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April 2016

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Six Tips to Kick Off Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

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The colorful American WWII General, George S. Patton, once said, “A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied 10 minutes later.” This can certainly be said of advertising in 2016. With influencer marketing all the rage, companies who don’t strike while the iron is hot risk losing momentum as well as leaving money on the table. And since influencer marketing is only predicted to grow, here are six “good solutions” businesses big and small can implement to take advantage of this, the most effective new advertising trend of the digital revolution.

 

Target the audience

 

Brands need to identify which type of customer they want and reach out to the right influencer with the right audience. When a business connects with an influencer who enjoys mass audience appeal in the appropriate niche, then everything falls into place; the message directly impacts the buyer’s decision-making process. Also, satisfied converts are more likely to spread the news of their positive experience across various social-media channels.

 

Focus on the secondary market

 

By its very definition, influencer advertising produces big results by appealing to smaller niche demos outside the primary market. By building relationships with these secondary buyers, they in turn influence peers, driving sales and revenue. Those businesses that have properly defined the type of individual their product serves can then feel free to approach influencers who reach these “future primary buyers.”

 

Cultivate a relationship with influencers

 

It’s not enough to view the outsourcing of influencers as just another line item on a balance sheet. It’s crucial to build solid relationships because this will pay dividends in the form of a successful campaign and increased brand loyalty. Marketing pros recommend incentivizing influencers depending on their preferred form of compensation. For those who charge for their time, implementing a commission-based rewards program for top influencers is a good idea. For those who don’t, sneak peaks of new products or services should suffice.

 

Don’t’ just focus on the big fish

 

Every business wants the biggest influencer to endorse their brand. They want those stars of YouTube and social media to turn their legions of followers into brand ambassadors and drive sales into the stratosphere. A noble goal, but it misses the bigger picture. Another way to go involves organizing a list of prospective influencers into tiers, meaning that tier one represents the biggest of influencer fish while tiers two and three would represent those with smaller, more niche followings. As mentioned above, due to the sheer power that influencer marketing wields, focusing on these ancillary markets helps build a genuine interest in the brand.

 

Bring the customers into the mix


There’s no need to limit the generosity to your influencers—reward customers as well. Giveaways, promos and coupon codes should be commonplace. Ensure that each of these offerings has a shareable quality that makes customers want to snap photos, create hashtags and share it all with their peers on social media. Taco bell, of all brands, found success with a unique influencer campaign that involved sending rings that spelled “Taco Bell” in cursive to a handful of “special ladies” along with an accompanying handwritten note. Those who were a part of this “put a ring on it” influencer campaign shared photos of their ring and letter on Instagram, thus disseminating Taco Bell’s branded message to an even wider audience.

 

Keep tabs on the results

 

Influencer marketing has the capability to produce a staggering return on investment. In fact, official stats put the averages at $6.50 for every marketing dollar spent. That’s why it’s imperative to properly track results in order to see exactly where the campaign is working. The good news is that identifying KPIs is easier than ever due to just how much influencers resonate with their audience. Businesses can look at which influencer is producing the most amount of buys, event visits, social media shares, introductions, mentions, etc. and adjust their tactics accordingly.

 

Ultimately businesses are eager to work with influencers because of their reach and resonance. But successful influencers didn’t earn their status by ignoring the interests of their audience—they directly appealed to those interests. And brands who help influencers to serve these loyal audiences will find just the type of success they’re searching for.

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Consumer Product Companies – Here are 4 Influencer Marketing Stats to Help Prioritize Your Efforts

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Influencer marketing works. That much is clear, given countless examples around the web pointing toward the fact that earned media outperforms its paid alternative. And yet, because of the lack of control they perceive to have over influencers, many marketers still shy away from the concept as an effective marketing strategy. If you have been hesitant to prioritize it in the past, here are 4 influencer marketing stats to convince you of its success.


Influencer Marketing, Defined.

First, let's clarify a few things. Influencer marketing is a broad concept, so you may be using a different working definition than your peers. To ensure we're on the same page, here is how we define the concept:

Influencer marketing means priming a target audience to speak enthusiastically about a product or service.

The idea is simple. Because they are perceived to have little incentive to be dishonest, your target audience's word carries more weight and credibility among their peers than your promoted message ever could. Everyone knows you are just trying to sell a product. But if your audience starts raving about it, other members of the same audience group will be much more likely to believe its merits.

And that's not just common sense. Consider these 5 stats that prove the same point:


1) Word of Mouth Brings Customers

As mentioned above, the basic concept behind influencer marketing is the idea that customers, not brands, spread organic ("earned") promotional messages. And this basic concept is also the reason for its success; according to a McKinsey study, word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of its promoted counterparts, and customer gained through word of mouth marketing have a 37% higher retention rate.

These statistics emphasize that brands should prioritize influencer marketing. Not only is it more successful than paid media in increasing your customer base, but it also attracts higher-quality customers that will ultimately drive your revenue more substantially.


2) Word of Mouth Adds Credibility

Make no mistake: the reason word of mouth plays such a significant role in attracting quality customers is because of added credibility compared to traditional advertising. In the digital age, most consumers have become wary of banner ads and other type of paid media; look no further than the recent ad blocking trend for evidence.

Word of mouth, however, remains immune from the increasing cynicism surrounding digital ads. 88% of customers trust online reviews by strangers as much as they would recommendations from friends. Meanwhile, 84% of consumers trust online reviewsmore than any other type of marketing initiative. Adding word of mouth strategies to your marketing means improving your credibility significantly.


3) Influencer Marketing Provides Impressive ROI

Because of the power of word of mouth, and the low expense of leveraging influencers, this marketing concept provides a higher return on investment than most (if not all) of its paid counterparts. One survey found that on average, businesses who engage in influencer marketing earn $6,50 for every marketing dollar spent.

The survey's findings may be surprising at first, but make perfect sense upon further analysis. 'Traditional' paid advertising means having to pay money each time a potential customer sees your ad. While influencer marketing does require some investment, marketers don't have to pay money to increase the reach. The result is lower spend for better results.


4) Your Competitors Do It

According to a May 2015 study, 84% of marketers said they would launch at least one influencer campaign within the next twelve months. The reason for the method's popularity is simple: the same study also found that 81% marketers who had already engaged in influencer marketing found it to be successful.

In other words, the success of influencer marketing has led to widespread use of the concept. Not engaging your audience to spread the word for you can mean being left behind by your competition.

All of these statistics come back to a simple truth: influencer marketing works. That's why it's both the fastest-growing and most effective digital channel available today. Is your company leveraging word of mouth from members of your target audience? If not, it may be time to start.

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How to Make Sense of the FTC’s Disclosure Requirements for Social-Media Promotion

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Since 2010, the FTC’s FAQs section of their Endorsement Guides has been gathering digital dust. Not anymore. In 2015, they updated their guidelines to stress the importance of full disclosure as it concerns digital marketing. It’s a hefty read—especially for all those marketers who didn’t know there were ethics rules in the first place. But don’t fret: here’s a useful mini-guide to help navigate the roadblocks the Federal Trade Commission has erected to keep us marketers on the straight and narrow.

 

 

 

The new requirements

 

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Even more pertinent (and frustrating) than the new regulations is that the FTC released them with all the fanfare of the parking authority when it changes the cleaning times on your street. That is to say, quietly. There was no national news conference or even a press release. They’ve placed the onus firmly on the marketers to sift through their Endorsement Guides. A little dubious, to be sure, but the solutions to many problems are fairly straightforward.  

 

Of tweets and hashtags

 

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The more creative advertisers out there thought they had some wriggle room as it regards Twitter. Because the text is limited to 140 characters, they reasoned, the social-media platform should be immune to disclosure rules. Not so, and the FTC is making that clear. They even have a primer on their website that offers approved disclosure options (for example, “#ad” only uses three characters). Their view is that people have learned how to condense big ideas into 140 characters—so it’s not impossible to condense a disclosure into fewer than 10.

 

Eschew the “likes”

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For a long time certain marketers engaged in unethical practices to rack up Facebook “likes.” This was for the simple reason the FTC never really cracked down. But not only are they now coming down hard on buying and soliciting “likes,” so is Facebook. In November the social media giant ended “like gates,” or the process of requesting “likes” in exchange for viewing content or participating in contests on FB. This is no great loss, since any marketer still hanging their hat on Facebook “likes” as a social media strategy probably thinks PPC advertising is the wave of the future. The “likes” just aren’t important anymore.

 

Muddy waters

 

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Not all of the FTCs rules are cut and dry. For example, if a local restaurant offers a dollar or two off a meal in exchange for folks posting Instagram photos of themselves enjoying a meal, the FTC won’t likely be kicking down any doors. Having said that, there is no clear line, so a local business might think they’re in the clear by offering a contest or discount reward, but then they receive that notice letter from the FTC. That’s why legal experts who are weighing in on the recent changes advise to err on the side of caution—which brings us to our next point.

 

To disclose or not to disclose

 

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The FTC seems to have a modicum of respect for the general public’s intelligence. For example, when Payton Manning hocks pizzas on TV, it is assumed the public understands he is cashing a paycheck. But the same doesn’t necessarily apply to online marketing. If a popular YouTuber has garnered millions of channel subscriptions showcasing various health and beauty products, they may think it’s assumed their audience knows they are receiving free products or even money. This is in error; full transparency is now required. And YouTubers in particular will want to take the next point to heart.

 

YouTubers need to disclose upfront

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Literally. The FTC recommends all video disclosures must appear at the top of the video, not in the description body. And if it is long-form content then it ideally needs to appear multiple times throughout the clip. That means YouTubers with a habit of livestreaming are under particularly intense scrutiny to be forthcoming about whom they’re working with.

 

Are bloggers immune?

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Yes and no. The FTC acknowledges that they aren’t monitoring bloggers specifically. But that doesn’t mean a blog is a haven safe from the ethics patrol. If a regular reader of a popular blog suspects backroom dealings are afoot between the blogger and a brand, they could contact the FTC, and the FTC will pounce.

 

In the end, brands everywhere should be eager to engage in full disclosure and show their audience that they are above board. This has nothing to do with altruism and everything to do with the dominant target demo of the moment: the Millennials. This is a generation that places a premium on honesty and authenticity. Marketers who want to reach these whippersnappers in an effort to build brand loyalty will meet them on their terms—they’ll come clean about the nature of the relationship of the influencers with whom they do business.

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