Applying influencer marketing principles to your business

Influencer marketing is a game changer for brands trying to make their mark on the world and effectively engage consumers. Influencer marketing is when a brand or product is promoted by a key content creator – a person or a brand with an abundance of followers on a social media platform and has the power to influence consumer behaviours as a result.

Another way to think of it is a bit like a celebrity endorsement. However, some of the most popular social media influencers are just normal, everyday people. Their posts are organic and relatable, which is what creates trust between the influencer and their followers.

Here are a few things your business can to do position themselves as influencers:

Be authentic

Authenticity is what makes influencers so successful and powerful. You don’t want to blend in with just any old brand with similar products or services, you want to stand out!

Sharing behind-the-scenes content is a great way to do this, giving your brand a ‘human’ touch and highlighting the work done by the people who help the brand stand so strong. To put it simply, people relate better to other people than they do to companies – so showcase your team’s heroes!

HubSpot creates great authentic content, and knows the way to everyone’s hearts ….dogs!

They also share quotes from their employees in their Instagram posts, giving the business a way to better engage with their audience.

Consistent content

If you started watching a TV show and it stopped airing for a few weeks, but then aired another episode, would you still keep watching? Probably not.

Sharing consistent content is key because it’s how people develop and maintain a connection with your business and keep up-to-date with your brands’ activities. While consistency is important, you need to make sure you don’t trade quality for quantity! Like a TV show, viewers can easily change channels if the episodes are boring.

Influencers tell a constantly evolving story – audiences often wonder what they’re going to do next, where they’re going to be, and even what they’re going to wear.

Become a leader

Thought leadership is one way of becoming a leader. It’s pretty much what the name implies; use your innovative thoughts and ideas to establish your business as the ‘go-to’ in the industry, differentiating your business from others.

CEO and founder of Skaled, Jake Dunlap, describes thought leaders as people who possess an innate ability to contribute to today’s conversations while also speculating what will happen tomorrow.

Thought leaders recognise trends before others and implement them within their business, which is what helps them lead. Use the intel that comes out of your industry to educate your audience, whether that be through a blog on your business’ website or through other forms of social media content, such as podcasts, Q&A’s and infographics.

General Electric excels at sharing authentic content and positioning themselves as a thought leader in the aviation, power, and renewables space. They capture their employees working on projects, describe their roles and the projects in great detail, inviting the audience to head to their Instagram Story for a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on.

They also have an incredible microsite, The Pulse, dedicated to health, science and tech news, which has positioned them as thought leaders among the industries they operate in. Articles range from cancer studies, to updates in emergency service technology, to how technology empowers human connections.

 

Authenticity, consistency, and leadership are the stepping stones to ensure your company stands out as an influencer, so take the leap!

Want to learn more? Read on!

 

Hero image by @taramilktea

Easy-Peasy Ways Video Can Educate Your Audience

A recent article from eMarketer Retail revealed that of all media, video is the likeliest to sway a consumer towards buying a product. In fact, 86% of consumers are influenced by video when it comes to purchasing.

On top of that, four in ten YouTube users will regularly head to the platform and consume content about a product before buying it. When asked why, they almost all responded that they wanted to see the product in action. Reading a blog, article, or review isn’t the same as seeing the product in use: both as a how-to and to see its results.

Here we chat through easy ways you can use video to educate consumers about your product.

Have a sense of humour

The key to creating a video that performs is to engage your audience, and one of the best ways to engage is via humour. Humour allows you to create a narrative around your product or service and is key for telling a story about a product that might not be overly glamourous or aspirational.

One of our all-time favourite examples is from Squatty Potty. There’s something about a prince eating Unicorn “poop” that makes us want to buy this toilet stool.


Don’t be afraid to use humour, but use it wisely. Successful humour finds that sweet spot- being funny for a reason- rather than being funny for the sake of being funny. Remember to play to your audience and never lose sight of the fact that you’re telling a story, not just a joke.

Video testimonials

70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions so integrating influencers into your video marketing strategy is key building your brand authority by association.

Influencers can lend a voice of authority to your product offering via video reviews about your product. Tips for enhancing authenticity include:

  • Keep it natural. Rather than going for a high-level production, shorter Instagram videos are more genuine and realistic. These videos are more akin to behind-the-scenes content which is more relatable and enticing for viewers.
  • Create a sense of immediacy. Experiment with Live videos reviews. You can create hype around the Live video by giving your audience hints about the date of the video review with “coming soon” and “watch this space” posts.
  • Use tools to add flavour to your video. Video editing tools like iMovie, Quik and Splice are easy iPhone tools that allow you to edit videos and add graphics, enabling you to cut and chop your video in multiple ways to make the most of your content.


The key takeaway is that educational video doesn’t have to be complex – they can be short, snappy and snackable but still add value to your audience when done well.

Read next: New Metrics of Success: Video Completion Rate & Watch Time

How to Find an Authentic Influencer for your Brand

Partnering with influencers is starting to become a must for companies and organisations both big and small.

Not only do these partnerships provide authentic content from a trusted source for your brand, but they can also help you find new audiences, increase engagement and conversions, improve your SEO and shed light on a new branding direction you might not have thought of.

After all, 68% of consumers trust opinions from other consumers, and, at their core, that’s what influencers are: consumers who share their stories on a large scale.

But when your brand commits to working with an influencer, the challenge then becomes finding the right influencer to fit your strategy.

Before you commit to bringing an influencer on board for your next campaign, ensure they tick off the essentials listed below.

Authenticity

The first, and most important, rule when it comes to finding an influencer is authenticity.

No one likes to feel like they’re watching an ad, and no creator wants to feel like they’re making one. If you partner with an influencer, it’s best if they genuinely enjoy or believe in your product or brand.

For a great example of this, you need look no further than when the Hawaiian Tourism Authority worked with Instagram travel blogger Jordan Herschel. His travel Instagram is based on taking photos of beautiful scenery from around the world, so a partnership that sent him on shoots across the picturesque islands of Hawaii felt totally authentic.

Engagement rates

With influencers, bigger isn’t always better.

It’s often easy to be dazzled by a social media personality who has millions of followers, and assume that, by virtue of that huge following, they’re the right fit. But much more important than the number of followers is the level of engagement.

As a rule of thumb, influencers should have an engagement rate of 2% or more. This signals that they have grown their following organically means you should be able to rely on them to help build a community around your brand.

Respected Thought Leader

An influencer isn’t just a pretty face to put in front of your products.

The best partnerships come from working with genuine opinion leaders who are keyed-in to their audiences and their industries. They can’t be constant promoters who are hocking a different product every second post.

What’s the worst that could happen when you work with an influencer and that is the case?

Well, look no further than Kendall Jenner and her Pepsi fiasco earlier this year.

Good Attitude

This should go without saying, but it’s always best to work with people who have good attitudes.

Any influencers you work with have to be open to collaboration, discussion, and feedback on their ideas. If they’re closed off, or unwilling to listen to suggestions, then it may be best to avoid them.

It can also be a good idea to put together Terms of Agreement at the start of the partnership, making clear what is and isn’t acceptable content. Setting clear rules and boundaries is a great way to make sure things never get off track.

Strong Understanding of Their Audience

An influencer needs to have a clear understanding of their audience.

Not only does this ensure you’re targeting the people who might be interested in your brand, it also means that the influencer’s sponsored content will be created in a way the audience can enjoy and engage with.

A True Partnership

On top of being authentic thought leaders, great influencer partnerships stem from being just that: partnerships.

You can’t approach influencers like they’re your employees or somehow beholden to your brand. They’re creators who you can build long-lasting relationships with.

A perfect example of this is Samsung’s continuing partnership with YouTube influencer, Casey Neistat. Over the past few years, they have partnered to create several content campaigns, and this all culminated in a big push for the 2017 Super Bowl.

In each of these videos, you can see that Casey clearly cares, and is genuinely excited by, the Samsung products being featured. He’s not just a salesman cashing in a paycheck.

And that is, without a doubt, the most important part of an influencer partnership.

Read this next: Lessons from an influencer: Lisa Hamilton of See Want Shop

Lessons from an influencer: Lisa Hamilton of See Want Shop

Lisa first began her blog as a way to keep in touch with family and friends while overseas, but as she gained more and more followers, her passion turned into a profession, and now she works with some of the biggest brands in the world.

Her clean, minimalist style works just as well for healthy-living and far-off destinations as it does for the latest in fashion, and it’s that travel-inspired mix of lifestyle and fashion that really makes her blog stand out.

And when we say stand out, we mean it: Lisa’s work has even caught the eye of Khloe Kardashian.

While she started See Want Shop as just a hobby, Lisa now boasts over 321,000 Instagram followers, all while still regularly producing photographs and blog content on her website, which now also features an online store.

We chatted to Lisa about how brands and influencers can work together, what lies in store for the future and that time a brand wanted her to dress up as Santa!

Tell us about your background and why you decided to start your Instagram and blog?

I am a qualified physiotherapist and, a few years ago, I moved overseas on a working holiday. I decided to start some social media accounts to share my travels and started to grow a following. It all stemmed from there. It was never a planned career move!

You’ve seen a huge amount of success with a large follower base and brand partnerships. How did you go about doing that, especially at the start?

I was very lucky, as when I started my blog, there weren’t many Melbourne bloggers at the time. I had a good friend of mine who worked in PR, so she introduced me to brands and started inviting me to events where I was able to network.

TGIF ? #LoveScotch

A post shared by Lisa Hamilton (@seewantshop) on

What were your goals for See Want Shop when you first started, and how have those evolved?

I never had goals when I started SWS. It was just a fun hobby, and that is all I ever intended it to be.

The growth and expansion was a very pleasant, but unexpected, surprise. Now that my audience has grown and I have become a full-time blogger, I’ve sat down and set many goals.

One of my main ones this year is to start a YouTube channel.

Would you say there a single piece of content that kicked off your follower growth, or did it happen organically?

No, it happened fairly organically. I have had a couple of growth spurts though.

Firstly, when Khloe Kardashian reposted a photo of mine. Secondly, when quite early on in my blogging career, I was featured on Who What Wear in America. These both attracted a lot of new traffic and followers.

Were there moments when you wanted to give up your blog, and why?

Recently, I have started to become the target for internet trolls, and whilst I have no intention of giving up my blog, I have had friends and family question whether it’s all worth it.

I get where they are coming from, in that they are trying to protect me, but there is nothing that would push me to quit. I am far too committed!

What is the strangest thing a brand has asked you to do? Did you do it?

I once got asked to dress up as Santa and skydive out of an aeroplane! I said no!

Which brand has been your favourite to work with, and why?

I have worked with heaps of amazing brands that I absolutely love including Nike, Cotton On, Holden, Etihad Airways , Revolve and Asos.

Brands that give you creative control and allow you to be true to yourself are my favourite.

What advice would you give to a) brands wanting to work with influencers and b) influencers wanting to work with brands?

For brands wanting to work with influencers, my advice would be to reach out in a meaningful and individual way. Sending bulk emails to bloggers without personalising the content is a big mistake.

For influencers wanting to work with brands, it might be a good idea to start by signing up to one of the many apps or websites that organise collaborations. This can be a great way to get your foot in the door initially.

What is it that makes for a great brand partnership?

It’s important to have a shared outlook: it’s really important that your styles and aesthetic align.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t say yes to everything.

Do you have a dream brand you’d like to work with?

Apple or Canon would be up there!

What are your aspirations for the future?

Hopefully becoming a mummy blogger down the track!

Meet Patrick Stevenson of the Hobo Collective

Recently we chatted with Patrick Stevenson of popular photography collective Hobo and asked him a few questions about his photography career, his role as an influencer and his experiences when collaborating with brands.

Hobo started as online photography hub before the birth of Instagram, with the goal of capturing Sydney’s nightlife and music scene. Since then, the site and its photographers have expanded their content into almost every social media platform available, and now they are known for producing some of the most iconic images Sydneysiders have known in the last few years.

Their Facebook page has garnered almost 10,000 likes, and Patrick’s Instagram page now boasts over 8,000 followers. The Hobo’s website remains their centrepiece, with expansive albums cataloguing music, culture and fashion.

Here’s what Pat had to say about his career so far and his pivotal role showcasing Sydney’s music and nightlife culture.

Tell us about your background and why you decided to start your Instagram and blog?

I have been working as a professional photographer since 2007, when I met the guys at Hobo.

I used to shoot in clubs four nights a week, and we used to party together. I loved all their work, and they eventually brought me on board to shoot Good Vibrations Festival in Sydney. I started working with them more and more after that.

Instagram didn’t exist back then, so we used to share our images via our website www.hobogestapo.com and we also had a tumblr. MySpace was also a big thing back then.

Then, Instagram came along, as well as Vine, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. Instagram is still a great way to share images to mobile users very quickly and easily.

You’ve done a really good job of building your follower base. How did you go about doing that?

We built most of our fan base at the beginning by going out and actually getting amongst all the gigs, events and concerts 4-5 days a week. We were at every single decent party worth attending. It also helped that we were alcoholics and could drink anyone under the table.

What were your goals for Hobo when you first started, and how have those evolved now that your audience has expanded?

Our goals at the beginning were to eventually get paid to take photos. That took a while, but I managed to leave my full-time job at a clothes store in 2009 and I’ve been surviving off photography and DJing ever since then.

We never wanted to make a huge amount of money or to be the best in the game, but we worked and worked and worked and kept trying to innovate and do things differently to everyone else out there.

We were trying to provide a unique product in a market which was getting flooded.  With imagery from smart phones popping up everywhere, we wanted our shots to look unique.

Would you say there was a single piece of content that kicked off your follower growth, or did it happen organically?

Working with lots of Australia’s finest musical artists has given us a great platform to push our work out there. A lot of people may already know our work because a lot of music artists love sharing our photos.

Were there moments when you wanted to give up your blog, and why?

We went through a phase around 4 years ago where Alex (one of the original founders) dropped out of Hobo. He moved to NYC and pursued his own thing over there.

Then Wes left Hobo to do his own thing (Wes was the other original member). Then we lost Andy Vermuelen as he followed a career in coding. Then we lost Thomas Walk, who now does all the photography at Deus Ex Machine.

I am the only photographer who has been around since the beginning. It got pretty tough when they all left, as we had to find our feet again and who we were. We now boast a really strong bunch of guys and girls who are super talented, and I love them all.

Has a brand ever asked you to do something really strange for a collaboration? Did you do it?

We’ve had some really strange brand collabs, and of course we did it to put food on the table.

I remember 5GUM approached us with a weird concept, and we ended up each shooting a different flavour. So, we all shot with different colour themes. It ended up pretty rad.

Which brand has been your favourite to work with, and why?

We did a lot of work with luxury fashion label Hermes. I loved working with them, as it was completely different to everything else we’ve done, and it made me learn to shoot things differently.

What advice would you give to a) brands wanting to work with influencers and b) influencers wanting to work with brands?

Brands: don’t force the influencer to get into a field that’s too far from the artist’s core vibe. It will just end weirdly.

Influencers: know your aesthetic, keep working away at it and you will eventually get noticed.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Be super critical of your own work, go over it and over it again. Then when you think you’re happy with it, walk away then come back to it with fresh eyes.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link, and you’re always judged by your worst work.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To keep on working on my art, to get better at responding to emails more quickly.

To not get distracted by playing video games, to do my tax from 2 years ago.

To be a better human and lover.

To call my mum more often.

All images by Pat Stevenson of Hobo.

Why your brand should be using influencers

So far, we’ve shown you the ins and outs of how your brand or product can get the most out of influencer marketing. The key is not to force a partnership where there shouldn’t be one, but rather to build a friendship over common ground.

But now that you know the how, it’s time to take a look at the why. What is it about influencer marketing that is so valuable to brands of all sizes?

Reach an engaged audience

By partnering with an influencer whose content and audience align with your brand or product, you’re taking a great step towards reaching a large group of people who are far more likely to be interested than people in say, a less targeted awareness ad campaign.

Influencer’s audiences are usually passionate about that influencer’s content, way of life and advice. So, by creating a partnership over shared values with an influencer, you’re creating a much deeper connection with your brand than anything a standard ad could achieve.

Create trust in your brand

Once you’ve established a connection with an influencer’s audience, maintaining that relationship can do wonders for your brand image.

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from someone they know and 70% trust online consumer opinions. By building a partnership with an influencer, you’re ensuring that your brand is held to that high standard of trust and accessibility.

After all, that same Nielsen study says that creating branded content without an influencer to back it can have trust as low as 58%.

Influencers drive far more engagement

This lack of faith in brands is corroborated by a separate study, which found that while brands are focussing more on creating content, in-house branded content has experienced a recent drop in engagement.

Meanwhile, influencer audiences are a passionate bunch, resulting in strong engagement rates on an everyday basis. So by cultivating a relationship with these audiences, you’re making sure that their high engagement will be reflected in your results.

Decrease your work load

While creating and maintaining a partnership with an influencer certainly can be hard work, a key benefit of said partnership is that a content creator is regularly making content for and about your brand.

In effect, this avoids you having to spend as much time and resources on building new content. By involving an influencer in your content strategy, you add their ability to craft new ideas, seed content on their social platforms and maintain a relationship with their committed audience.  It also brings a fresh voice to your content.

An effective working partnership with an influencer means getting an inside track on some of the more hands-on aspects of content marketing, and this leads to higher efficiency campaigns for your brand.

Boost your searchability

As many search professionals will know, one of the keys to SEO success is links. Internal links, external links, social links – links everywhere. The more URLs which are pointing back to your site, the more likely it is that your brand will appear when searched.

25% of search results actually come from user generated social posts. So, not only does a partnership with an influencer provide you with more links back to your site, getting them to talk about your content on social media provides that additional 25% boost in subsequent search results.

Creating a connection with an influencer and their audience isn’t just a “nice to have” for a brand. As faith in corporations continues to wane, these connections offer a direct relationship with audiences in a way that is both more likely to result in future action, but also builds trust in a way that simply isn’t possible with most other standard advertising methods.

 

Influential Influencer: Casey Neistat

Many brands start small. Even the mighty McDonald’s was founded by failed film-making cinema-owners.

But not many can claim to have started smaller than YouTube content creator, Casey Neistat. At the age of just fifteen, Casey ran away from home, dropped out of high school and found himself living in a trailer park with a baby on the way. His work as a dishwasher barely paid the bills, and prospects for the future looked bleak.

Now, with over 5.5 million subscribers on the video platform and 1.8 million followers on Instagram, Casey is conquering visual media in the digital space.

Casey began film-making in his free time, with his first major YouTube success coming with his video expose on bike-lane obstruction in the city. This first success was followed up shortly thereafter with a piece of sponsored content for Nike for their #MakeItCount campaign. That video now has over 22 million views. Check it out below:

Since then, Casey has begun posting regular daily videos on YouTube which tend to receive between 1 and 2 million views.

His videos are honest, kinetic and beautiful. He turned the YouTube practice of ‘vlogging’ on its head by adding a cinematographic quality that many others on the platform are lacking. It’s that unique film-making style that draws in the crowds.

And that is what makes him not just an influencer, but a trusted brand in his own right. It’s why Emirates Airline recently gave him a free upgrade to first-class, and why his video of that event, though not directly sponsored, did wonders for the airline, with over 25 million views.

So, though companies have used Casey to promote their films or their products, his followers and fans trust him so much that it’s almost certainly better to take the Emirates approach: send him a great product or offer him a cool experience, and his infectious child-like joy on camera will do the rest.

Casey’s management of his personal brand also offers a lesson in content strategy, as his daily videos can very much be used as an instruction manual for how brands should approach content: be available to your audience, provide high-quality content and, most importantly, be yourself. Your audience will love you for it.

How one man turned the news into a YouTube empire

Gone are the days when families would huddle around their television for the regular nightly broadcast, or pay yearly subscriptions for their indispensable Sunday papers. One man has turned his unique spin on the news into a successful Youtube channel. Continue reading “How one man turned the news into a YouTube empire”

Inspirational Influencer: YouTube Sensation Lilly Singh

Lilly Singh is a perfect example and advocate for the power of digital media and video. Just named one of the Adweek 20 best content creators, she is more commonly known on Youtube as IISuperwomanII. Her collective videos have 1.3 billion views, and she collaborates with various brands including Coca Cola, and makeup brand Smashbox, to promote their products.

With 4.3 million followers on her Instagram account and a book titled How To Be A Bawse about to be released, Singh’s using a combined power of visual and written content to keep her hungry fans satisfied.

According to Wikipedia, The twenty-seven-year-old Canadian YouTube personality was raised in Toronto, but her parents are from Punjab, India. She began making YouTube videos in 2010 as a way to deal with her depression.  Her website keeps her content up-to-date, and along with Instagram and YouTube, she’s active on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Here’s her most famous video with 20 million views, “How Girls Get Ready”. A pretty silly video, however it is cleverly compiled and instantly relatable:

Here’s one of her “Share A Coke” ads, which has a natural feel, (and gives us the warm fuzzies):

As brands big and small seek innovative ways to promote their content, it’s inspiring to see content marketing help artists like Lilly, who are using social platforms naturally and artistically to rise to stardom. Singh is being rewarded for her undoubtable comedic and creative appeal while simultaneously promoting brand awareness, which is a win-win situation in our book.

According to Singh, “Gone are the days of testing this platform. That is so 2013. YouTube is proven, and the audience is here.”

Singh can teach brands a valuable lesson: rather than think about what other brands or Youtube stars were doing, she just tried to be herself and capture the essence of what is relatable and current. She listens to her audience and gives them what they want, rather than trying to sell them something that they aren’t interested in. The end result is that her collaborations seamlessly integrate into her content.

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