What Is Influencer Marketing?

What you have to understand about influencer marketing is that it isn’t just the marketing; it’s like getting an expert or your best friend to speak on your behalf. People that have a large audience that is targeted, such as camera owners for people who want to own cameras, to do the talking for you.

How Do You Find Your Target Audience?

If you don’t know your target audience right now, even if you start influencer marketing, you should know the target customer and you should do more analysis on who you’re really selling to. You have to know who these people are and you have to be able to find people that influence those people.

What Channels Should I Focus On?

My favorite channel is YouTube because it’s video and because they really do a great job of organic reach on YouTube. Twitter is very difficult; I would only use it to promote what I’ve done on other channels. Facebook is organically not very good with targeting.

Where Are Your Customers?

So when you look at what channels to start on, I’d ask you what channel are your customers on. Most of them are on Facebook, and most of them are watching videos on YouTube. If you subscribe to a YouTuber, you’re going to get an email, or your subscriber is going to get an email, saying, “Hey, there’s a new video out there.” That doesn’t happen with Twitter. Also, YouTube is the second largest search engine and Google is the first, and if it’s on Google, you’re going to see a Google YouTube video before you see any kind of tweet on that subject.

What Kind of Content Should I Produce?

I wouldn’t as a brand rely on creating my own content; I’d get an influencer to create the content. They’ve already proven that they can create content that resonates with your target audience. You want final rights, and you want to let them have as much creative freedom as they possibly can have with you or your brand. You’ve got to be careful that if it doesn’t come across as authentic, it’s not going to resonate with their target audience and you might ultimately lose on this one.

How Do You Guide Your Influencer?

Give them all the creative freedom that they want, but you also want to guide them. For example, our influencer was a BMX biker in New York City, and our client was a cable company. We had to think, “How are we going to match cable with a BMX biker?” Well, it turned out that the client had the fastest Internet connection in New York City, so we let the biker develop a video with two of his buddies where these BMXers would race taxi cabs, and they’d race the subway, and they’d always win because they were the fastest. That was their idea. They were doing some wild crazy jumps and moving all over the city, and their target demo was the exact same target demo as the cable company: gamers or people who watched a lot of video—millennials. So it was a perfect marriage between their audience and the cable company’s audience, while also allowing the influencer do what they wanted to do in order to drive home that point.

How Do I Court Influencers?

Let’s focus on B to C first. Unless they’re an up-and-comer and they absolutely love your product, you’re going to have to pay them. So be prepared to pay, and there are different pay rates depending on what they offer. With YouTube, for example, you should aim for around 10 cents per view, but even that adjusts depending on what industry you’re in and what kind of engagement they have.

It’s a lot different with B to B marketing. Most of the time you’re not going to pay them. Most of the time you’re going to go to them with a proposition: “Hey, I’m creating a video series,” or “I’m creating an ebook.” The long form version of this is: “I’m creating content and I want you to participate. Our distribution will be 25,000 people on our email list or on our YouTube channel. Combined, our distribution holds 25,000 influencers who will be participating in this. Do you want to participate? Maybe it will be covered by Forbes (or whatever PR you have in place).” You’re really convincing them to collaborate on a project where they benefit just as much as you do.

How Do You Target Consumers?

I can fill a stadium full of people—ten stadiums full of people—who like PewDiePie, who has 15 million followers on YouTube, and they will listen to him. As long as they have an audience that’s engaging with comments on everything they do, all you have to do is rely on them to move the needle. If you find something that they created that resonates with you, then take a little ad spend on Facebook or on Google and promote the living daylights out of it. Since the relevant score is high on Facebook and the equivalent on Google is good, you’re going to be paying one or two cents per view because the content is so good. So if this influencer’s content resonates with your target audience, then definitely spending some money behind it will be far cheaper than any ad you could run to the same audience.

How Long Do You Stick with a Campaign?

Our big approach this year is what we call “episodic content.” So that means, “I don’t want you to do one project with us; I want you to do eight. Here’s a theme. Every episode is different, but it has to stay within the theme.” For example, we represent the largest barbecue influencer on YouTube, and we’re matching them with chicken brands and sausage brands and charcoal brands. We’ve lined up eight or nine of them, so that we maintain that relationship over time. I don’t see most influencer marketers do this. You spend a lot of time getting these people to do one thing for you when they’ll gladly do ten, especially if it’s worth their while, especially if they’re being paid.

On B to B, you’ve just got to create the series and say, “Once a month this is what we’re going to do. Here’s the calendar going forward, here’s how we’re going to promote you and here’s how we see you benefiting.” You want to weave in some kind of call to action to any type of promotion that you’re doing. If you’re not doing that, you’re wasting your time. Awareness is fine, but over the long haul you’ve got to aligned  your efforts with influencers, or you should stop doing it.

How Should the Brand Interact with the Influencer’s Audience?

The influencer should naturally be interacting with their audience. Some people get so many comments that it’s impossible, but if the brand sees an opportunity to add to the discussion, not just sell into the discussion, we recommend the brand go in there. Typically, if they’re working with us, we go and do it on their behalf, because we know how to lead with what people are going to like in an educational or entertaining way. Just don’t go in there with a mind-set of selling; go in with a mind-set of educating or entertaining. So I’d say, yes, participate in that discussion.

How Do You Stand Out?

The easiest way to stand out is to pay for it, which is not very expensive on YouTube.  People don’t realize that, and I don’t really promote that fact because it makes it more expensive for me if you’re competing with me. You could do preroll ads in front of your competitors and those pre-roll ads could just be your video. If you create a video and you spend money—not a whole lot, a couple of cents, and you only get charged if they watch 30 seconds of it—why not put that in front of your competitors’ videos each and every time? I would. Now they could block you, but most don’t know how—they’re not that sophisticated— but you can also be on the right-hand side, on the “suggested videos.” So there are many ways to troll your competitors on YouTube that I’d say 99.99 percent of people don’t even realize you can do.

How Do You Measure Success?

Google is a great way to measure success. It depends on what you’re doing, of course, but there are tools out there, like Simply Measured; there’s Keyhole, which we like; there are all sorts of tools that will measure from a universal perspective, especially if you’re using hashtags. Let’s take the YouTube examples.  You know how many views you have, you know how many comments, you know what the engagement rate is, and you know how long they watched the video. So put tracking links in the video and in the description, and on mobile you do a call-to-action overlay, right over the video—it’s free.

So just be very careful out there. Work with experts who have proven to do it right. Get their case studies and testimonials, and look for coverage of these campaigns, to prove that they know what they’re doing, and if you want to bring this in-house—and I think most people should, and grow their advertising team—hire experts to do it for you. You don’t have to go with us, but bring in the experts if this is going to be a long-term success.