If merely being exposed to a product could magically induce buying, all ads would work and there would be little for marketers to puzzle over. While product mentions on YouTube are more engaging and trustworthy than mere advertisements, they don't automatically sell products, either. But they can and do sell products, if you know how to leverage them properly.
It all starts with trust.
You want products in the hands of influencers, like YouTubers, because their audiences trust them. It's simple. It also happens to be a more cost-effective way to make your target consumers aware of your product-- more so than conventional ads.
This same dynamic has driven the world of public relations for decades. PR is about engaging the public, historically through the press, now through many more media outlets, including individual YouTube channels. However, because every media outlet's first responsibility is to it's audience, they don't tend to do a lot of selling for you, the company. Nor should they. It's why they do have social influence over their audiences-- because they don't try to sell them.
It's your job to ensure that your products aren't just worth mentioning (so that YouTubers feel like discussing them because they make good content), but that they are worth getting excited about. That's why they call it earned media, after all.
You want favorable coverage? You have to earn it. You want consumers excited enough to take action and buy your product? You have to earn that, too.
While you never have a guarantee that any given YouTuber will like your product, choose to feature it and provide you stellar content that you can use again and again to sell your product, you can stack the deck in your favor. Help them get genuinely excited on your behalf, and impart that excitement to their audience. There are three specific ways to do that.
1. Highlight Your Killer Feature
Most products have at least one good reason why they are different and better than competing alternatives. What's yours? Spell it out. Make it salient and easy to share. Ensure that YouTubers understand why it is different by explaining it in the Product Brief section of your listing.
YouTubers enjoy having important product information at their fingertips, and if there's something about your product that makes it truly special, highlight it! It's not about "talking points" as much as it is about sharing what's newsworthy for a YouTuber and her audience.
Folks in media (including YouTubers) work with companies without pay only because doing so helps provide benefit to their audiences. Seasoned PR pros know that feeding them newsworthy content will get the story out. Killer features can definitely be newsworthy, especially in the world of YouTube product reviews.
Why would I buy that product I saw on YouTube? Oh, yeah, that cool feature, that's why.
2. Provide Killer Advice
This is the first rule of content marketing. Consumers are online to get specific jobs done and to learn about how certain products can help them do that. They don't want to hear brand-produced sales copy. They want help. Insight. Information. Instruction.
Consumers are more likely to search out and believe independent (non-brand) sources of information, like family, friends and YouTubers, which makes them great conduits for your ideas.
Maybe you don't have a highly differentiated or exciting product. While that's a definite liability for a PR campaign, influencers also enjoy being a source of good advice, and willingly share ideas they think will benefit their audience.
No one would ever accuse brands like Cheerios or Campbell Soups of offering exciting products with highly differentiated features. What they have done, however, is foster relationships with bloggers and other influencers around recipes. Here's a roundup of Cheerios recipes on one blog pulled from a number of others, some of which were sent products in support of a campaign called the Cheerios Family Breakfast Project. That's just great PR.
Cheerios earned repeat exposures because of the value of advice (recipes), which included their product.
As a product company, you very likely have insights yourself or in-house that could provide the basis for tips, tricks, how-to's and hacks that YouTubers would gladly repackage and share, while making your product the star of the show. What else would someone use to make a Cheerios-inspired recipe, but Cheerios?
3. Offer a Killer Deal
Are discounts really considered PR? Not usually. However, in the noisy world of online media, what catches consumer attention is the WIIFM principe: What's in it for me? And YouTubers want to share something with their audiences that they can't easily get elsewhere.
A special discount, product giveaway or other highly attractive promotion offered only through YouTubers can help create a stir for your products as audience members take advantage of the deal and comment about it on YouTube and elsewhere, furthering the cycle of social proof beyond one influencer.
According to Retail Customer Experience, 52% of consumers say the number one reason they shop online is for discounts. And, according to a study conducted by Forrester Consulting, "the majority of consumers said digital coupons were more likely to influence their purchase decision than any other type of promotion."
Killer feature, killer advice, killer deal. Anything you can do to help YouTube creators look good and provide benefits to their audience while featuring your product is going to move your marketing from influence to action.
Bonus Tip: Use YouTuber-Created Content at the Point of Sale
Sharing testimonials and favorable media coverage have been shown to improve website conversions because they lend your company added social proof that the user doesn't have to go find-- it's served up right there to see. The same is true of video on product sales pages. According to Shopify, product videos placed at the point of sale increase the likelihood of purchase by as much as 64%.
We often talk about the many benefits of gaining earned media on YouTube, and this is another one. Serving up independent content to consumers in a buying mood is so powerful, we're actually building ways for you to leverage videos where your consumers buy-- right on your site, with a new video player widget, and even on Amazon, with a simple Chrome browser extension.
As we build out and test these new features, we'd love your feedback. Feel free to download the extension using the link above and let us know what you think. Or, if you want to try using video on your own product sales pages, let us know you want in on the beta!
Have other ideas about inducing action from an influencer marketing campaign? Please share in the comments.