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How an Authentic Social Media Strategy Can Strengthen Brand Positioning

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In the seven-step brand-positioning process, step one on the list involves determining how your brand is currently positioning itself in the marketplace. And if a social media element isn’t part of that strategy, context will be lost in the mind of today’s ever-connected, techno-savvy consumer. In fact, implementing a solid social-media strategy is crucial to leveraging step number seven on the list: testing the efficacy of your brand-positioning statement. So if your brand’s statement of purpose falls flat on social media, it’s safe to say it won’t gain a foothold anywhere.

With that in mind, here’s some reasoning, as well as a few concrete examples, that prove how utilizing social media the right way can position your brand ahead of the pack.

 

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The earned media factor
Increasingly, earned media is overshadowing owned media and paid promotion as the more effective of this marketing-strategy trifecta. That’s because a new generation of consumers exists that places a premium on authenticity above all else. They trust people over brands, they look to peers for product recommendations, and they eschew celebrity endorsements. Brands who create a successful earned-media campaign in this endeavor will not only enjoy more conversions, they will effectively turn customers into brand advocates who spread positive word of mouth across their various social-media profiles. That’s brand positioning at its most artful.

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The influencers
Now that marketers are realizing the value inherent in generating positive word-of-mouth authentically, the question then becomes how best to accomplish this? Any earned-media campaign should utilize influencers. These are social-media personalities, regular folks, who can be enlisted to review a product or service on their medium of choice. But influencers come in two categories: those who charge for their reviews and those who request only product samples. And while it’s not an automatic deal-breaker to pay an influencer, doing so eliminates all earned-media credibility. Therefore, facilitating trust in the minds of consumers via various social-media platforms is the best way to achieve authenticity and earned-media.

 

The rise of Instagram
As a photo-sharing site, Instagram is tailor-made for any visually appealing product—especially those manufactured by beauty and fashion companies. Take this jaw-dropping statistic for example: of the 13 million social-media interactions that took place during the fall 2016 New York Fashion Week, 97% occurred on Instagram. This trend wasn’t lost on beauty powerhouse Chanel, who invited top Instagram influencers to their production facility in the South of France for a retreat that just happened to feature the company’s upcoming No. 5 L’Eau fragrance. And mass Instagramming ensued.

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Another point: there are newer businesses out there who aren’t merely saying that social-media is an important factor, but that Instagram itself is their most important touch point. Brands who can leverage the visual potential of their product and marry it with a successful Instagram strategy have the potential to draw millions of eyeballs to a single campaign.

 

The YouTube case studies: GoPro and Activision
GoPro could have been like many other consumer electronics manufacturers and relied on traditional “push” advertising to get the message out. But they had loftier goals, and achieving them meant harnessing the power of social media—YouTube to be precise. By creating a channel and allowing users to upload their own videos, they effectively turned their audience into branded content producers. This allowed them to rise above their status as a simple electronics product and become social-media powerhouse. The result is that GoPro is now synonymous with travel and adventure sports. Every indication is that it will be a while before a competing product supplants them in this realm.

This undated product image released by GoPro shows the GoPro digital camera mounted on a ski helmet, a hot item on ski slopes and other settings. Brian Stacey, director of new product development for Tauck, the cruise and tour company, likes the camera because it attaches “to pretty much anything _ your helmet, arm, leg, canoe” and can shoot images while you’re moving. (AP Photo/GoPro)

This undated product image released by GoPro shows the GoPro digital camera mounted on a ski helmet, a hot item on ski slopes and other settings. Brian Stacey, director of new product development for Tauck, the cruise and tour company, likes the camera because it attaches “to pretty much anything _ your helmet, arm, leg, canoe” and can shoot images while you’re moving. (AP Photo/GoPro)

But YouTube isn’t just for brands whose wheelhouse is the great outdoors. There is a major gaming market too. Activision is a video-game company probably most famous for its “Call of Duty” series, which is one of the most successful franchises in the history of console gaming. Not one to rest on their laurels, Activision took the then-risky move of focusing the brunt of their marketing on YouTube influencers. The strategy paid off, and their influencer videos were viewed almost 10 billion times, which is more than 20 times the views they received on the game’s own website. The result is that Activision positioned their brand front and center in the minds of gamers everywhere. And by utilizing honest reviews from respected YouTube personalities, the company achieved their monumental success the best way possible: authentically.

 

call of duty


So how will your brand position itself at the forefront of social-media influence? Will you go all in on YouTube and Instagram? Will you find your niche in newer platforms like SnapChat, the way
Burberry did to great success? Or maybe you’ll innovate beyond the rest and create a heretofore unheard of social strategy that boldly goes where no brand has gone before. The sky’s the limit.

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5 Influencer Marketing Statistics You Can’t Afford to Ignore

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These days, media channels inundate consumers with more paid advertisements than ever before. Not surprisingly, the impact of this is that people trust paid advertising less and less. Anyone with a computer knows that advertisements are literally everywhere on the web -- and consumers are more resistant and critical than ever when it comes to paid marketing.

 

Likewise, social media and online communities are growing larger and more active every day. Word-of-mouth and earned marketing are incredibly powerful because consumers trust that the promoters have nothing to gain from product sales. Influencer marketing harnesses this power through systematically partnering with influential groups and individuals to review, discuss, and promote brands and products.

 

While influencer marketing can be paid -- similar to a sponsorship -- it's most effective when the influencer is unpaid, speaking freely and candidly, and without bias. This aspect is exactly what makes influencer marketing trustable to consumers.

 

If you're someone interested in optimizing your marketing to reach and convert the most people at the least cost, influencer marketing is a growing channel you can't afford to ignore. Check out these 5 influencer marketing stats that will show you why influencer marketing is on the rise and projected to stay there.

 

  1. Increase consumer trust. Consumer trust and confidence in paid advertising has declined by over 20% since 2007 (Nielsen). Conversely, consumer confidence in word-of-mouth advertising is growing -- 92% of consumers trust recommendations from peers or trusted authorities. Likewise, 72% of people rely on social media to inform their purchasing decisions (SimplyMeasured). These are staggering statistics, and they suggest a huge change in the way we think about marketing. Starting communities and conversations is now a more powerful tool for building brand trust and recognition than almost anything else.

 

  1. Stop wasting money and boost your ROI in marketing dollars. Influencer marketing averages a better ROI than any other online marketing channel. Businesses make an average of $6.50 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing -- and the top 13% of businesses make $20 or more for ever dollar spent (Tomoson). This is a higher ROI than paid search, affiliate marketing, and SEO optimization for organic search. Marketers rated influencer marketing as the most cost-effective marketing channel (along with e-mail marketing).

 

  1. Join the majority of who invest in what works. Businesses rated influencer marketing as their fastest growing online conversion channel, ranking higher than email marketing and search engines. (Tomoson) 59% of marketing departments are expanding their influencer marketing budgets this year (Tomoson).

 

  1. Convert better customers. Customers acquired through influencer marketing tend to be more loyal with a higher lifetime value. Customers converted this way are more likely to be active on social media, youtube, and product reviews. This means they're also more likely to promote your product via their own word-of-mouth channels, adding to their life-time value. Customers acquired through word-of-mouth have a 37% higher retention rate. (Deloitte) Because it's cheaper to retain customers than convert new ones, this strategy pays on multiple levels.

 

  1. Drive brand lift. Earned media drives 4 times the brand lift as paid media (Bazaar Voice). This means that people who interact with the earned media are way more likely to be impressed than they would be if they heard the same information through a paid channel -- and way more likely to buy from you or promote your brand. Again, this is about trust. Consumers know that someone who doesn't directly stand to profit from converting them is probably more worthy of trust.

Want to learn more about developing or beginning your influencer marketing campaign? Interested in best practices for identifying influencers, developing influencer relationships, and implementing new strategies in the most effective way? 

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What Ad Blockers Tell Us About the Value of Influencer Marketing

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Programs and plugins that block ads on desktop and mobile web browsers have been around for a few years. But they hadn't led to worries or even panic among marketers until last year, when Apple announced that it would include ad-blocking capabilities for its Safari browser in the release of iOS 9. Just like that, a formerly niche tool went mainstream.

 

The months since have seen a rapid rise of ad blocking apps, which now dominate Apple and Android download charts. As millions of consumers are blocking ads, marketers have begun to panic: how are they supposed to spread the word about their brand if they're being shut out? The answer is deceptively simple: influencer marketing. Here are 3 conclusions we can draw from the rise of ad blocking.

 

1) Consumers are Tired of Ads

Above all, the rapid rise of ad blocking capability stems from one major underlying current: consumers are simply getting tired of ads. No less than 45 million U.S. internet users now regular use ad blocking software for a more organic content experience, and that number is expected to continue rising.

 

By the millions, American consumers have decided that getting exposed to more than 360 individual advertisements is simply too much. When they search on Google or log into Facebook, they want to get relevant results and hear from friends rather than being bombarded by promotional messages. And given the ubiquity of digital advertisements, who could blame them?

 

2) Revenue Will Be Lost

For marketers relying on digital ads to spread their message, the consequences of this development are undoubtedly troubling. As much as half of your target audience may simply be unreachable via digital ads, staying in the dark about your brand as a result.

 

According to one projection, advertisers will lose an astonishing $41 billion in 2016 advertising revenue as a result of ad blocking. Unsurprisingly, marketers relying on digital ads for brand exposure and revenue generation are panicking. Some went so far as to calling it the "Ad-Blocking Apocalypse."

 

3) Alternative Outreach is Needed

In reality, though, the rise of ad blockers is no need to panic. User are undoubtedly tired of ads, which is why they're starting to take action and control of their digital content exposure. But the one thing they're not doing is cutting their digital time as a result. In fact, the average consumer continues to spend more time online every single year.

 

Digital media consumption is not decreasing; the way in which we consume digital media is. Consumers don't want to hear promotional messages from brands, preferring authentic messages from their peers instead. For marketers, this insight offers an invaluable opportunity.

 

Enter influencer marketing. What if, rather than spending your time and resources trying to reach an audience that does not want to hear from you, you would spend it on engaging the influencers to whom your audience does want to listen? Naturally, your efforts will be much more successful.

 

Influencer marketing does not just offer theoretical benefits in an ad blocking age. Businesses who engage in this philosophy experience significant ROI. One study suggested an ROI that is 11 times as high as traditional banner ads, while another showed peer-focused marketing to generate $6.50 for every dollar spent.

 

In short, influencer marketing offers an ideal opportunity for marketers to circumvent ad blocking technology and get their message straight to their target audience. It's a marketing method specifically designed for an age in which consumers are able to decide who they want to listen to, seeking authenticity rather than promotions. So if you're worried that ad blocking may negatively influence your marketing strategy, consider influencer marketing as a more authentic, organic and beneficial alternative.

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Why Influencer Marketing Succeeds at Driving Traffic

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Everyone wants in. 59% of marketers are throwing money at it, even more plan on throwing money at it, and 60% of all fashion brands are already utilizing it. So what is this new tactic that an overwhelmingly large segment of businesses are fixated on? It’s influencer marketing, and its success turns on the ability of social-media personalities to reach a target audience. Its appeal can be summed up in one attractive acronym: ROI. The facts on the ground say that brands that invest in an influencer-marketing strategy see an average $6.85 return on investment for every dollar spent. And as long as social media remains the dominant form of modern communication, the potential for grand returns will always be there.

 

But what makes it possible? Where, exactly, does influencer marketing derive its power, and what drives its success? The answers to these and many more questions are outlined below.

 

It’s authentic

 

First and foremost, influencer marketing works because it’s authentic. According to other statistics, modern teens trust YouTube personalities more than celebrities. This is part of a larger generational trend that sees a great majority of people (92%) trusting word-of-mouth advertising over traditional “push” marketing. It’s this pushiness that has turned off a modern consumer base with its own voice. They no longer want to be “talked at” by brands—they want to have a conversation with peers in the form of product reviews, social-media shares, and “likes.”

 

And that’s what the typical person sees when they follow an influencer on social media—a peer, a regular person who, like them, wants practical info and an honest recommendation. Businesses who adhere to an earned-media influencer strategy can leverage this authenticity to greater returns.

 

Its social

 

To buttress the introductory statement that social-media is today’s dominant form of communication, you only have to look at the numbers. Over two billion people from around the world are active social-media users. Facebook alone has 1.44 billion visitors, and YouTube runs a close second with a billion. And with nearly two billion of the global populous accessing social-media from their mobile devices, influencers have a direct conduit to a target audience any time of day or night via two major touch points. As far as reach is concerned, print advertising and commercials simply can’t compete.

 

It delivers the information an audience is already looking for

 

This notion has been wrapped up in a new marketing term called “Me2B” consumerism. The gist is that today the customer reaches out to the business—or in this case the influencer on their social-media channel. It’s why traditional advertising has little use in today’s world. Sure, display ads have managed to keep up (and will likely be a part of any brand’s strategy for the foreseeable future), but the statistics aren’t encouraging. Click-through rates across all platforms are an anemic 0.06%. Ad blocking grew by 41% over 2015, and that number will only continue to rise. The problem is that it’s a B2C tactic in a Me2B world. Influencer marketing is the strategy of today.

 

It blurs the line between advertising and content

 

Another reason influencer marketing drives traffic is because oftentimes folks don’t even know they’re looking at sponsored or branded content. Even with disclosure hashtags, such as #ad and #sponsored, it’s still possible to craft an influencer campaign that creates an authentic viewing experience. And businesses don’t need to focus merely on individuals. A successful example of this is when Friskies partnered with digital publisher Buzzfeed to create their “Deer Kitten,” campaign. Many found the video entertaining, but, more than that, most folks didn’t even know they were viewing what is essentially a commercial until halfway through. It proves that successful brand positioning can be a product of stealth.

 

It turns individuals into brand ambassadors

 

Even before the digital revolution, positive word-of-mouth was the ideal endgame for marketers. Indeed, according to McKinsey, word-of-mouth is responsible for twice the sales of paid advertising. And those folks who listen to recommendations by their favorite online influencers not only convert to customers, but if the product quality is as advertised they then carry the torch and tell their peers. This effectively exceeds positive word mouth, and turns the customer into a loyal brand advocate.

 

It’s time for businesses to stop doing all the heavy lifting themselves. By partnering with an influencer it’s possible to reach an individual target directly, eliminating the need for market segmentation and other superfluous noise. And if brands can deliver on their promises, they have the potential to convert millions of viewers in a single campaign.

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The Most Popular Influencer Marketing Platforms Reviewed

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Out of all the stats that illustrate the virtues of influencer marketing, this one from Expertcity speaks volumes: Influencer recommendations carry 22 times more weight than those from average customers. That’s a stark finding. And when you consider that popular social-media personalities now wield even more influence than the Kardashians and Taylor Swifts of the world, you have a trend that speaks directly to today’s authenticity-craving Millennial generation.

It’s no wonder, then, that marketing pros are going all in on this tactic. So in the interest of uncovering the brand-influencer conduit right for you, here are 14 of the most popular influencer marketing platforms in existence today, sorted alphabetically.

1. BrandBacker

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Paid media, earned media

 

This is one of the more established influencer-marketing platforms around, as it was founded in 2001. In that time BrandBacker has amassed a reported network of 10,000 influencers in multiple countries producing content in various languages. The website is streamlined, which makes signup a simple process of selecting whether you’re a brand or influencer and then requesting a video tutorial that includes pricing plans. Regarding compensation, BrandBacker influencers receive payment, discounts, or free samples, depending on the campaign.

 

One feature unique to BrandBacker is their Content Showcase. Businesses who utilize this tool can collect all brand-relevant content from across the web via a search algorithm. It then curates and organizes the content so clients can see exactly who is talking about them and when. The Showcase then allows brands to publish this curated content straight to their website.

 

Platforms supported: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram

 

Pros

 

  • Team Manager feature helps businesses to build a team of influencers around their brand and monitor progress and efficacy
  • Features like the Content Showcase are a welcome bit of marketing ingenuity

 

Cons

 

  • Despite offering influencer incentives other than monetary compensation, little of what BrandBacker offers meets the definition of “earned media”

2. Content BLVD

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Earned media

 

Content BLVD is a marketing and review platform that adheres to the fundamentals. Their leadership believes that true influence cannot be bought, so in the spirit of authenticity they offer good ol’ fashioned product reviews free of monetary influence. Those targeted influencers who do receive free products in exchange for YouTube vlog opinions are obligated to disclose it. Regarding service, companies pay Content BLVD a monthly subscription fee based on the number of authentic earned mentions they want each month. Content BLVD handles influencer targeting, outreach, shipping, and reporting.

 

Content BLVD caters to businesses with physical consumer products rather than, say, software or general services. This strategy has allowed them to carve out a niche of over 6,000 YouTube product experts and 3,000 product companies. Content BLVD’s influencer program has driven more than 40 million views for their customers since its beta launch in the spring of 2015.

 

Platforms supported: YouTube

 

Pros

 

  • The focus on consumer product companies enables streamlined fulfillment of ongoing campaigns.
  • Simple “Set it and forget it” model is a huge time-saver for product companies.

 

  • The elimination of sponsorship fees brings brand awareness campaigns within reach of smaller product companies. Plans start at just $200 per month.

 

Cons

 

  • Only YouTube influencers at the moment.

3. FameBit

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Paid media

 

If FameBit’s goal was ease of use, then their platform is a runaway success. Businesses new to the site will find a simple homepage with two tabs: one for content creators and one for brands. Then it’s a straightforward sign-up process and on to the creation of a branded or sponsored campaign. Brands choose from a variety of social media platforms, the type of content they’d like to create, and finally the campaign details. This includes a drop-down menu listing price-range options starting at $100 all the way up to $10,000+.

 

After clicking the tab to create the campaign, the advertisement goes live and is open for bidding from FameBit’s network of freelance content creators. Brands can see profiles of interested creators as well as featured influencers segmented by category. FameBit earns a service fee of 20% per transaction for accepted bids.

 

Platforms supported: YouTube, Instagram

 

Pros

 

  • Easy sign-up process for both brands and creators
  • Straightforward user interface
  • Self-service client dashboard allows businesses to create an entire influencer campaign in four steps

 

Cons

 

  • Impersonal despite a strong messaging system; it’s a fast-food method to creating an influencer campaign
  • The strict “business transaction” nature of FameBit’s platform robs influencer marketing of its authenticity
  • The hefty sponsorship fees price most small companies out of the market.
  • Many influencers complain about the time it takes to repeatedly “pitch” brands, and the low acceptance rate from companies.

4. Revfluence

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Paid media

 

Like FameBit, Revfluence has a straightforward homepage with sign-up options for brands and creators. Where Revfluence diverges from its competitor is in its expansive network and highly detailed analytics dashboard. It offers an ability to connect with some 200,000 influencers filtered by industry, location, demographics, content quality and niche keywords. They also tout a customized CRM collaboration tool that puts brands in direct contact with dozens or even hundreds of influencers at once. Businesses can then track each individual campaign’s performance and measure ROI via the same dashboard.

 

And for those brands who still have cold feet about influencer marketing, the website offers case studies highlighting specific examples of Revfluence’s success.

 

Platforms Supported: YouTube, Instagram

 

Pros

 

  • Large database of influencers from which to choose
  • Detailed analytics dashboard tracks all relevant metrics

 

Cons

 

  • Not great for first timers; brands need to be well versed in the finer points of influencer marketing before signing up

5. Influenster

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Earned media

 

Around since 2010, Influenster is a marketing and review platform that aims for earned-media credibility with product opinions offered in vlog, blog or simple review form. They also operate under the same disclosure rules as Content BLVD. On the surface Influenster appears to be doing something right, as the platform has a user base of some 1.5 million “influensters” who share their likes and dislikes across social media.

 

To further enhance the user experience, Influenster supplements their reviews and recommendations with coupons, giveaways and rewards programs.

 

Platforms supported: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+

 

Pros

 

  • Rates “Influensters” by hundreds of data points, including social connections
  • Mobile app allows Influensters to post reviews in real time and reach audiences at the moment of purchase.

 

Cons

 

  • Brands have no control over messaging
  • Some product “reviews” can be light on substance. This is a result of members increasing their social media activity in order to earn “badges,” which in turn help them receive free products.
  • Reports of some members being disgruntled after not receiving free product packages

6. Izea

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Paid media

 

In Izea’s world, bigger most definitely means better. In their quest to become the largest marketplace platform around they’ve absorbed other content websites, such as Ebyline. These tactics have allowed them to amass a database of over 250,000 influencers operating across multiple social platforms and filtered by reach, quality and other metrics. That’s more than enough content producers to satisfy the needs of the some 50,000 businesses and brands already signed up with Izea.

 

Those who create an account have the option of three payment plans ranging from $0 to $299, all of which offer various services such as ShareMonitor URLs and SocialSearch Groups. These are analytics tools that keep track of, among other things, URL shares and hashtag popularity.

 

Platforms Supported: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Snapchat

 

Pros

 

  • No shortage of content producers
  • Comprehensive website features everything from marketing research reports to investor information

 

Cons

 

  • Has so many affiliates and subsidiary companies that some brands Izea lists as their clients don’t even know they’re doing business with them
  • Since its inception in 2006, Izea has embraced pay-per-post marketing, effectively eliminating any and all earned media credibility

7. TapInfluence

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Paid media

 

TapInfluence’s mantra is “Content created by consumers for consumers.” With a database of 30,000 opt-in influencers, they seem primed to deliver on that promise. But what sets them apart from many of the marketplace options is that they focus primarily on the software, touting speedy workflow automation, precise influencer identification, audience targeting and multi-channel analytics tracking. They offer three pricing plans: standard, enterprise, and agency. The plans for enterprise and agency offer unique features such as onboarding, account managers, influencer strategists, pitch meetings and partnerships. TapInfluence’s website also features successful case studies.

 

Platforms supported: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine

 

Pros

 

  • Comprehensive software featuring a number of resources and tools
  • Tap Library offers eBooks, videos and webinars

 

Cons

 

  • TapInfluence’s standard price plan starts at $1,999 per month, which makes it cost-prohibitive for many smaller businesses.
  • Boasts of a “200% ROI” are difficult (if not impossible) to verify

8. Traackr

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Paid media, earned media

 

Traackr operates primarily as a marketing campaign manager with a focus on brand-influencer communication. The site facilitates dialogue, so businesses can glean insight directly from influencers and sculpt their social-media campaigns accordingly. This is a good thing, since Traackr works with influencers on all major social-media platforms as well as a number of blogging sites. Besides offering robust influencer profiles, Traackr has an equally detailed analytics engine that automatically keeps tabs on brand mentions, daily post updates and trending content.

 

In keeping with the communication theme, the site allows businesses to track conversations in real-time with multiple contacts. This also applies to email and Twitter feeds between influencers and brands. Traackr also provides supplementary marketing reports and data services.

 

Platforms Supported: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+

 

Pros

 

  • Built-in communication tools facilitate communication between influencers and brands
  • Detailed online profiles of Traacker’s influencers

 

Cons

 

  • Poorly organized website contains too much text and too little direction
  • Some users have reported the platform as being “buggy” and prone to glitches

9. InstaBrand

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Paid media

 

Instabrand holds its own with the other players on this list regarding features and functionality. It offers the “greatest hits,” like a large database of influencers operating on all major social platforms. And signup is a simple one-click process right from the homepage. According to InstaBrand they have an extensive client list of some of the biggest names, including Universal, Colgate, Pepsi and H&M.

 

One way in which InstaBrand is looking to capitalize on new social trends is through their Snapchat Labs feature. This tool allows brands to utilize Instabrand’s pool of some 12,000 Snapchat influencers to reach that coveted 18-29 Millennial demographic.

 

Platforms Supported: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Snapchat,

 

Pros

 

  • Advanced search engine lets brands filter influencer results by a number of criteria including demographics and post relevance
  • Assigns campaign managers to offer personalized attention

 

Cons

 

  • Website is heavy on content but light on substance and detail of Instabrand’s platform

 

10. Instafluence

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Paid media

 

Instafluence has carved out a unique niche for itself by offering influencer services to clients looking to promote their mobile app. The platform leverages the popularity of social-media celebrities to boost downloads of the apps in question. Another selling point is that they offer to build a loyal Instagram following for the brand and then hand over the reigns so they can continue promoting on their own. Their client list includes heavyweights such as Viacom and Dos Equis, and many of their celebrity influencers enjoy millions of subscribers.

 

One interesting turn of events is that Instafluence was acquired by Disney’s Maker Studios in 2015. The platform can now utilize that production company’s some 55,000 YouTube channels and roster of celebrity vloggers to help promote client apps.

 

Platforms Supported: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Instagram, Vine, Snapchat

 

Pros

 

  • The purchase by Disney means Instafluence can deliver a massive rolodex of genuine social-media celebrities
  • The only platform on the list that focuses solely on apps

 

Cons

 

  • Focuses solely on apps

 

11. Niche.co

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Paid media

 

Niche is an influencer platform with quite the social-media pedigree. One co-founder, Rob Fishman, worked the social beat at Huffington Post, and the company hired Vine celebrity Cody Johns as its creative director. Starting in 2013, Niche found early success with Vine campaigns in the world of film and retail. Now they’ve opened up their platform to all the major social networks and, according to their website, work with over 30,000 content creators.

 

For the benefit of everyone involved, Niche creates a single profile for their creators that aggregates all content from their various social profiles. Then they display these profiles in a leaderboard, complete with full analytics tracking, so brands can see which influencers are moving the needle the most.

 

Platforms Supported: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr

 

Pros

 

  • Leaderboard helps brands decide which influencers will deliver the most engagement to their campaign
  • Comprehensive profile helps creators see which of their content is hitting the mark
  • Niche takes a hands on approach, being involved in most aspects of the campaign creation

 

Cons

 

  • Website doesn’t make it easy to engage with content creators; brands who want free reign to create campaigns and communicate with influencers directly may feel stifled

12. Octoly

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Earned media

 

Octoloy is a French platform that has also gone all in on YouTube. Billing themselves as the “first Free Store dedicated to creators,” the site is an automated marketplace that connects brands with vlog personalities. In just a few steps, brands can search a database of influencers and create a campaign by offering nothing more than free products. Most of the influencers on Octoloy are beauty YouTubers, and the site claims to monitor some 800,000 channels.

 

Like Content BLVD, Octoly places a premium on authenticity and honest reviews. They charge a fee for brands to access their database.

 

Platforms Supported: YouTube

 

Pros

 

  • Doesn’t pay influencers; focuses on authentic product reviews

 

Cons

 

  • Octoly is limited by focusing predominantly on beauty items—although they are branching out into video games
  • Only YouTube influencers
  • Lack of practical info (or even a demo or tutorial) on the homepage means businesses that sign up with Octoloy are doing so without knowing very much about how it works

13. Grapevine Logic

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Paid media, earned media

 

The last YouTube-only option on the list, Grapevine works with over 200 brands. Like Content BLVD and Octoly, the site offers influencers product packages in exchange for reviews. Unlike the two other sites, Grapevine also deals in paid sponsorships. Like some of the best options, the homepage is in simple WordPress format, and they offer their own analytics engine to help brands and agencies find the most visible influencers.

 

Platforms Supported: YouTube

 

Pros

 

  • A database of over 60,000 influencers
  • Pairs brands with a dedicated account manager to facilitate the process

 

Cons

 

  • Only YouTube influencers
  • The option for influencers to receive monetary compensation diminishes earned-media potential

14. Popular Pays

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Paid media

 

This website offers speed and ease of use to help businesses leverage the power of Instagram to promote their brand. On the speed end, Popular Pays promises that visitors can list a campaign in six minutes, receive proposals from Instagrammers 24 hours later, and have the campaign up within a week. By focusing almost exclusively on Instagram (they have dabbled in Pinterest and Snapchat, too), Popular Pays can keep their website streamlined and simple.

 

Popular Pays boasts a network of over 25,000 Instagrammers who have created sponsored campaigns for top brands including Nike, Target and Glenlivet. As for the bread and butter of Instagram—the photos—the site offers brands the option to use original photos from the content creators themselves, or full-rights pics from Popular Pays’ database.

 

Platforms Supported: Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest

 

Pros

 

  • Straightforward website free of visual noise
  • Popular Pays stays out of the pairing process, letting brands and Instagrammers find each other organically
  • Great for sponsored content on Instagram

 

Cons

 

  • Caters primarily to just one social-media platform
  • It’s a bid marketplace, meaning Instagrammers get paid for their services, thus eliminating any earned media

 

While there is no single winner on this list, certain sites might be a better fit than others. For example, those who want an established option dealing in multiple social platforms may opt for BrandBacker. On the other hand, those who want to create an earned-media video advertising campaign could be better off with Content Blvd. And businesses without previous influencer knowledge looking to setup quick campaigns with minimal hassle might prefer FameBit or, or Grapevine Logic, or Popular Pays. It all depends on the brand.

If you represent an influencer marketing platform that you feel I should have included, just say so in the comments.

 

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Influencer Marketing in 2016: Go Big, or Go Home

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millennials

Ask any savvy advertiser when the tectonic shift in marketing occurred, and they might pinpoint the rise of digital content, or the ubiquity of social media, or the intersection of the two. But looking at it through a wider lens, it’s easy to see that the dwindling efficacy of traditional ads coincided with the rise of the millennial generation. This group (those born after 1980) grew up immersed in technology, and many have been tethered to social media since they were old enough to manipulate a keypad. These consumers can sense the hard sell a mile away, and they value authenticity above all else. Forward-thinking brands have appealed to this new demo by focusing on peer recommendations, usually via social media. Thus, influencer marketing was born. Here are five reasons brands and advertisers will want to go all in on it this year.

 

Influencer marketing beats all other strategies
Where it concerns customer acquisition channels, influencer marketing leaves the competition in the dust. Looking at the trend closer, it’s not difficult to see why this is occurring. The popularity of influencer marketing is increasing in relation to the popularity and expansion of social media. Where once influencers relied primarily on vlogs and blogs, they can now be found on almost every social platform under the sun, from Snapchat and Vine to Youtube and Instagram.  The proliferation of new mobile-optimized social media platforms gives influencers access to increasingly larger audiences who can be reached anytime, anywhere via their smartphones. You simply can’t get the same reach or engagement with ads.

 

No one blocks an influencer
With almost 50% of all Internet surfers utilizing some form of ad-block technology, it’s no wonder pop-ups aren’t having the desired effect. With influencer marketing you’re not paying for the possibility of reaching a target demo—you’re buying a direct path to conversion, provided the brand in question has sound market research on their end. That’s because trust has already been established, and the long reach of the influencers paves the way.

 

It’s as cost effective as they come
Influencer marketing yields $6.50 for every $1 invested. (2)

Brands operating with limited budgets might still think traditional email marketing campaigns are good bang for the advertising dollar—and they’d be right. After all, how much does it cost to disseminate an email blast? However, not only is influencer marketing a cost-effective advertising strategy, it’s actually tied with email marketing as the most cost-effective channel out there. Want an even more savory statistic? Businesses are averaging a whopping $6.50 per every dollar they spend on influencer marketing. It’s hard to argue with such an attractive ROI.


Content isn’t as effective without influencer marketing
Many businesses have rightly upped their content output to keep brand awareness at a fever pitch. But since 2014 engagement has been decreasing. It’s not that the public is no longer hungry for content—far from it. But they now prefer to receive their messaging via a trustworthy entity. Enter the influencer. Brands who supplement their original content with influencer marketing will not only see greater engagement, but they’ll be able to track KPIs more effectively.


Influencer marketing yields more engaged customers
Many businesses are realizing that influencer marketing delivers far more valuable customers than other tactics for one simple reason: word of mouth. There’s no clearer path to conversion than strong buzz, and influencers with loyal audiences have no problem creating generating meaningful buzz for products and brands they like. So not only does strong word of mouth lead to conversions, but consumers often times become brand advocates, sharing their positive experience across their own social media channels, feeding the cycle and increasing average order sizes.
These are a few of the reasons influencer marketing is primed to explode, and why all marketers need to make this a big part of their strategy in 2016. But one other crucial stat is this: 59% of marketers plan to up their influencer marketing budgets this year. Will your brand be left out in the cold?

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How Many Media Impressions are Enough?

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All marketers have the same goal: expose your brand to as many of your target consumers as possible.

 

With limited time and resources, of course, you can't do it all. And you shouldn't. Which is why you're not buying Super Bowl ads. You're out in search of earned media impressions-- the foundation of a smart marketing strategy-- because they're more cost-effective and more meaningful to your audience than just about any other kind of brand exposure.

 

But making little ripples isn't going to do you any good. You've got to make a splash.

 

Earned Media Is...

Well, earned media is a lot of things. In fact, this amazing post by Heidi Cohen on her way-too-awesome marketing blog points to 38 expert opinions on it. Read them. Know them. They're all right in their own way. And they all agree on one common denominator:

 

While some folks in the field do consider any unpaid exposure to be earned media, including me mentioning your awesome new product to my friend in conversation, I'm going to draw the line a little higher up the funnel.

 

To be clear, word of mouth matters. A lot. You want your target consumers talking about you. But to make that happen, you can't start a whisper campaign in a coffee shop. PR is about scale; it's about reach. And I don't consider my mouth to be a broadcast medium-- not unless the words I speak make it to this blog, or to our YouTube channel. By that rationale, Heidi didn't acquire any earned media when I talked about her post with my co-worker, but now that I mentioned her article on this blog she sure did.

 

Last weekend, when I was dancing on the bar with my tie around my head, I wasn't earning media because people in the room were gawking at my impressive moves. I earned it when they started posting my performance to YouTube.

 

I'm kidding. I don't wear ties.

 

Media Impressions Are...

Views. Actual views from real people. That's a media impression. Forget what you might hear about "ad impressions" and how unreliable they are. While the display ad industry is finally catching on to the notion that an ad served is not necessarily an ad viewed, PR folks have known this since forever. That's why they focus on getting brands inside the content their target consumers already enjoy... not the ads that interrupt the viewing experience.

 

You'd never consider your advertising strategy complete just because you bought an ad no one saw. The same is true of earned media-- your efforts don't much matter until you're capturing beaucoup impressions from people in your target audience.

 

So when we're talking YouTube placements, you gain a media impression every time a new viewer watches the video that includes your product. The likelihood that one video is going to score you the impression counts you need is very low, however. Which is why it's best to seek out as many placements as you can.

 

Ripples? No, You Need to Make a Splash

Your target consumer's world is a busy place, so by focusing on including your product in the content they choose to engage with, you have a much better chance of elevating above all that distraction. You have to do more than throw a few little pebbles in the pond, however. Any single placement isn't likely to make that splash you need, unless a big rock star like Bethany Mota is doing it for you. (Get it? ROCK star? Big splash? ...nevermind.)

 

Tribe Dynamics discussed just how much impact YouTube star Bethany Mota's completely serendipitous mention of NYX Cosmetics' blush had on the success of their company. Bethany's single effusive product mention was worth at least as much as a $100,000 paid placement in Glamour magazine.

 

And that's a very conservative estimate. Many believe that YouTube impressions are worth as much as $0.38 each, making Bethany's mention worth over $650K. But it didn't cost NYX a thing to capture over 1.7 million media impressions of their product.

Now that's

 

Bethany Mota got crazy Media Impressions for NYX

 

It's not clear whether the 1.7 million view total also includes the additional reach NYX would have gained through Ms. Mota's Facebook, Twitter and Instragram accounts. NYX may have gained much more value than was even captured here-- YouTubers nearly always share content across their social media accounts. Whatever the case, NYX scored big. And it's going big that matters.

 

No one would study how NYX got their product onto one small channel that earned 145 views. We all want that BIG result. But NYX got lucky. Maybe you'll get lucky like NYX did. Too bad getting lucky isn't a repeatable strategy.

 

The good news is, you don't need that one big hit like Bethany Mota. You just need the result: lots of impressions of your product to your target audience. Thankfully, there are countless mini-Motas out there with their own loyal followings, ready to talk about your stuff.

 

How Big Do You Want Your Splash to Be?

Note in the graphic above the cost equivalent of spending $100,000 on a Glamour magazine placement vs. the thousands of influencers who could be reached simply by sending out free products. Seems like a mighty fine deal.

 

Chances are, you don't have a $100,000 PR budget. So how big IS your budget? Do you have one? If not, consider working backwards from the number of media impressions you think you'd need in order to have a successful campaign.

 

Let's suppose you want 20,000 impressions for a trial campaign. That's probably the low end for reach that would be worth the effort. If your product costs $25 (your cost, not retail value) + $8 shipping + $20 for Content BLVD's placement fee, and you secure 20 videos that average just 1,000 views each. Your total cost is $1,060, and your cost per impression is just $0.05. Pennies per impression. If YouTube impressions are worth $0.38 each, you're getting a great deal for that exposure.

 

The average views of videos YouTubers make working with brands through our platform is 2950 views per video. So your impression costs are likely even lower than $0.05 each, depending on your own product cost and shipping. Let's bump up the goal to 100,000 impressions using a more accurate impression count:

 

$25 product + $8 shipping + $20 Content BLVD fee = $53 cost per video. At a still conservative 2,000 view average, you'd need to secure 50 placements for a total cost of $2,650. That's still under three cents per media impression.

 

Are there other ways you can quickly secure thousands of media impressions for $0.03 each without relying on luck to get them? Or dozens of media pitches that don't go anywhere? We don't have to tell experienced PR folks just how labor-intensive it is. You already know.

 

Playing the Numbers Game

It's simple: the more placements you get, the more opportunities you have to create high quality media impressions with your target consumers. Remember, even if true word of mouth is the goal, you'd never consider your PR campaign complete because a few people had a conversation about your product. You want thousands talking; you want your product to be top of mind.

 

According to McKinsey, as consumers actively evaluate their buying options, they don't rely on brands. They reach out to get information and consider new options. You already know this. But what you might not know is the extent to which consumers have turned the historical buying cycle on it's head.

 

 

When consumers begin to actively consider products to purchase, two thirds of the influence on their decision-making comes from consumer-driven resources: friends, family, and trusted internet sources, like YouTube personalities. Which means you don't get to control your brand message nearly as much as you'd like. It just doesn't work that way. But if you give your products to the right people, your message will get out.

 

To make sure your products are even considered, you've got to get more impressions. So put them where they belong-- in the hands of dozens of the influencers your target consumers trust most.

 

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