What is influencer marketing?
Smith: Influencer marketing is an opportunity for businesses to work with an individual that possibly has a large reach online. This individual is looked at by the audience as reputable, authentic, and trustworthy. People are interested in what these influencers say in their daily lives and they follow along. They work well with brands because of that trust and their connection with the audience.
Gorman: It’s individuals or groups that are lending their credibility to brands that want to sponsor them. It’s new territory. Influencer marketing spending is expected to top $15 billion by 2022. It had this crazy ascension over the last few years. Brands are seeing the value and most brands are increasing their influencer spend.”
How did 2020 and COVID-19 affect influencer marketing?
Smith: That’s really where we saw this influx of influencer marketing happen in 2020. Commercial ad spends were down. Billboard spends were down. Store foot traffic totally was down. So how do you continue to sell your products to your customers without them being able to go into a store? That’s where businesses looked toward influencer marketing.
Where do brands start with influencer marketing? How do you find who fits your brand?
Smith: Like any strategy, start with your goals and what you want to know. Is there one campaign or one product you want to focus on? Then, you really search for the influencers that support that, and there are a lot of programs out there that can help you look for influencers. You do need to make sure that they’re authentic, able to support brands, and if they fit your brand. You also want to look at their audience and how their audience reacts to them. How many followers do they have? Is their audience engaging with them? Do they have lots of comments? There are a lot of different metrics you want to look at, but it all needs to support what you’re looking for as a business. If you just want to reach a large audience, you could work with any type of influencer. There are nano influencers to micros, macros, and celebrities. Celebrities are going to get you the highest reach, but they’re also going to cost the most, and they might not have the highest engagement.
What are some potential hazards with influencer marketing?
Gorman: We can’t just look at a number. That doesn’t tell the whole story. We’ve had people with a million followers that have only pushed one product. We have influencers that have 50,000 to 100,000 followers that made this three-minute rap video for us, and it’s the greatest piece of content that I’ve ever seen. And they were one of the more reasonable rates that we paid for an influencer, and we got so much out of them.
When we’re trying to activate influencers, they usually split into two camps. The first is the reluctant influencer that’s like “I don’t know how to do this. I just built this channel because I liked traveling across the country in my school bus. We thought people might want to come along, but we really don’t know how to do this.” And then there’s the over-prepared influencer that’s like, “Yep, here’s my sales deck. Here are my prices. Here are examples of what I’ve done. Here’s my resume and here are people you can contact.”
The easy way is to look at the second person and say they’re so prepared and ready to go, but a lot of times I’ve found that person has a system down, and they’re just churning these out for anybody. They’re a gun for hire, and their audience is getting fatigued from just getting sold stuff every week. It starts to feel less about why you first followed them and more about how many products they can shill. When I’m looking for influencers, I’m looking for folks that don’t have a ton of influencer opportunities or are a little reluctant.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to I’ve Heard That, the podcast from Hurrdat Marketing that discusses digital marketing trends, tips and more.
Hi everyone. Welcome. I’m Megan Tramp, agency director at Hurrdat, and I’m so excited for today’s episode. We are all under the influence. So I have Kirsten and Chris with me today. Kirsten, tell me about yourself.
Yeah, I’m Kirsten Smith. I am the director of social marketing brand communications. I oversee all organic social media influencer marketing for our own brands and our clients.
Awesome. Welcome. Hi Chris.
Hey, what’s up guys? Good to see you. I’m Chris Gorman, Director of media and entertainments. I am currently living in an Airstream, traveling across the country to remote areas. We’re currently in the deserts of Arizona right now, but happy to join you guys.
Awesome. Welcome. So who wants to take this one? Explain, maybe both of you, in your own words, what’s influencer marketing.
Yeah, I can jump. Influencer marketing is opportunity for businesses to work with an individual that has possibly a large reach. This individual is looked at towards, more like they’re an influencer which is the term. And they’re looked that to the audience as reputable, authentic, kind of some or more just trustworthy of what they’re speaking. People are interested into these influencers of what they say in their daily lives and follow along in their life. And really they work well with brands because of that trust that they are connecting with their audience. But really what it is it’s really to reach a larger audience with the authentic person outside of even possibly a celebrity or someone hired, that can speak for your brand.
Awesome. Yeah. Chris, how do you explain influencer marketing? What’s an influencer?
So it’s individuals or groups that are lending their credibility to brands that want to sponsor them. So Kirsten nailed it. It’s a new territory of people that, some of them more recently, accidentally coming into fame and helping push products. But there’s a lot to be said for individuals helping you push your product that have a large reach, because usually that individual has spent years cultivating an audience that really trusts them. So when they’re out there talking about your product, there’s a lot of people that will be willing to trust them. I mean, I buy stuff off Instagram all the time. I have a stack of Athletic Greens that are in our cupboard right now because I just kept hearing it on podcasts I’m like, hey, I need to get healthier, I need to drink something green.
And that’s not a $120 product, so it’s not a smaller buy. It’s a pretty significant product, especially if you’re buying a couple times a year. So you look at the return on investment for whatever they’re spending. I’m sure I’m not the only one who bought Athletic Greens from that podcast. And it’s interesting, the spends that people are putting out there. Influencer marketing is expected to top 15 billion by 2022, in comparison podcast spending is just going to crack a billion in this next year. So influencer marketing has went from here to this crazy [hopistic 00:03:43] ascension probably the last few years. So brands are seeing the value and most brands are increasing their influencer spend.
Yeah, definitely. So take us through what happened with influencers and where did we come from in 2020? How did COVID affect these influencers? And where are we going in 2021? How do you use influencer marketing in 2021?
So everybody was at home. And everybody became a podcaster, a blogger, a TikTok star, an Instagram influencer, a photographer, a baker. Everybody became all these things that they didn’t anticipate in 2020.
And the biggest succ… Yeah creator. The biggest splash was definitely TikTok last year. It was right place, right time, it was maybe for teens and younger generations, but now… Kirsten, how much time do you spend on TikTok yesterday?
Well, I feel like I’m on social media way too often. All day, every day. But I mean, I think the average time someone spends on social or one of the platforms in general is like 50 minutes a day.
Yeah. It’s a black hole.
Yeah. You just get into it and you’re sitting there and scrolling. So yeah, I would probably say, in between channels, sitting there 50 minutes, bouncing back from one to the other. So yeah.
That feels like a low number for some people that I know.
That’s super low. And TikTok has this really crazy addictive trait about it. Because if you think about Instagram stories, most people don’t watch Instagram stories with the sound on, unless you’re really like, hey, I really want to see what this person has to say or it’s a few slides long or whatever. TikTok doesn’t make any sense if you don’t have the sound on. So you’re carving out this weird time for it where you’re like, all right, I’m alone, I have my headphones in or I can have my sound on. And you just keep going and going and that algorithm is so good. It’s funny because we manage a handful of TikTok accounts for different brands or individuals or athletes or stars or whatever, everybody’s feed is so different.
I’ll bounce from one account to the other and I’m not seeing any of the same videos. So TikTok really has this crazy algorithm that really knows you probably better than you know yourself. But this last year there’s a lot of people that came into fame and the influencer marketplace without really anticipating it or really knowing what to do. Early on, a couple years ago, TikTok… We tried to activate some TikTok folks that were kind of blowing up at the time and they’re like, I don’t know how to do this, do I need a lawyer? I don’t know if this is a low number or a high I number. You’re just going to send me stuff for free? I don’t know to get paid. I’m 20 years old and I work at Crispy Cream and I don’t know how to do any of this stuff. But all it takes, especially on TikTok, is one viral video and that sets you up. And Kirsten brought up the cranberry, the Ocean Spray guy, he’s a little bit more deliberate about his stuff.
And he was on the Hollywood Raw podcast, which is a Hurrdat Media podcast, a couple weeks ago. And really kind of told his story where he lived in and really followed the Gary B model, where he is like, hey, I need to be posting five to six times every day, and not for me but it’s for my fans. And so he kept… And he went from very small. I mean he was just grinding his way up on TikTok and that one hits and that changes his life forever. Now he can’t go anywhere without carrying that Ocean Spray bottle. Everywhere he goes he has to have that thing with him. He got a car, he got a house. We were trying to get Fleetwood Mac to play his wedding, that changed his life. But he didn’t anticipate that. He was literally on his way to work in his broken down truck, and now he’s in that market. So 2020 definitely paved the way for an entire new group of folks that are entering into that influencer marketplace.
And I think too, we need to think about the change of how businesses used influencers during year 2020. As Chris mentioned, forecasting 15 billion by 2022. I think just in 2019, it was at $8 billion that brands were spending on influencers.
So they doubling down.
Yeah. So they looked to the influencer market to say, you know what? We don’t know what 2020 has to hold for us. How do we best optimize our ROI and our ad spend? And that’s where they really tapped into the influencer marketing looking at, of course, you want to make sure you’re finding that influencer that supports your brand and your brand goals and your brand guides and vision and mission and all that. So you do need to be very smart about what influencer you’re working with, but brands saw that as a huge opportunity in 2020 to still get their name out, their product out, their services out, without having to dip into a big budget.
Yeah. Big ad spend.
Yeah, big ad spend. So you’re able to be smarter about how you’re optimizing your ad spend during that time. And that’s really where we saw this influx in influencer marketing happen in 2020, because maybe commercial ad spends were down, billboards ads spends were down or in-store foot traffic totally was down. So how do you continue to sell your products to your customers without being able to go into a store? So that’s where they looked towards influencer marketing.
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. So as a brand, you mentioned everyone is getting to influencer marketing, I guess where it makes sense, but how do brands start to vet these influencers? Sounds like there’s a sea of influencers. Where do you even start? How do you find who fits your brand and what are you looking at?
I think with that, you always, like any strategy, start with your goals, what you want to know. Is it a one campaign you want to focus on? Is there one product you want to focus on? And then really searching for those influencers that can support that? There’s a lot of platforms out there that help you look for influencers. We use a tool that helps us narrow down to find the perfect influencers. You can also just look online by hashtags or top influencers that are in the interior design industry or the fashion industry or financial industry, et cetera. So just finding that search, but then it is kind of sometimes a lot of legs that you have to use when looking for influencers. You do need to make sure that they are authentic and they’re able to support brands, and they fit your brand is the most important thing. You need to make sure that they’re going to be supporting your goals, your look, your feel, or it’s just not authentic for either side of the party.
And that’s what the influencer also will let you know and be like, hey, this is not a good fit. If I don’t feel like my audience will think I’m authentic about selling your products. And so searching in that, but you also want to look at their audience and how does their audience react with them? How many followers do they have? Are they engaging? Is their audience engaging with them? Do they have lots of comments? So there’s a lot of different metrics you want to look at, but it all needs to support what you are looking for as a business. If you just want to reach a large audience, you could work with any type of influencers.
There’s nanos to micro, macro celebrity. Celebrity is going to get you the highest reach, they’re going to also cost the most, and they might not have the highest engagement as we’ve seen with a lot of the clients that we worked with for their influencer marketing. We sometimes stick within the micro, some bit into the macro, just knowing the amount of audience they can reach and how engaging they are, and how their audience engages with them. I think is the best metric to follow for a business because you know that their audience is investing into the influencer.
Right. So it’s that sweet spot of ROI where you’re getting that nice big reach, it’s a relevant audience and it’s not costing a fortune, right?
Awesome. Hey Chris, tell us about some of the things that can go wrong or warn us about some of those potential hazards.
Yeah. So Kirsten does a really good job of vetting our influencers. And I’d like to say that we have more hits than misses. But to Kirsten’s point, we can’t just look at enough because it’s easy, especially for advertisers it’s an easy number to understand and be like, oh cool, they have a cumulative million followers across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. That’s an easy number for people to understand, but to Kirsten’s point, that doesn’t tell the whole story. And we’ve had people with say a million followers that have only pushed one product. We have influencers that have, I don’t know, I can’t remember what it was, but 50 to a 100 000 followers, that made this three minute rap video for us and it’s greatest piece of content that I’ve ever seen. And they were one of the more reasonable rates that we paid for an influencer.
And we got so much out of them. Because there are some influencers, and taking a look at some of their older content should give you an idea of how they’re going to perform. It’s funny, I like to look…. When we’re trying to activate influencers, they usually split into two camps. One, the reluctant influencer, that’s like, I don’t know how to do this, I just built this channel, I loved traveling across the country in my school bus and we thought you guys might want to come along, and we really don’t know how to do this. And then there’s the over prepared influencer that’s like, yep, here’s my sales deck, here’s my prices, here’s examples that I’ve done, here’s my resume, and here’s people that you can contact. And again, the easy way is to be like, oh my gosh, this other person is so prepared and ready to go.
But a lot of times I’ve found that that person, they have a system down and they’re just churning these out for anybody, they’re a gun for hire and their audiences is just getting fatigue of just being sold stuff every week. And it starts to feel less about why you first followed them and more about how many products they can show. So when I’m looking at influencers, I like to find folks that don’t have a ton of influencer opportunities or a little reluctant. There is one last year that we were chasing forever, and she just kept saying, “hey, it’s not the right time, I don’t know if this is the right fit for me. I’m already maxed out, I have two products that I’m already pushing right now”, and I really respected that.
Somebody that kind of has those values and doesn’t want to just be a gun for hire for anybody that has a couple bucks and wants to promote their product. And I mean, it works well for everybody too if you can get those products aligned. There’s sometimes where it’s a stretch where, like oh man, this person would never use this product, doesn’t make any sense. And then there’s sometimes where it’s like, this is such a natural fit that you don’t feel like you’re being advertised to by that influencer. There’s a lot of times where I’m scrolling around and I have to go down in their hashtags and be like, is this a sponsor post? Or is this person just really into this product? And if that line is a little bit blurry, that’s generally a good influencer to partner with.
Yeah. So give us some of those good examples. You just mentioned it’s a matchup of both the brand and the influencer’s audience. So what are some of those unique examples that you guys have seen or set up?
Yeah, I think what Chris kind of said about the influencer that maybe is just starting out. That’s kind of like, ah, I don’t know what I’m doing and kind of getting in early, which I’ve seen success on for a couple influencers that we worked with. One person that we have worked with, just not even a great YouTube following, and their YouTube is expected to now have a 100 000 subscribers over the next few months. And that was great because now he’s looking at a future partnership with us and being like, you know what? You guys believed in me at the beginning now I have grown substantially and I want to continue to work with you. And making those connections also is really important with the brand because then the audience also see that. They sniff that out if it doesn’t feel authentic, or if they’re just turning and burning, like Chris said.
And then so I think that example is sometimes getting in early with these influencers when you know that their content is really good, they just haven’t hit their numbers yet. But it has happened with them and we’ve had a couple of those great successes. I think one other example is… Yeah. I mean, I think that Chris nailed it with the authenticity of just being able to say, oh my gosh, is this a sponsored ad? Because I feel like I don’t know or if they’re just really into…
And some of our clients that we have it’s kind of doesn’t make sense. You’re like, why would I have an influencer for this? There is one that’s a storage unit and they’re like, okay. Describe to me why there would be an influence for a storage unit? And then you talk about it and you’re like, oh wow, this is actually a perfect fit. Yes I use storage, yes I need storage. So I think too, making sure they understand your brand and they believe in your brand too. That’s where we’ve seen some successes at too.
Awesome. Yeah, Chris, do you have any examples that come to mind?
It’s a little bit like playing roulette where you’re just placing your bets on who is going to deliver for me? Who is going to be able to push this product? Who is going to be a great brand ambassador? Which is a term that I really like. Influencers is starting to get a little bit of a weird connotation. But I really like, who is going to go out there and be a great ambassador for a brand?
And a really good success example is, early on, this was probably three-ish years ago, and we just found this kid that was making great content on his own. And we saw his Instagram rise from 25,000 followers to a 100 000 followers during the time that we were engaged with him. So trying to identify who is putting in the work and who’s going to be able to be that brand ambassador for you. Because it’s… A lot of people like want to get… It’s weird that influencer is like a career choice now. Because I go talk to schools and high schools and college students that are in marketing. And there’s always a handful that say, oh I want to be an influencer.
And it’s fascinating. It’s not like, oh I want to be a musician who is recognized worldwide. I want to be a movie star. It’s like, nope, I just want to influence people to buy these products that will get paid for. And the ones that we see doing really well are the ones that are authentic. They have a cool story, they’re doing something unique. And also going back to the pitfall thing, one thing that we’ve noticed, and it’s really lucky that we have a tool, we’ve seen a lot of fake followings before. We had an influence that was pitching us a really high price for their content, and when we dove into their following, we found that only 2% of it was U.S based, everything else was foreign countries. And this person had not done anything, not been on TV or movies anywhere else in any other country.
So that’s a pretty good indication that they have a fake following or they have ClickFORM or bots or whatever. And again, why the numbers don’t always tell the real story. If they have a million followers and you go look at some of the comments and none of them make sense, like this is great content, I love this, you were amazing. And you just go look at those people’s profiles, two followers, is created a couple months ago, no photos of them. So trying to find out who those authentic people are, I think is always a plus.
Yeah, definitely. Well, really great advice you guys. I love it. Thank you so much for joining me today and remind to like and subscribe to our podcast.
Speaker 1 (20:37):
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