Thanks to the Kardashians and other celebrities, Influencer Marketing is a hot topic in the marketing world.
In short, Influencer Marketing is a form of marketing via social media which utilises social media influencers – largely on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook – to promote a product or service to their own established audience. The influencer is, in a sense, an ambassador for a company, product, organization or service. You could say it’s the modern form of testimonial advertising.
Our resident ‘influencer’ (who admittedly cringes when she is called that) Kim-Ling, sat down with one of her full-time influencer friends, Sonya from @theglobalite, to talk about life as an influencer, the intricacies of influencer marketing and how businesses can best work with this sector.
What are some of the biggest or most memorable campaigns you’ve worked on?
Some highlights have been working with BMW, Four Seasons, L’Occitane, Skyscanner, Intercontinental and recently, Appelles Skincare.
A lot of influencer marketing is around products and tourism, but do you think there is a place for influencer marketing with non-products, i.e. professional services?
Yes, there is a place for influencer marketing for services, however you need to find the right influencer. I see more and more services adopting influencer marketing, and I’ve done some non-product campaigns in the past. I recently saw a company use influencer marketing to educate people on identity theft and cyber security, so there is definitely an opportunity to use influencer marketing as part of the marketing strategy, especially with the power of videos, blogs, etc.
What are your favourite tools?
In terms of phone apps to edit images on the go, ones we both like are Lightroom, VSCO, Snapseed and Canva. Unfold and HypeText are also great apps to create Instagram Stories. Neither of us use any scheduling or engagement tools that use bots to generate likes and comments.
How do you set your pricing structure and incentives/inclusions? Is it a matter of job-to-job negotiation?
It’s true there is no set fee or industry standard, however at least in the US, a rough guide is $5-$10 for every 1000 followers. But there are so many variables when setting a fee – i.e. how many social media platforms does the influencer use regularly? What is their average engagement rate? What is the market value of what is being offered and how much time is involved in delivering the campaign? Is there personal value with the product or service? At the end of the day, the influencer’s time is worth something, so it should be valued. It takes time to create something and build a community of engaged followers, so the incentives to do a campaign need to be worth that time. It’s like any professional service.
Do you take on jobs without being paid on top of the provided product/service? And if so, what is the reasoning behind it?
Yes I have, especially when I was starting out and still growing my following. I’ve also taken on unpaid opportunities if I am changing my creative direction or have a brand I really want to work with. I’ve also done unpaid work if it’s a good networking relationship and will result in further opportunities.
How do you find work? And how do brands find you?
I am often contacted directly from brands, who have found me online. Otherwise it’s through networking and relationships. There are also platforms Influencers and companies can sign up for to find the right match.
How many hours a day are you ‘working’ or on social media?
It varies, but probably 8+ hours a day, and more if I’m travelling and in the middle of a campaign.
Apart from Instagram, do other channels still matter?
Definitely. People are always looking for alternatives to Instagram. The smart thing to do is be on everything, but acknowledge that the audience will be different depending on the channel. Tik Tok is becoming huge and YouTube Creator is going to be more powerful in the future.
What content works?
Content that is relevant to the theme and aesthetic. As an Influencer, we are always identifying a theme, look or niche and then we try to stick to it. There is a difference between a professional Instagrammer (or influencer) and regular Instagram user. In terms of content generally, you need to know your audience and what will speak to them.
How do you grow your following and engagement?
It’s hard as it’s changed over the past four years. My account grew from day one, but then it has changed and slowed down. Consistency is key and sticking to your brand theme. You need to spend time engaging with your audience and beyond. It is a two-way street. You need to like, comment and follow as much as you want in return, and this takes time and effort.
What were key moments that defined you and your career?
When one of my photos got reposted by a large, popular travel account, I got a jump in followers and it made me feel part of the community. Another pivotal moment was when I started doing collaborations with brands and companies, but that wasn’t until I had 60,000 followers.
As a full-time influencer, do you have other jobs to supplement this?
Influencer marketing isn’t easy, and the income comes and goes. It’s important to have multiple income sources and work at building up your portfolio and relationships. Another way to earn money is to try to work with multiple companies as part of one campaign so you have multiple income sources from the same campaign.
Do you imagine doing this long term? Do you think the nature of the business/work will change over the coming years?
Influencer marketing IS marketing, so it’s not going anywhere, but it will evolve and probably look different in the future. The metrics will get better and some will disappear. I think the audience will shape the future.
How do you work out the return of investment? What do you normally provide?
It varies for each company and campaign. Some will ask for screenshots of metrics, others might have an affiliate code or trackable URL that we include in the campaign content. And other companies might be more after awareness and professional images as part of the deliverables.
How often do you turn down stuff?
I have turned down jobs in the past if I didn’t believe the campaign was aligned with my brand. I have also turned down opportunities if the company comes across as inexperienced or unclear about their expectations, or if they have a bad reputation amongst other Influencers.
Do you have advice for companies who want to do influencer marketing?
Yes, between us, I think we’ve got lots of advice:
- Try to be personal enough (often, emails come across as ‘spammy’) and express why you want to work with the influencer (and why they might want to work with you.)
- Detail EXACTLY what you are willing to offer – be specific. The worst companies are the ones that are fishing to collaborate, but not specify what they want or are willing to pay/give. This creates a lot of back and forth and time wasting.
- There should be no surprises in compensation and deliverables. If you want a number of posts within a timeframe, say that upfront. If you want metrics, ask for them before the campaign has commenced, not after it has ended.
- Timelines are really important, especially when working with a full-time influencer. Often they are doing back-to-back campaigns and travelling, so if a product needs to be sent and received, it needs to arrive before they’ve left the country. If the marketing activities need to also occur at a certain time, this needs to be stated, as it will determine if the influencer can take on the work around existing contracts and campaigns.
- Be careful not to micromanage. At the end of the day, you are hiring the influencer to create content in their style that will speak to their audience, so placing restrictions and specifics about the content will only stress the relationship. Give the influencer flexibility around the content and trust who you are working with.
- Do your research. Don’t just choose an influencer based on their following, but make sure their content and audience is aligned with your brand. Ask, who are they and what do they stand for, and does it work with your company?
- Be forthcoming with expectations, and if you don’t want to be on the same campaign with other companies (as influencers will often combine brands, products and services in the one campaign), tell them.
- If you want high quality, be prepared to pay for it and work with an influencer you can build a good relationship with.
- Ideally, you should find an influencer who is/will be a genuine ambassador, so think long term, beyond the campaign. You want a more powerful conversation than just a sponsored post. You want someone who will speak about your products in a certain way and in an authentic way and understand why your brand/product/service is important.
So, there you have it folks, some insights into influencer marketing from two real-life influencers. At the end of the day, influencer marketing can be as large or as small as your imagination (and budget) allows, but creating authentic relationships is key. If you want to learn more about influencer marketing, or bounce some ideas off us, get in touch.