Time to talk about the brand side of things
If you're an influencer, you can use this post to learn more about the brand side of influencer marketing plus get an idea of some ways you can help collaborations run smoothly when working with newer or less experienced brands.
If you're a brand, here are some mistakes you might be making with your influencer collabs or marketing strategy as well as some ways to get it right.
Did you know that 71% of consumers are more likely to buy when referred from a blog or social media? Are you aware that 86% of women refer to social media before buying something? [sources here & here] Do you know that influencer marketing content delivers a return that is 11X better than traditional forms of digital marketing?
Influencer marketing is at an all-time high. But you already know this. That’s why you are interested in using bloggers & influencers to promote your brand or product. Whether you’ve been doing it for a while now, or are just getting started exploring the blogger landscape, here’s a few of the top mistakes to avoid in your influencer marketing campaign.
NOT ASKING FOR ENOUGH INFORMATION
So you found a blogger on instagram you’d love to work with to promote your product. You love her aesthetic, and see that she has 5,340 followers. Great!Next step is to reach out with “Hi, I’m _____ from ____ company, and I want to collaborate with you. I would love to send you a sample of my _____ product in exchange for a review or sponsored post on instagram! Let me know if you’re interested. Thanks!” ...Right?
Not so quick. There are quite a few things you need first before you throw a collaboration offer out there. Here’s a list of the most important ones:
- What do her instagram feed, other social accounts, and website look like? Are they professional? Does it make sense as a place to promote your brand?
- Is Instagram even her best social media network? Maybe she’s primarily a YouTuber, or does better promoting on Facebook.
- What other brands has she worked with in the past? Did the content she created match the look and feel of that brand? If she were to create that same content around your product does it fit your brand?
- What’s her niche? If she is primarily a beauty and fashion blogger, it doesn’t make sense to reach out to her about promoting your energy bar product.
- What does her engagement look like? Does she have 5K+ followers, but only receives an average of 38 likes per post? (This is ok for brands, but not good for a blogger, you want at least 2-3% but shoot for 5-10% for smaller bloggers under about 10K) How many comments does she get on average? Who are the comments from? Are they people that look like your target customer or are they primarily other bloggers?
- Have you reviewed her feed content besides just how pretty her photos are? Are there any clear brand image conflicts that don’t make sense for your brand? For example, your company is very outwardly vegan, but her feed has a lot of posts promoting real fur vests, custom leather boots, etc.
Still interested in working with her? Reach out to say you're interested in a collaboration and ask her for a press kit. This will tell you more about her blog & social stats, demographics of her followers, and the types of collaborations she accepts, it sometimes includes her compensation requirements, etc. If there is anything you want to know that is not included in her press kit (such as a list of brands she has worked with in the past) then ask her for it.Don’t feel bad about asking a lot of questions before settling on a collaboration structure. That’s exactly her job. Bloggers should be able to provide you with information about what exactly her influence entails and what it can do for your brand.
NO CLEARLY-DEFINED GOALS FOR WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHEIVE WITH YOUR INFLUENCER COLLABORATION
“Exposure” is not a goal. “Generate additional exposure for my strongest and most used social media channel by increasing followers 15% in two months” is. There are three main reasons for working with bloggers / influencers. Your goal(s) should very clearly fit within one of these categories:
1. Brand Exposure
2. Direct Sales
3. Future Collaborations
Tips For Setting Your Goals:
MISUNDERSTANDING BLOGGER COMPENSATION
While there are plenty of bloggers who are more than happy to partner with you to promote your brand in exhange for products, there are also plenty of bloggers that require hefty sponsorship fees in order to create content around your brand or product. Whether you're a small brand with a small budget or a large brand with a whole budget category devoted just to influencer marketing, the key is knowing what you want and what deliverables you're going to get for the amount you're willing to spend.There are three basic types of compensation:
1. Discount + Affiliate programs
This type of compensation program is often labeled a Brand Amassadorship and includes offering bloggers a discount on anything they buy from you and then an additional affiliate commission based off any referral sales they make through promoting your product.
Short story: It's generally a best-practice to avoid these. I've been in and around enough blogger groups to know that most quality bloggers HATE this program structure with a passion. If you're ok working with smaller bloggers who might be willing to take these on since they're just starting out then you might have some success, but bloggers with a bigger following who have been in the industry a while won't even look twice at these kinds of programs. Why?
Long story: Let's dig deeper into why many bloggers don't like these. Let's start with the softball: you're asking bloggers to make a purchase from you and then also promote your product to their audience. In a world where bloggers are compensated for that promotion and influence as a stand alone service, asking them to pay you for a product then promote it for free is sure to ruffle some feathers.
More than that, bloggers' primary value proposition to brands is to use their influence to generate awareness about your brand which in turn will hopefully lead to sales. If your product is a good fit for their audience and it is a genuinely good product, you'll see sales. However, blogger's don't have control of their audiences purchasing habbits - they can't make people buy things. So to base their compensation solely off sales is a bit of a stretch unless they are promoting something they genuinely love. Otherwise they are doing a lot of work creating content and giving your brand free advertizing with no guarenteed compensation for their efforts.
Don't get me wrong, some bloggers are more than happy to partner with you on this collaboration structure, just be advised that its not the norm and expect to get many many no's from quality bloggers before you get a few yesses.
2. In-Kind collaborations / Gifting Campaigns
In-kind collaborations are when brands "gift' bloggers free product or services in exchange for post(s) or a review of their experience with the product or service. Seem like a fair trade? Well in some cases, it is. If the blogger genuinely loves your product or brand already, then getting it for free might be a definite yes for them.
Quality bloggers will only accept a in-kind campain if it's:
(1) a brand they truly love
(2) a brand that fits their aesthetic and primary blog topic / niche, i.e. fashion, beauty, etc.
(3) they're a newer / smaller blogger who has a smaller following than you and they are hoping you'll re-post or feature them
(4) Your brand is a non-profit or local business and they want to support you cause, e.g. charity or shopping small,
(5) they love your brand and want to build a genuine relationship with you to pave the way for future paid collaborations.
If the stars allign and you find a blogger who is willing to post about your brand in exhcange for free product, you've struck gold...but there's a flip side. Gifted products are considered taxable income. Since they were provided to bloggers with the intent of getting something in return, i.e. a post, they are not technically a gift. This means bloggers must claim the value of the product as income and pay taxes on it. This also includes items you give a blogger to give away to her audience. (Psst..You can offer a cash-gross up to offset this.) Not only that, bloggers have expenses for their content creation like photography, tech support and hosting for their website, design services, etc. No matter how much a blogger is willing to collaborate in exchange for free things, they don't pay her bills at the end of the day.
In-kind collaborations are a great fit if you're a local brand teaming up with a local blogger, if you're a non-profit business, or if you are working with a smaller blogger that you can genuinely help out through the collaboration. We're talking things like re-posting her content to your Instagram account that has significantly more followers than hers, or featuring her on your blog or website alongside the content she created on her blog and social channels.
3. Sponsored Content
Sponsored content is a collaboration where you pay the blogger a fee in exchange for creating content about your brand. They can take the form of a classic sponsored blog post collabroration, sponsored social media promotions, sponsored giveaways (blogger is provided product to give away and also paid a giveaway fee), sponsored video content (think video or facebook live), and so much more.
If you haven't been around influencer marketing very long, your first question is probably,
"How do I know if the rate a blogger is quoting me is reasonable?"
The first trick is intuition: does it feel right for your brand? Have you had sucess with a similar marketing strategy in the past? And do you personally think it will be worth it? If you are unsure, you can ask her to clarify her rate or give you an explanation for how she calcualted it. Don't be afraid to get a good understanding of what all you're getting from the collaboration before agreeing to it.
The second check is market rates. On average, a good ballpark number is $10-13 for every 1,000 followers, i.e. a blogger with 10K followers on instragram should charge about $100-$130 for a post on Instagram. Why the variation? Many reasons. Maybe she hires a professional photographer to take her photos, maybe her engagement rate is very high, maybe she includes a video on her instagram story with each post. If a blogger is within this range and you feel she's a good fit, you've got a green light. If she's below it, you've probably scored a deal and if she is to far above it, you probably want to ask for a little more clarification as to why she's priced that way.
Another good resource for market rates is Social Blue Book. Again, it doesn't factor in some of those things that are more art than science like aesthetic, content quality, and extra features, but its a good reference point.
3 Ways to ask bloggers to collaborate:
- Instead of “I would love if you would review / promote my product on your blog and social accounts! I don’t have a budget” ask “Do you accept gifted products in exchange for reviews?”
- Instead of “If you'd like to write a review for our ____ and we will feature you on our social media account(s)!” ask “Would you be willing to accept a gifted product + appropriate grossed up tax compensation? We'd also love to feature your content on our social accounts.”
- Instead of “Hello! I would love to advertise on your site and I can pay $___ for _____.” ask “I’m a new / small business working with a very low budget, can you customize one of your existing collaboration packages to fit my needs?”