How SheSpeaks Is Helping Brands Fight The Ad Blocking Problem Through Influencer Marketing

This image from Instagram influencer Tanesha Awasthi got more then 4,000 likes in SheSpeaks 2015 Christmas campaign.


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.

Banner Blindness

“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.”

Live Events

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.

 Evergreen Content

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 on 6/16/16:


UGC: It’s As Easy As 1, 2, 3 …

MediaPost's Marketing CPG
By Carol Milliron

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.
Doritos recognized early on that making the consumer the star of its advertising, with clever product integration, rather than the product as star by itself, would drive engagement and sharing. They did this notably with the “Crash the Superbowl” campaign. As a brand that got it early and witnessed the explosion of social media, they realized that they could benefit from a longer-running UGC campaign. With their new Bold 50 campaign, where they are inviting consumers to break records involving their product, they can engage consumers over the course of the year. This will give them bursts of content, social sharing and therefore buzz on an ongoing basis, not just around a tent pole event like the SuperBowl.

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.

Tapping Into the Sisterhood of Motherhood





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”:

Parenting: 56%
Social/Personal: 44%

Professional: 31%

Political: 29%

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

How Influencers Are Helping Brands Win On Periscope

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 to get deeper analytics on their scopes.

Finally, with services like, 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

2016: The Year of Overall Health and Wellness

This Post Originally Appeared In MediaPost: Marketing CPG:

MediaPost's Marketing CPG
By Morgan Buell Monday, Jan. 11, 2016

2016 Is The Year of Overall Health and Wellness

The 2016 ball has dropped, the holiday presents have been organized and put away, and the resolutions are in full-effect. But have you noticed something different about this year? Well, get ready. This is the year that physical fitness will be taken to the next level – and women are on top.

According to a study we co-conducted, women are focused on a “Better Her.” Forty-one percent of women say health and wellness goals will be most important to them in 2016, and another 63% say they anticipate increasing their focus on personal financial management. Women are focused on their goals, motivated to make the necessary changes and are striving for a better them.

The companies that will succeed in the wellness movement of 2016 will be ones that are ready to listen. Ones that already get it include: Under Armour, Dove and Lane Bryant, as outlined in Marketing Dailyrecently. This is the year of body-positive. And, it’s not about talking at women; it’s about listening to understand how products can help them achieve a better life. What value does your brand/product contribute to her life? By celebrating consumers and inspiring them, brands will be more successful at inserting themselves in the conversation because consumers will already be talking about them.

The Key Takeaways:

1. It’s less about the product and it’s all about her

After all, her body wash can make her feel clean and energized after a successful workout. And, her grocery store should reward her with financial benefits for shopping and eating healthier.

One example of a brand succeeding in the movement:

  • L’Oreal’s #WorthSaying campaign that launched during the Golden Globes to encourage women to share powerful and motivating language that transcends beauty. Celebrities tweeted and joined an inspiring conversation focused on intrinsic beauty with motivating language shared by all women. #WorthSaying was the only Golden Globe hashtag (other than #GoldenGlobes) to trend during the hour and succeeded by taking its tagline, “Because You’re Worth It,” to a whole new level.

2. Be Real

Authenticity will get you 100% farther than unrealistic and inauthentic communication. After all, women find people who are like themselves to be #1 most trusted source for information.

One Brand That Owns the Conversation:

  • Aerie By American Eagle: With the understanding that Aerie’s target market is not the average stick-thin supermodel, but rather the average young millennial, Aerie launched their ads to promote a healthy body image by not digitally removing models’ blemishes, tattoos, cellulite or other features that are typically photo-shopped on the website or in advertisements. In turn, The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) honored the underwear line’s #AerieReal campaign with its first-everNEDA Inspires Seal of Approval. Women want to know how clothes will look on them and that is why they follow their favorite social media influencers to really understand what works. Producing realistic ads will highlight your product as authentic with consumers.

3. Product Reviews Matter

That’s because 97% of women consult a product review before deciding to buy. After all, she is smart about her purchases and it has to work for her.

  • Due to the support of social media, consumers’ distrust in product advertisements, as well as their research savviness, product reviews have become the method of choice to learn about a product and generate interest in purchase. Additionally, 58% of people said they are more likely to share customer service experiences today than they were five years ago, with more and more people sharing experiences on social networking sites and writing online reviews. Brands can leverage product sampling and drive authentic quality reviews to garner more interest.

Women feel confident and are focused on their health and financial goals. It’s not about buying; it’s about the journey to get to a better her.

To Win in 2016, Let Consumers Personalize Your Brand Experience


Blah, blah, blah. We’ve all heard about personalization for years. In the nineties, credit card companies launched new products with options and features that you could combine to make your very own “perfect” credit card. So, many of us had credit cards in our wallets with pictures of our dogs or kids and, we even chose our preferred payment date.

But, this is 2016 (well, just about), and companies have exploded on to the scene with major success mainly because they allow consumers to personalize, not products, but experiences.

Take Blue Apron for example. In June, the Company announced a $135 million dollar VC raise at a valuation of close to $2 BILLION dollars. So, what is Blue Apron? According to the company, it’s a grocery delivery service that now delivers over 3 million meals per month to US consumers.

Ask any Blue Apron customer – and by the way, their customers cut across multiple generations and consumer sets — and they will tell you that they love Blue Apron because it gives them a chance to use their Blue Apron deliveries to create their own meals, exactly the way they want them.

The ingredients and an easy to follow recipe guide are all delivered by Blue Apron but, ultimately, the customer has to put those ingredients together, in their own kitchen, using their own kitchen tools, and their own skills.. Each Blue Apron package has three recipes, for three meals, and each meal is 30 minutes to an hour of kitchen time. It’s a culinary experience in a box, not just a collection of curated ingredients. And, based on the growth of the meal delivery service, they tripled their volume between January and June of 2015. In short: consumers LOVE it!

What Blue Apron has learned and leveraged is that if they can get a customer to engage with a product (in this case a meal service) they will make it their own. Hence, personalizing it while building loyalty.

So, what can CPG brands learn from the success of companies like Blue Apron?

1) Let Consumers Make Your Product Their Own

Traditional food CPG brands can certainly do the same. Why couldn’t Perdue collaborate with Hunt’s and Ronzoni to create a “Dinner in a Box”? These food brands could create programs where their products are shipped to a consumer along with recipe ideas and fixings to create a great meal. This idea does not just extend to food. Think about a cosmetic brand doing the same. They could curate “looks” and create packaged kits along with how-to instructions to create the look on their own and personalizing the experience!

2) Encourage Consumers To Create Content

Once consumers make your product their own via these type of Blue Apron experiences, they have a natural inclination to create content to “show off” their creations. Take a look at Blue Apron’s Facebook page with its over 1 million fans to see the thousands of consumer generated photos of their meal recipes

3) Give Consumers a Reason to Share Their Love

Consumers want to look smart, creative etc. Once they love your brand, give them a reason to give their friends a chance to try it. Think referral programs! Blue Apron has a robust referral program that gives their customers points and free meal credits for referring friends to sign up for the service.

I’d love to hear about other brands that are personalizing their brand experiences. Please share them in the comments below. Here’s to a successful (and personal) 2016!

This post originally appeared in MediaPost’s Marketing:CPG on December 14, 2015.

How Food Brands Can Win Over Female Shoppers






It’s a typical Tuesday evening at Jackie’s house in Madison, Wisc. Jackie, 36, is watching her daughter, Lucy, 6 ,and son, James, 5, push their dinner around their plates. “Why aren’t you eating? Jackie asks. “Because you make the same thing all the time. Can’t we have something different for dinner?” Lucy asks.

Jackie isn’t alone. According to our recent survey, the number one meal-time challenge faced by women is boredom. Yes, boredom. Not cost or lack of time. Those are lower on the list. Women are bored and their families are bored with their meals.

The same survey uncovered some surprising insights about food including snacking, social media and influences on food purchases. These insights reveal opportunities for brands to step up their efforts to engage and win with female shoppers.

Food Study Key Insights:

1. Boredom (50%) is the #1 meal-time challenge faced by women, followed by varying tastes among family members (43%); cost of ingredients (42%) and lack of ideas for cooking healthy, good-tasting food (41%); conflicting schedules (30%); and lack of meal prep time (27%).

2. Guilty pleasures are enjoyed across all age groups, but millennials indulge with many more guilty pleasures (candy, chocolate, ice cream etc.) vs. other age groups. The item that remains a “guilty pleasure” favored across generations is ice cream.

3. Social Media: Food is a very popular topic on social: a large majority (74%) of women post or share food-related content on social media. Recipes (61%) are the most heavily shared type of content.

4. Women visit #1 Pinterest and #2 Facebook for meal inspiration i.e., recipe ideas and discovery. They turn to Instagram to show off their creations.

5. Influence on Purchase: The opinions of family and friends are most influential when women are deciding to purchase particular foods: 50% of women say family/friend opinions are very influential, following by 38% saying reviews by consumers like themselves and 38% saying information on product packaging is what they pay attention to. Least influential? Celebrity endorsements (with 73% of women say they are not influential at all) and advertising.

Food Opportunities Revealed:

1. Women are willing to make the time to prepare good food, but need tastier recipes (especially for healthy food), more ideas, and suggestions for pleasing different palates in one meal as lack of appeal is a bigger issue than lack of time. Brands can provide customers with recipes in a variety of formats, including video, as well as platforms, including Pinterest. A full 78% of respondents said that they visited food brand’s social pages in order to find recipes and tips.

2. Since boredom is such an issue, the response to boredom is just as challenging. What are the options? Takeout? Order in? A major opportunity exists for brands to make their food interesting and exciting to target customers. Drilling deeper in the survey, women tell us that what they crave from brands are product tips and tricks/recipes.

3. As for influencing purchase, brands should consider soliciting consumer product reviews from brands and prompt customers to share their love for their brand/product with their friends and family through a variety of medium including social media.

4. Sample It! Women said that a positive experience with a sample (50%) is most likely to prompt purchase. Brands should consider targeted sampling in order to get tasty samples into the hands of bored consumers “looking for food inspiration.” Coupons also inspire sampling. In fact, 83% of surveyed respondents said that they visit food brand social pages in order to get access to coupons and discounts.

Also worth noting is that there are many opportunities for brands to distinguish themselves on social: only 10% of women feel that any particular brand is doing a better job of engaging them than any other. With food continuing to be a popular topic on social for women of all ages, food marketers can distinguish themselves on social by actively engaging, encouraging more sharing and providing more ideas for them to chew on.