BLOG

Brand awareness. Get some.

A Day in the Life of a YouTuber: Three Reasons Why YouTubers Want to Work With Your Brand

Popular YouTubers field brand requests daily, but very few brands make the cut in this competitive influencer market. What can you do to seal a partnership with a YouTuber? Which products do they choose and which brands do they trust?

 

YouTubers value authenticity above all else. They want the brands they use to be a true reflection of their lifestyles. This authenticity benefits brands as well. When real people, in the real world, value your real brand then you have the potential to acquire a loyal customer base.

 

How do you approach a YouTuber and what do you emphasize about your product and plans?

 

1) You foster creative expression and value real experiences. Irfan Kahn, CEO of Blogmint, predicts an influencer marketing trend built around free expression. He writes on  iamwire:

 

Experiencing the product and sharing personal stories around this would drive influencer marketing in 2016. Businesses will give additional creative freedom to influencers so that they can create personalized content for their followers instead of bland product / service reviews.

 

Most YouTubers speak to their audience as they would a friend. Outsiders might not understand all the nuances within the private conversation, but should trust that the YouTuber is reaching out to their demographic in a way that the demographic understands and values. Essentially, brands that encourage the influencer to take creative liberties with the product are likely to make a positive connection with the influencer.

 

2) Your pitch is as authentic as your product. Know your YouTuber. Watch their channel. Understand how your product adds value to the YouTuber's channel and how it will add value to their demographic's lives. And be prepared to send some swag. Nikkie Phillippi, a beauty guru from Santa Clarita prefers to work with brands she already uses, likes and knows well. According to her video, and Hubspot, when an unknown brand seeks her approval "she requests that the brand send her a product to try and then makes a determination about working with the brand. She says she turns down about 90% of the brand integration deals that make it to her inbox."

 

You might send your product to multiple YouTubers without positive results. You also might find yourself wading through a sea of potential YouTubers who would benefit from your product or brand. This is where influencer marketing platforms become important. Influencer marketplaces aren't manipulative or pushy. Placing your product or brand out there for influencers to freely choose and connect with makes for an authentic relationship going forward.

 

 

3) Your brand integrates with the channel's vision, now and in the long-term.  Tyler Oakley, a YouTube personality with eight million subscribers and a strong multi-channel presence, chose a long-term partnership with Audible, where he integrates the service into his popular videos. The keyword here is long-term. Oakley explained during an interview with PBS's Frontline, that he and most members of the YouTube community spend years building their respective channels.

 

Each YouTuber earns their followers by maintaining a consistent philosophy and personality that has evolved organically alongside their channel's growth. Their followers are loyal and YouTubers are trusted. Over and over, in interview after interview, YouTubers explain that they must maintain their sincerity. Sincerity is what made them popular. They aren't fly by night and don't expect their brands to be either. As a brand, be prepared to become an organic part of the YouTuber's channel.

 

If nothing else, remember that YouTube is all about authenticity. Inauthentic product placement “could take away the one thing that makes YouTube stars so appealing,” Jeetendr Sehdev, celebrity brand strategist says. He sums it up like this:

 

If YouTube stars are swallowed by Hollywood, they are in danger of becoming less authentic versions of themselves, and teenagers will be able to pick up on that.

 

YouTubers like Oakley and Phillippi are acutely aware of their audience's predilections and most YouTubers prefer to work with brands that understand and respect their audiences and the channels they have created.

Why Brands are Spending Piles of Money on Influencer Marketing

A recent study found through a survey that 65% of brands have plans to raise their influencer marketing budget in 2016. They also found that influencer marketing is receiving greater investments than display advertising and affiliate marketing. Influencer marketing is becoming more important for businesses for the following reasons:

 

  1. Consumers Use Their Phones to Search for Product Reviews

Many consumers check product reviews online before buying a product. Even if they're in the physical store, they can use their mobile phones to read product reviews. According to Stacy DeBroff, the CEO and founder of Influence Central, one of their studies found that 70% of consumers sometimes check reviews on their phones while shopping. Even when they are ready to make a purchase, they want the best deal, so they check their smartphones for potential better deals before buying.

 

  1. Reading Product Reviews is Part of the Research Process

Customers read reviews as part of the research process before committing to a purchase. They think that it helps them make the right decision. Your brand will naturally have an advantage if a well-respected individual in your niche recommends your product through a review. Many people who come across the review will recognize the influencer as an expert in that niche and will therefore be more likely to trust his opinions.

 

  1. Not Only Millennials Care About Reading Online Reviews

The importance of online reviews extends to older generations as well, not just millennials read reviews before buying a product. In a study conducted by Influence Central and Vibrant Nation, they discovered that 95% of female consumers over the age of 45 searched for online product reviews and first-person recommendations before buying a product. 77% of the women surveyed follow brands on Facebook, and 74% admitted that they're more likely to purchase a product after reading a positive first-person review.

 

  1. Influencer Marketing Expands Their Reach

Another reason brands are investing in influencer marketing is it expands their reach. Influencers have large followings of people whom care about what they say. By connecting with an influencer in your field, you have access to his readerbase. Some of their readers will follow you because you have similar interests and are connected to the influencer they already trust. It will be easier for you to earn their trust as well.

 

  1. Boost Business Credibility

Influencer marketing is an easy way to boost your business's credibility. Once you've built a relationship with an influencer and he shares your products with his followers, your credibility increases rapidly. It will, however, take time and effort to initially connect with the influencer. Remember that no one will talk about your business just because you send an email asking. Think about how many emails influencers must receive every day from people wanting their products promoted by them.

 

  1. Increase Brand Awareness

You could have the best product, but if no one knows your business exists, you're not going to make many sales. Increasing brand awareness is important, especially for startups and small businesses that wish to grow. Influencer marketing is an efficient way to increase brand awareness because influencers already have large audiences that trust them.

 

Conclusion

Businesses are spending more money on influencer marketing this year because of how important influencers have become in the buying process for customers. Many people look to influencers for advice on what to buy and product recommendations. They trust the influencers that they have come to like. To speed up the process of earning trust from customers, clever businesses reach out to these social media stars. The benefits of an influencer posting about your business are worth the initial investment needed to build a relationship with that person.

Why Influencer Marketing Succeeds at Driving Traffic

influencer marketing image

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.

Pros and Cons of Instagram’s New Algorithm Update

Algorithmic or chronological filtering, that is the question. And for today’s legions of Instagram users it represents an existential crisis as potent as Hamlet’s. That’s because the popular photo-sharing platform recently announced plans to sort posts according to user behavior as opposed to the established chronological order. Not surprisingly, upon learning this news many fans of the site got their pitchforks out. The move will also have very real implications for those marketers and businesses that have learned to leverage Instagram’s popularity the old way.                                                                         

 

But, as in life, there are positives and negatives to change. So in the interests of finishing on an upbeat note we’ll list the cons followed by the pros, and hopefully shed some light on Instagram’s latest “Instaupdate”.

 

Cons

 

Content will be missed

 

It’s inevitable. By definition curated content means selected content. And if a robot algorithm is in charge of that selection it’s bound to miss some posts that Instagram users genuinely want to see. With the old chronological system, users could at least count on receiving all posts from those friends and businesses they followed—even it resulted in untold amounts of digital clutter.

 

Businesses could experience a (short-term) loss of engagement

 

This new update will hit some businesses hard, particularly the smaller operations. Those without huge marketing budgets who relied on constant updates to keep eyeballs on their profile can and likely will feel some negative impact by switching to an algorithm model. The silver lining in this dark cloud is that the switch will create a level playing field allowing small businesses to compete directly on Instagram with the giant brands: whoever has the most engaging content will win the game.

 

To succeed, analytics will be required

 

In order to ensure that their posts show up in a newsfeed, businesses are going to need to think in terms of optimization. The problem with this new reality is that Instagram doesn’t have its own native analytics tool. Therefore folks are going to have to go searching for third-party solutions to measure engagement. Luckily there are some good Instagram analytics tools out there, and many of them are free.

 

Pros

 

It’s nothing new

 

Scroll through the newsfeed on your Facebook account and you’ll see sponsored and curated content. Posts on these platforms are algorithmically sorted by relevance and have been for some time. Regardless of whether Facebook users think this is a perfect system or not, one thing is clear: the world hasn’t stopped spinning on its axis. By and large people have accepted the change, and the smart money (as well as the history of social media) says Instagram users will as well.

 

A smaller target means higher engagement

 

Until recently, businesses with a foothold in social media could craft a generalized marketing campaign in the hopes it reached the largest possible audience, buyer segments be damned. And while it may be painful for marketers to tear down the old and start from scratch, they might just find benefits they didn’t know existed. For example, Instagram’s entire reason for adopting this change is their finding that users miss, on average, 70% of all content on their feed. To offset this shortfall they want to ensure the posts that do pop up are relevant to the user.

 

And this cuts right to the heart of marketing in 2016. Businesses will now be forced to deliver relevant, high-quality content to a targeted demographic. In turn this will help cultivate the relationship between brand and consumer, fostering awareness, engagement and loyalty.

 

There’s an easy compromise

 

Even the most obstinate Instagram user has recourse to maintain the status quo and see posts in chronological order—and they barely have to lift a finger to do it. All that’s required is to turn on post notifications. Users won’t soon forget about this feature, either, since everyone from celebrities to global brands are now prodding their followers to turn on post notifications in a bid to stay relevant in the face of this sea change. It’s a simple solution—even if the trade-off is receiving an irritating alert every time someone you follow posts something.

 

To recap, it’s not difficult to see that Instagram traditionalists are going to hate this algorithm rollout if and when it occurs. What history tells us, though, is that they will likely learn to accept it. And by focusing on the pros on this list, folks can keep their chin up and stay positive in the face of the inevitable march of progress.  

The Most Popular Influencer Marketing Platforms Reviewed

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.32.46

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

CB

 

 

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

famebit

 

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.45.08

 

 

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.57.52

 

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.57.14

 

 

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.56.29

 

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.55.54

 

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.55.19

 

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.54.40

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.53.49

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.52.52

 

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.49.41

 

 

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

Screenshot 2016-05-19 21.48.26

 

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.

 

Influencer Marketing in 2016: Go Big, or Go Home

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?

Six Tips to Kick Off Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

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.

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

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.

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

 

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

 

requirement

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

 

hashtag-fail

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”

want11507-15hGKk1391462246

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

 

instagram-tricks-644x250

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

 

transparency-e1459203526433

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

Video

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?

blogging-inside

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.

Increase Brand Loyalty Through Earned Media Influencer Marketing

 

Despite seismic shifts in the landscape of advertising over the last century, the goal has remained unchanged since the beginnings of commerce: get people to talk. Yes, for all the fancy, flash-in-the-pan marketing strategies in existence, nothing beats good ol’ word of mouth. And that’s what influencer marketing is: priming a target audience to speak enthusiastically about a product or service. Here’s what brands need to know right now about a trend that is only ascending.  

 

The future is wide open

 

In 2016 few advertising tactics are as effective as influencer marketing. According to a statistics from Burst Media, influencer campaigns are earning almost $7 for every $1 they spend. So if money is changing hands, how is this not negatively impacting brand perception or the credibility of the influencer? It’s because successful marketers and opinion leaders have found a way to turn paid media into earned media.

 

YouTube is much more than a repository for funny cat videos. Influencers have found their home on YouTube, and they’re racking up subscribers by the millions. These stars of new media have become such a force in marketing that Ogilvy & Mather have put out a list of the top influencers on YouTube. These are often regular people who have created channels that cover everything from health & fitness to sports and gaming. In a way, you could say that the diversity of these YouTube influencers makes sense, since they represent the demographics that they’re talking to. And speaking of audiences…

 

It’s an efficient way to reach a target audience

 

You could draw a direct line from the rise of influencer marketing and earned media to the coming into their own of the Millennial generation. This group is defined as those born after 1980, and they represent hundreds of billions in annual buying power. To tap into this robust market requires a conduit. Magazine ads and billboards are relics of the Mad Men era; the hard sell turns Millennials off. They value authenticity above all else, which is why they turn to social media to see the products their peers are buying and sharing. Influencers have tapped this vein, thus becoming the conduit to which the new generation receives their marketing messages. Align yourself with the right influencer speaking to the right audience, and loyalty will follow.

 

To pay or not to pay

 

That is the question. The conundrum has to do with the fact that much of earned media is actually paid media. And many marketers are all too happy to promote this canard. Even so, the lines can easily be blurred because each influencer is different. Some, like Felix Kjellberg, whose gaming site Pew DiePie channel boasts some 42 million subscribers, are content to receive free products they can sample and review. Others, like Kelli and Daniel Segars of the YouTube hit Fitness Blender operate under the philosophy that their work is their livelihood, and they utilize the exposure the platform provides to launch their own commercial endeavors. The trick is navigating the ethics that varies from influencer to influencer and thought leader to thought leader. To go from paid media to earned media is to first and foremost ensure that the partnership doesn’t lessen the credibility of the influencer. Such tactics are transparent to today’s highly engaged consumers. Brands need to ensure that their product or service fits in the wheelhouse of the opinion leader.
These facts on the ground should act as a springboard for every marketers looking to round out his or her social-media strategy. Influencer marketing should be a major component (if not the component) of this endeavor, because doing it successfully is all but guaranteed to increase ROI and brand loyalty.