now the company does just the opposite, instead encouraging influencers to talk as much as possible about the products across all social platforms, including YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, live streaming, etc.
Each campaign is custom-crafted with a platform, content, and influencer mix that matches the product and the message they want to communicate.
“If you’re a clothing brand, that’s a natural and organic fit for an Instagram campaign,” Buell said. But for a product such as Secret deodorant, where the benefits are slightly less visual, Instagram might not be the right platform.
Brands And Influencers – A Team Effort
Buell said that campaign messaging creation needs to be a cooperative team effort between brand and influencer – the right influencer, of course – with a mutual respect between the two parties.
“The brand has to be able to say, “These are my core goals and my KPIs and what I want to get across,” she said. “But the influencer has to have the creative ability to go out and be able to craft their message. They should come back and have a message that’s a fit for the client.”
Clients shouldn’t expect influencers to just blindly say whatever the brand wants. For instance, an influencer is probably not going to say on their channel: “I love this Jolly Rancher. I eat it every day, and you should buy it here.”
Influencers Are Businesses
“What brands should realize,” Buell said, “is that these influencers are very much building their own businesses. You’re going to these people who are basically master creative directors and they’re creating the content. It’s just a new way to look at [a brand’s] creative budget.”
SheSpeaks tracks the content of all influencers in their network, and also partners with multi-channel networks when needed. In this way they create a strategy with the right platforms, influencers and content categories that meet the needs of a given campaign.
The way a creator speaks to their audience is important as well.
“Because we’ve been in the business for a long time, we’ve just established relationships for a lot of the high-tier influencers,” she said. “So, we kind of know their voice.”
During a major multi-platform, multi-demo push for Kmart last Christmas, SheSpeaks worked with female creators on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and blogs. The influencers were hosted at an in-store event where some did live Periscope streaming to their fans. One creator, Tanesha Awasthi, got more than 4,000 likes on an Instagram photo she posted of one outfit, responded to her followers comments in real time, selling it out on the website during the same period.
And influencer content can be evergreen, delivering for a client campaign long past the promotion’s expected end-date. SheSpeaks worked with the “What’s Up Moms?” YouTube Channel” to help launch the Gillette Venus ProGlide razor. The company guaranteed 300,000 views of the video, which it accomplished last year. But the video keeps getting traction.
“People are continuing to find this video, watch it, and comment on the video, which is pretty incredible,” Buell said.
The video has engaged more than a million bonus views for the brand.
“That’s a 300% lift,” she said.
This article was first appeared on Hey.com on 6/16/16:
UGC: It’s As Easy As 1, 2, 3 …
Last fall, I paused while scrolling through my Facebook feed when I spotted a friend and her family holding a four-foot fork and an oversized blueberry in front of a “pancake mobile” parked in front of her house. Her photo led to her blog post, where she explained how I could tweet the company that was launching frozen pancakes and get some for myself. I searched the hashtag, saw more pictures of folks having fun, and tweeted them to visit me. When the driver showed up, he filled up my freezer after I agreed to share my own photos (more user-generated content) — and my pancakes.
The brand’s use of UGC totally drew me in. It wasn’t a professional photo of fluffy pancakes that got my attention, it was a person “like me” having fun with the product that I found intriguing. That’s the magic of UGC.
Chances are your consumers are already creating content that includes your product or brand. Here are three tips to securing – and leveraging — authentic user-generated content:
1. Crowdsource – ask your consumers for help. Asking your customers can be formal or informal, but you never know what you’ll get unless you ask. Recognize (share, favorite, comment on, follow back) the types and quality of content you’d like to see more of.
2. Make it a win-win. UGC is a win for brands. After all, consumers are more likely to engage with consumer-generated brand content vs. brand advertising. But is it a win for the consumer? As you structure a call for UGC, ask yourself, “What’s in it for the consumer?” It might be an entry into a giveaway or the chance to be featured beyond their own social networks – even the larger influencers value that exposure. L’Oreal Paris asked consumers to watch an influencer video, and then create and upload videos to “Tell the world how you #BlendInToStandOut” to trigger a charitable donation.
3. Optimize It!: Once you’ve got great user content, extend its reach via paid distribution. Insert the UGC into compelling ad units including native and rich media. Research shows that ads that leverage UGC drive higher click-through rates than those that don’t.
Purina followed all three of these steps during their successful #dogthanking campaign. Owners thanked their dogs by using the hashtag and tagging the brand, which triggered a donation to the AKC Canine Health Foundation. Submitted videos, photos and posts were included during the National Dog Show (sponsored by Purina) on Thanksgiving Day.
User-generated content is compelling because it shines the spotlight on your customer while they are engaging with your product. Your customer tends to think about your product in terms of benefit, i.e., how does it make my life better. Encouraging them to create and share these stories and then you sharing as well just makes good business sense.
Got some great examples of UGC? Tell us about them here and/or tweet me @CarolMilliron.
by Aliza Freud, Op-Ed Contributor
“Off to Chicago for 2 day business trip. I could hear my kids crying as I closed the front door to catch my Uber this morning. I waited until we had pulled away before I started to cry. I hate leaving them!” wrote a mom I know from a private Facebook group recently.
Within 10 minutes there were 25 responses. Many were sympathetic and provided words of comfort, but there were others that were not quite as supportive. One such comment read, “Look, I get that you miss your kids but if you really missed your kids that much, you’d quit your job right?”
What ensued was a debate that went on for days. The subtext was nothing short of a referendum on motherhood — who was doing it well and who wasn’t.
This type of exchange is clearly not a surprise to brands like Similac, which scored a viral video hit early last year with the commercial, “The Mother “Hood. The video, which has racked up over 8 million views and spurred thousands of social posts and shares, depicts “warring” factions of different mom types as they face off in a park.
The video ends with Similac encouraging moms to come together as they are all part of the “sisterhood of motherhood.”
According to Lindsy Delco of Abbott Nutrition, the maker of Similac, “When we talk about a sisterhood, we’re talking about a mindset we’re hoping people will embrace, to be supportive of each other as parents and recognize we all share the same concern about our children.”
But, is the mother “warring” just about parenting? We decided to learn more and earlier this month fielded a survey amongst 2,300 women to get better insight on the topic. What we learned may surprise you:
1. Overall, just 40% of moms indicated that women were supportive of one another “Most of the Time.” Another 56% answered: “Sometimes but Not Often”, while 4% indicated “Almost Never” to the same question.
2. But importantly, “Parenting” is where moms think other women are the most supportive.
According to survey respondents here is where moms say they are supportive of one another “Most of the Time”:
3. Discontent Is an Issue: Only 48% of moms indicate that they are Content. And just 31% describe themselves as “Fulfilled.”
We asked survey respondents to tell us why they feel moms are supportive/not supportive of one another. Here are a few responses:
Women can be catty. I see it a lot on tumblr where moms get called out for things, or told that they’re not as good as other moms for a myriad of reasons.
I have 2 friends that I walk with 3 times a week. We support one another physically, emotionally and mentally. We pray for one another and our families.
Women seem much more competitive with each other, which is very unfortunate. We should be encouraging each other and promoting each other to improve and better ourselves at all lives.
I think women have come along way especially in today’s society of learning to build one another up, instead of tearing each other down.
Women generally want to see other women succeed. We are all in this world together. If we won’t support each other, who will?
We had thousands of comments and several themes emerged:
1. Jealousy rears its ugly head
2. There are those who cheer for one another
3. Most believe themselves to be good friends to other moms
So what are the implications of all of this insight? There is clearly an issue. But this also can be an opportunity for brands that seek to engage with women to tap in to the insight, foster a conversation and help find ways to send a message of support as Similac did with their “Sisterhood of Motherhood” campaign. The campaign now includes several more videos where moms come together to understand one another’s perspectives and let go of judgment. These videos are also amassing hundreds of thousands of views and shares.
We are curious to hear your thoughts. Share them here and/or tweet @shespeaking.
How Influencers Are Helping Brands Win On Periscope
- by Aliza Freud, OpEd Contributor, 13 minutes ago
It’s Jan, 8, 2016, and Joey Fortman, an influential blogger, is walking the vast convention exhibition floor at CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas while she is live-broadcasting on Periscope. Joey is currently showing her tuned-in audience a new life-size robot that helps kids with homework and other projects. She’s getting lots of “hearts” (Periscope’s equivalent of a real-time “like”) as she talks about the robot.
After a few moments, one of her viewers types a comment, “Hey, can you show us what’s in the booth to your left?” Joey swings around to another exhibitor booth with a cool new educational tool for kids and ventures in that direction, bringing her hundreds of Periscope viewers in tow.
This is Joey’s fifth broadcast at CES and, with each new broadcast, her audience grows and becomes more engaged. So, why do influencers like Joey use Periscope?
“Periscope is such a cool new platform. As a former radio personality, I love Periscope because it’s live. But, it takes us beyond live radio and television because my viewers can interact with me on the spot as I’m broadcasting. So, here I am showing them something going on in my day and they can weigh in and ask me about it as I’m talking. Since that feedback is instantaneous, I’m also very quickly learning what resonates with my audience,” says Joey.
Periscope, a Twitter-owned live broadcasting app launched in late March 2015. Since then, influencers have been flocking to the platform to learn the ins and outs and they are bringing their audiences with them. Also, Twitter is giving Periscope broadcasts a boost. Starting last week, livestreaming videos automatically play in newsfeeds in Twitter’s iPhone app.
In one of our recent surveys we learned that:
• 31% of women say they use Periscope. More than half of these women log in daily
• The top reasons women use Periscope are to:
– Find out what others are doing/sharing
– Connect with brands/companies/causes
– Find entertaining content
• Of the women who use Periscope, about 85% say their usage has increased over the last several months
And brands are taking notice. Last month, Kmart ran an influencer activation on Periscope. The campaign, which used the hashtag #ShoppingIsFunAgain, leveraged mom influencers to head in to their local Kmart stores to show the array of products available during the holiday season. While in store, live broadcasting on Periscope, influencers hosted giveaways, dance-off competitions with fellow shoppers and even had fans meet them at the store during broadcasts. Influencers received thousands of hearts for these broadcasts and tons of engagement.
So, should brands venture in to live broadcasting on Periscope? Well, Periscope is not without its risks. After all, scopes are live and so are comments. Brands interested in engaging on the platform must keep the live nature of broadcasts in mind.
The audience on Periscope is building and, as mentioned above, Twitter is making it easier for their platform audience to see Periscope content natively on Twitter. This will certainly give the Periscope broadcasts a boost.
The analytics and tracking of Periscope broadcasts are also getting better. In addition to being able to see hearts and engagements on Periscope, users can now also sign up for Fullscope.tv to get deeper analytics on their scopes.
Finally, with services like Katch.me, Periscope users can save their scopes, edit them and publish this content on other platforms. This could make brand-sponsored content even more valuable as it proliferates in multiple places.
If you’ve seen cool ways that brands are using Periscope, leave a comment or tweet me @shespeaking to continue the conversation..
Originally appeared: MediaPost, Engage MOMS, 1/22/16
This Post Originally Appeared In MediaPost: Marketing CPG: http://bit.ly/1Znz8er