Influencer marketing has changed and evolved a lot during recent years. It’s more focused on experts and influencers in particular areas. So if you wonder if your company needs influencer marketing, the answer is yes. Now check out why it is so crucial.
Originally from Prague, Czech Republic, Michaela works for California based Startup called Nimble. She is responsible for all their social media activities and blog content. She also manages their media and influencer relations.
Magda: Hello Michaela, I’m very happy having you here. For a start, please tell us what influential marketing is and why it has become crucial nowadays.
Michaela: I think influencer is anyone who has a large and engaged audience. Influence marketing is a form of marketing that brands use to leverage the existing networks of the people with influence. It’s kind of similar to celebrity endorsement, with the exception that celebrities that are endorsing certain products, like Britney Spears endorsing Pepsi, don’t necessarily need to be a subject matter expert. On contrary, influencers usually are experts in their field and they’re respected for that. Therefore, brands seek these influencers to help them amplify their message and ultimately help them sell their products.
Magda: Why has it become so crucial nowadays?
Michaela: I believe it has something to do with the switch from traditional forms of marketing and advertising. It’s a shift to online marketing and the way that we, as buyers, do our research. We started leverage in social media and doing our research ther3e before we buy a product. We started going on Facebook and asking our friends and our family members about the product they use. We kind of stopped trusting advertisement and brands pushing their marketing message. We have just more trust into people that we respect. Another reason why brands seek influencer and want to hire them to help them sell their products is that it actually became much harder to leverage the communities that they have built over the time, like on Facebook. You spend all this time building the community, but if you have 5,000 followers on Facebook or people who have liked your Facebook page and you send a message of, it doesn’t mean that all these people are going to see the message as Facebook now wants you to pay them for being able to reach large audience. I definitely think it had some sort of impact on the growth of influence marketing. An example that came to my mind are all these mummy bloggers. They are just everyday women who started blogging or creating YouTube videos about products they use and because they’re personable and we like them because they’re like us, we respect their opinion. So I think it’s a good example. And these bloggers and youtubers tend to have very large audience. So they’re really good target for press because they can pay them to use a product depending whether it’s a man or a woman.
Magda: I think it’s a good point that the experts and influencers are like us that’s why we believe them. But just to be clear, what’s the difference between a word-of-mouth marketing and influence marketing?
Michaela: That’s a good question. Influence marketing focuses on key leaders in certain industry to recommend a certain brand. Many time it is done through word-of-mouth, but not all word-of –mouth marketing is done by influencers. It’s many times done just by a friend, family members or just clients or clients that enjoy our brand. They go on social media and say they’re using a product and think it’s awesome. This is a word-of-mouth marketing, but the person promoting the product doesn’t need to be an influencer, doesn’t have to have a large following on twitter or Facebook. I think brands should actually focus on both. Aiming the right influencers that could help with amplifying the message, but also focus on their loyal and happy customers and engage with them, encourage them to spread the word and show them out on social medial.
Magda: We should, as you said, focus on both. As you said, it’s very efficient. However, is it possible for a low budget company to go for an influence marketing?
Michaela: Absolutely! You don’t necessarily have to pay the influencers to endorse you. You can work something out with them. If you’re a smaller brand that doesn’t have the budget to pay a major influencer you can find influencer that are not so big, maybe you can help them too, in other ways. Maybe they’re a blogger that would like to expand to another market, maybe you know an editor you can introduce them to and they can expand their blogs and reach different audience and become even bigger. You can give them your product for free or promote them to your community or introduce them to somebody else in the industry who can help them advance their career. Or you can figure some kind of commission with them. So I think everybody can do it. If you don’t have a big budget, you just have to get a little creative.
Magda: That’s great news for all companies are listening to it. Let’s talk about a bit. How do you identify experts?
Michaela: There are certain tools that you can use. Some of the tools that I have used are Clear and BuzzSumo. We also use our own product, Nimble, which I use mostly for identifying these influencers and fishing them out of the social river. To do that I use a browser extension that actually allows me to hover over anybody, anyone on the internet. Most of the time I use it in social media, like Twitter. When I come across somebody who I think might be a good fit, I hover over it and it will come up and give me a life profile about the person, giving me a bit more information about how many followers they are, where they’re from, what they usually talk about. Then, if I find them as a good fit and maybe it’s somebody I want to reach out to, I can add them to our database and do the outreach later. One thing that I’d like to talk about is that, when we were talking about how to do this on a budget, I think everybody can do it without even having to pay for fancy tools. You can do this manually, you can seek out hashtags and keywords that are relevant to you and then do manual search in twitter, Facebook and start reading the discussion, seeing what the questions are that people are asking and who are these people that are responding to these questions, who are the people giving advice. This is how you can actually find those influencers without having to use an actual tool. You can also go and visit Facebook groups or linked in groups, twitter chats or just hang out on different forms on the internet.
Magda: We could definitely say that finding influencers requires having a strategy or tactics. What other skills are needed to become a successful influencer marketing, excluding the tools.
Michaela: In my opinion, what’s really important is to approach it as a relationship. You might have heard about Bryan Kramer who wrote a book called ‘There is no B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human #H2H’. He brings up a very interesting point, namely even if you’re in a business to business industry, what it comes down to that it’s a person interacting with another person. So I think when you’re doing an outreach to an influencer, there’s a certain level tag that is required. You have to be very clear about what’s in it for the other person. You have to make sure that if you’re able to pay the person then make it clear that they’re going to get renders for their services. Alternatively, if you can’t pay them then make sure that you really listen to what their needs are and try to find something that you can help them with.
Magda: Let’s now talk about different industries for a second. Do you think influencer marketing is for all kinds of companies and industries?
Michaela: I’m sure that there are some industries and companies that influencer marketing is not a good fit for. Still, I have personally seen brands using influencers in a beauty industry, in health and food industry, make-up industry, same as sales, marketing and other software as a service. I think most companies can leverage the influencer marketing, but I’m sure that there are some industries that it’s not the best fit for.
Magda: Do you have any specific industries on mind or you just a general idea?
Michaela: I can’t really think of any industry that wouldn’t be a good fit for this moment.
Magda: How does the process of conducting experts look like?
Michaela: Once you identify the people that you want to reach out to, I think it’s important to do your research and really figure out if it’s a good fit and if you’re a good fit for them. Identify what they’re passionate about and what is what they do about. Just make sure that it’s a good fit for both of you. I would suggest to just start it slowly, especially if you’re a small brand and you won’t be able to pay the influencer for working with you. I think with most influencers these days, they produce some kind of content, either in a form of blog post or a YouTube channel. I think it’s important to start slowly and get interested in what they do, maybe even start commenting on their content or sharing it on your social media. Really try to show them that you have done the work and research what they’re about and that you care. Make it genuine, not just some copy and paste or just sharing without adding any value to it. It would be good to explain your community what it is that you’re sharing what you’re sharing. This way, it will send the right message off to the influencer and he or she will probably reach out too and at least thank you for sharing that. This could be a great conversation starter about a future cooperation.
Magda: So you’re saying we should personalize our messages to influencers.
Michaela: Definitely. Always!
Magda: There’s no doubt to that. Which aspect of it is the most challenging, in your opinion?
Michaela: I would say that the standing from the crowd aspect. There’s so many brands these days that are focused on influencer marketing that there’s only so many influencers. You want to let them know that you’re the brand that they should be working with. I think making good impression is crucial. You have to let them know what’s in it for them and that it’s going to be beneficial for them. Make them sure that this relationship they’re about to start is going to be mutually beneficial. Once you agree on what it is that’s in it for them, you have to be sure that you act on it as it could also go wrong. When you reach out to somebody with the intention to work with them and the intention to get a good press out of it, if you don’t act on your promises you can make them really mad and the last thing you want is to turn them into bad press for you.
Magda: That brings to my mind another question to ask. Have you ever had a situation when you wrote an email to an influencer and the moment you sent it you knew that it wasn’t good enough and isn’t going to work? Is it possible to get a second chance or maybe another way of dealing with that?
Michaela: You know, relationships are tricky and you have to be very careful. What comes to mind is me hidden send on a group email and knowing that maybe the way it was written will show and the recipient will know that it wasn’t a one to one communication but a blast. I’ve done that and as I was hidden send, I thought to myself that I should have read it again and make some adjustments. I was actually called out on that too. When I got a response from the first person, he pointed out that the message wasn’t going just to him. That was a little embarrassing.
Magda: I can definitely relate to that. Let’s talk about something more positive. Maybe you could share some successful stories based on your own experience.
Michaela: What comes to mind has happened just recently, an influencer that we have been working on for a while and we’ve done several seminars with her. She was speaking at a major conference, Hotspots Inbound, and without even telling us she included our product in her presentation. It was a very pleasant surprise when we had people in the audience taken pictures of her presentations, tagging our brand in it and sending it out. That was really nice! We’ve been working with some big influencers in social media and marketing field. It’s always nice to see a blog coming out of somebody that is really respected in a sphere. Of course the best way that it can happen is when we find out that these influencers are actually using their product themselves on a daily basis and are really happy with it. That’s probably the best that can happen at the end.
Magda: Which tools would you recommend to us that you use on a daily or weekly basis?
Michaela: One of the tools I use on daily basis is Hootsuite, which I use for social listening. For distributing content across social media, I use Buffer. Another tool I use daily is a plugin for WordPress, called CoSchedule, that helps with scheduling our blog posts and social message that need to be sent out. There’s another tool that I really love and recommend, called Edgar. Edgar allows you to re-share and evergreen content or your own blog post all the time. You have the ability to create these groups of contents and it just grabs it from the top, goes to the bottom and tweets it over time. I also use Canva for creating beautiful images I can use in social media. For influencer research and prospecting on social media, I use Nimble. I use our browser extension that I was mentioning earlier that allows me to hover over a certain media or company on social. It gives me a little more information on a person or a company and then allows me to output it in my database. One more tool that we use on a daily basis is called Intercom. That allows us to see the usage of our product or customers.
Magda: As for Nimble, I also use it on a daily basis. I truly like this tool and I find it extremely useful for my work. Thank you very much for your time, Michaela. What you’ve shared with us is very useful and interesting!
Michaela: Thank you for having me Magda, have a great day!