“This is a #Sponsored Post”: How Brands Can Benefit from Social Media Influencers with Product Placement
Recently, I went on vacation to Spain. While I sipped on sangria and soaked up the sights in Madrid and Ibiza, I also used this trip as an opportunity to show brands the best ways to use an influencer. Influencers are always looking for ways to leverage their status as an influencer because, let’s be real, the hustle never ends, fam.
If you’re like me, you probably love to travel but hate the price tag that comes with jetting off to distant lands in search of new adventures. One easy way to lower the costs associated with being a world-class traveler is to identify budding brands looking for influencers to showcase their products or services. Know the #sponsored and #ad tags that you see on some Instagram accounts? These hashtags indicate that the post you’re seeing features a product placement. In other words, the person who posted the picture you’re seeing was paid to post on Instagram (or Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.).
It may seem intimidating to contact an influencers to ask them to post your product but this is par for the course in today’s social media marketing landscape. In fact, what you’re doing is offering them to be a brand ambassador for the company. This means they get paid — in cash money or clothes, beauty products, supplements, flights, etc. — to promote your goods on the ‘gram. The great thing about this type of marketing is that “it steers clear of blatant promotions. Brand ambassadors never push their followers to buy products; instead, they lead people to a lifestyle page or blog post to gently introduce their tribe to the advertiser’s message or brand.” These are the words of Robert Mandelberg, author of Product Placement Has Come to Social Media, which is a great read with a more in-depth explanation of how product placement works.
But before you start offering your products to a brand ambassador, make sure the influencers have a stellar social media presence and a decent following among the target audiences for your products or services that you want them to sponsor. By curating content that reflects your unique brand and posting polished images with a common theme, they will set your product apart from the crowd and be able to cultivate a large, authentic following on your various social media accounts. Brands should go beyond simply posting pictures or status updates and meaningfully engage with your followers. Brands do not just focus on followers look at the influencer’s engagement because remember people can still purchase followers. Once you’ve established this solid foundation, you’ll be able to find the perfect influencer for your brand.
In the lead up to my vacation in Spain, I was able to leverage my influencer status in order to get free gear for the trip. For example, I knew I needed more t-shirts, so I reached out to companies that caught my eye on Instagram in the past. Fly Dope, a clothing company based in the South, gave me a couple of cool t-shirts that were designed to keep travelers fresh while in flight. That’s just one of the many perks that come with being a sponsored brand ambassador!
The internet has long been a marketplace for goods, but social media and apps are increasingly playing a bigger role in the path-to-purchase. You can easily order tonight’s dinner and the latest Walking Dead episode with the click of a mouse, or a few taps on your smartphone. According to The Pew Research Center, over 70% of Americans buy products online and 51% of those purchases are made using a smartphone. As smartphones become all the more affordable, it’s more important now than ever to leverage this new technology to reap in greater profits. Most major retailers realized this early on, and have created their own, customized apps to make it easier for you to spend your dollars online. For the shopaholics among us, this is a tempting proposition. How could you not buy those overly-priced shoes for next week’s kickback when you have the entire store’s inventory at your disposal on your phone?
But businesses are doing more than building apps that show us the goods. They’re also using apps to shape the in-store experience, empower customers throughout the purchasing process, and offering new and dynamic ways to engage with both current and prospective customers. For instance, let’s say you were looking to a buy a new BBQ grill. You searched on Google, Amazon, and Home Depot but couldn’t find one that fit your needs. Then you log onto Facebook to check out what your friends have been up to. Suddenly, you see an advertisement for the same grills that popped up on your Google search. You might say to yourself, “What the hell? Big Brother is watching my every move.” But it you’re like me, you know it’s not Big Brother but rather a savvy marketing algorithm mean to match users with products they’re more likely to buy based on their keyword searches and demographic features.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Millennials spend an average of 18 hours a day scrolling, liking, tapping and watching videos online. Basically, if we’re not sleeping, chances are we’re on some online platform, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. Because of this influx in usage, social media marketing has become very competitive, expensive, and even more important than before. In the past, small businesses and startups could leverage social media for cost effective digital marketing. But now big businesses like Nike, Domino’s and Dove are using social media to tap into the Millennial market. And they’re crushing it when it comes to generating viral content.
So, how can small businesses compete?
Digital content has to be engaging to capture new audiences and used strategically to keep them engaged. For small brands to compete with big dogs like those listed above, it’s important to tap into and showcase your company’s unique value proposition. Here are a few suggestions on how you can do this:
Post Daily Content – Posting new and interesting content on a day to day basis is hard to do when you’re trying to work on your business. My suggestion is planning ahead to schedule the release of content that speaks to the core values of your brand. Set clear goals on what you want to achieve and lay out a strategy for how you will accomplish these goals. This should involve mapping out a content calendar that incorporates a variety of multimedia sources, including photos, videos, slideshows, articles and even a call to action.
Use Influencer Marketing – Influencer marketing focuses on leveraging the fame and following of people who are popular on social media to drive your brand’s message to a larger market. Rather than marketing directly to consumers, you can use influencers to serve as ambassadors for your brand. Provide them with your product and create loose guidelines about how they can showcase it on social media. The key is to let influencers get creative with sharing your product with their followers rather than telling them what you want them to do or say about your product. You can identify the right influencers for your brand by doing a bit of research of their online presence. One way to identify influencers is by thinking about whose voice your trust and then comparing their followers with your brand’s core demographic. Once you’ve identify an influencer “hit list,” create a marketing campaign that is directed at these influencers. When you get one (or more) on board with your brand, create a second marketing campaign that allows your influencers to drive greater awareness among their followers. Track key metrics relating to reach, sales and brand awareness to make sure your influencers are effectively promoting your brand.
Targeted Campaigns – Set a call to action that drives your customers to purchase or engage with your brand. To make sure this call to action is effective, make sure you identify your target audience and their spending trends. You can use coupons, discount codes, dynamic landing pages, host events, and organizing giveaways are just some of the many ways you can attract new customers to your brand.
Joe Luckett #MillennialState
With a network of over 400 million users, Instagram has been a brand marketer’s dream, offering limitless opportunities for sponsorship and digital influencer partnerships. The rise in marketing investment via Instagram prompted many Insta-users with aspirations of greatness to purchase engagement software— also known as ‘bots’ — to artificially inflate their reach, engagement and boost their appeal to prospective customers. It’s been widely known that most social media managers have in the past purchased software at one point or another to cultivate a sense of popularity as well as create the illusion of client engagement. These infamous bots would write things like: “this is dope,” “nice photo,” and “cool,” beneath photos of users, leaving many feeling mystified (“Who the hell is Rachy89? AND why is she sending me the fire emoji”) and/or slightly flattered (“Well, I do take great pictures!”). Many times the community manager or social media manager would incorrectly set up the parameters for the bot, thus causing them to get a bit trigger happy and go on liking sprees — haphazardly liking pictures on a user’s Instagram feed from the last three weeks…or even the last three months! Notice I said incorrectly, as a social media manager you have to know how to properly use the software as well as understand that it is a way to get a lead aka a follower aka a customer.
YES A LEAD…LIKE A SALES LEAD…EXACTLY.
The software is used to spark a conversation with a REAL user and you as the community manager are to engage with the lead. However, many users of the software were not responding to the comments or likes. Many Instagram users assumed the comments came from a fake account (although the account was real) and possibly reported it as abuse. In contrast let’s think on a BIGGER scale, Instagram is a business and they too need leads that turn into dollars. Instagram wants your money to go to them not a software developer. Think about it, Instagram said if they are spending $10-$30 a month on a software, then they can spend that on advertisement. BOOOOOMMM there is it is…
Instagram finally caught on to what the researchers — and Drake — have been saying for ages: it’s time to get rid of all the “fake love” on social media! Instagram has announced that it will no longer allow bots on its platform and shutdown Instegress.
So, if you’re a social media marketer, you’re going to have to cultivate a following the old-fashioned way: through organic engagement. Here are my top tips for building an audience and keeping them interested in your product or service:
Use Instagram ads. You can create ads through the Facebook Ad Manager, which lets you tailor marketing outreach to match the demographics of your client base. Facebook Ad Manager lets you promote your ad on Facebook and Instagram, although you are not forced to use both.
Post original content. Now more than ever before, original video and photo content is in demand (making it hard to keep up!). Get yourself a good quality camera (I just purchased the sony a6000) and take photos that match your brand not just because they look good. Your page has to be attractive to your audience.
Engage with friends. Have your friends share your post and find a NEW friend. Find an influencer in your area and have them share your content. This will help your credibility and makes it easier for your audience to find you.
Engage with competitors. – Be nosey. Take a look at your competition’s platforms. Become a student and research and engage with their following. See what they are doing and do it better! Ask yourself what times are they posting, who is their most influential follower etc. Whatever they are doing you need to do it better!
Take advantage of all the features. Use hashtags, but most importantly use instagram stories. You cannot fake a story. It is a different way to produce content; it allows you to engage with questions, blogs, surveys and much more. Once people realize you are real and produce authentic content they will follow. Show authenticity in your posts and be engaging so that they continue to watch your feed.
If you’re an influencer or brand looking to turn your followers into dollars contact me for a FREE 45 consultation @Joe_Luckett or email Joe@affluentsolution.com