This guest blog is from Elle DeFreitas, the co-founder of Wonderkind Co. She has worked on-the-ground at startup food & beverage businesses, as well as with well-established brands like Nadamoo & Snap Kitchen, and now helps wellness food & beverage brands with impactful social media strategy + execution, thoughtful design, and authentic influencer marketing.
As more and more brands have moved to online marketing in response to COVID-19, I decided to put together some tips and tricks on authentic influencer marketing. This is an area that I am extremely passionate about. I have also been on both sides of influencer marketing, so I am excited to share my experiences with you.
First, I want to create a baseline of who is an influencer. An influencer is anyone influencing the purchase of a product. Influencers exist on and offline. People are always talking about their favorite restaurants, CPGs, gyms and products. Whether with friends and family or social media followers, influencing is happening all day every day. So how do we narrow in on influencers who will best promote our product and influence consumers? As someone who works on both sides - as an influencer and as a marketer - here are some tips from my range of experiences:
1. Find the right influencer for your brand
Any brand can find their perfect influencer, it just requires some sleuthing and some brainstorming. When I am creating an influencer campaign, I first need to identify my ideal consumer. I even give this consumer a name. Let’s walk through an example:
Say I am marketing a vitamin enhanced sports drink. My target audience would be on-the-go, athletic, moderately healthy, middle income, on the younger side, busy, and prioritizes her gym time. I am going to name her Sarah.
So now I get curious about Sarah. Who is she following on social media? Who does she look up to and why? I think Sarah looks to a micro-level home fitness gal. Someone who shares Sarah’s busy lifestyle and priority of fitness. She shares her home workouts on her Instagram, and Sarah has been buying into everything this influencer promotes and does. Once I have found this one influencer, I start looking for similar influencers.
Here are some qualifications when I am sleuthing for the right influencer:
- Start with some key characteristics, consider the age, demographic, category and marketing channel of the consumers I am trying to reach.
- Include influencers with a minimum of 3,000 followers
- Search on like branded pages (are they working with influencers that may be good for your brand?), relevant hashtags, other influencers friends and people they are tagging and interacting with, get lost in a rabbit hole!
Now that you have your ideal consumer and an ideal influencer, how do you choose a number of influencers to be a part of your campaign?
2. Choose your campaign model
When deciding how large of an influencer campaign I will be promoting, I always first consider how much product my brand is willing to send out the door. For smaller start-ups, I suggest a minimum of 15 influencers. One model that works great for new product launches, special holiday promotions, or brand launches is a one-time campaign. These are more specific campaigns that are oriented to a specific purpose.
My favorite model, however, is an ongoing partnership campaign. In this campaign, my influencers are receiving products once a month, and are continuing to promote this product on a monthly basis. This recurring partnership shows followers that these influencers are loyal to the brand and are invested in the product.
Now that I have my influencers and my campaign model, it is time to reach out.
3. Communicate with influencers
As an influencer myself, I have learned a lot from being on the receiving end of brands’ campaigns. Through my own experiences, I have found a preferred way to communicate with influencers that has been very successful.
A few key points:
- Address your influencers by name
- Add personal touches to messages
- Initially reach out over DM
I think an Instagram DM is the best place to start for a few reasons. A DM shows your brand has an online presence, you can ask permission to email the influencer and continue the conversation, and now the influencer can be on the lookout for your email. This approach makes it less likely for your email to get lost in the crowd or stuck in junk mail.
Once you are communicating by email, I have found that a graceful, kind and supportive voice has carried me a long way. More support and less asks has led a lot more influencers to work with me. Asks should be subtle such as, “We would love your support on our launch next week”. When the influencer follows up for more specifics, I always aim to let the influencer do what they feel most comfortable with on their accounts. For example, I respond with “Whatever is most natural for you or whatever you feel most comfortable with is totally great for us”. This gives the influencer permission to authentically promote your brand and product. It also allows the influencer to feel a part of the team.
Especially if you are not paying your influencers, it’s probably best not to require a lot from the influencer. Think: a mention in a story, an addition to a recipe, or just a quick mention in an upcoming email if they’re open to it. All asks should be casual and fair. Again, make the influencer feel a part of the team rather than making demands.
4. Ship memorable boxes
Once an influencer says yes and the product has been shipped, I always email my influencers to let them know the product is on the way and that their feedback is important to me.
I believe one of the most important aspects of an influencer campaign is the unboxing experience. I focus on really well branded boxes full of the product, swag (stickers, pins, etc.) and a personalized note. The unboxing experience should be exciting and memorable. An influencer is sent products often, so make your product standout among the rest. Even if I love a product that is sent to me, I can easily forget to post about the product. Let the unboxing experience lead an influencer to be so excited they immediately pull out their phone to snap a picture and add to their Instagram story. Even more, influencers have a well-curated feed, so send them a well-curated box that will fit right in.
Once an influencer has posted about the product, be sure to keep in touch. Especially if you are creating an ongoing campaign. Ask the influencer if they are ready for more product, if they have any feedback, etc.
5. Notice your ROI
Let’s be honest. I find working with influencers to be fun, but I am also looking for the Return on Investment. I find influencer campaigns to be extremely successful in the promotion of a brand. Here are my top 3 reasons why I find influencer marketing to work well:
- Influencers generate relatable, organic content. User Generated Content (UGC) has a 4.5% higher conversion rate than any other type of content. Your average consumer is going to respond well to UGC because of the relatable aspect. The consumer can see themselves using the product as well. Back to our case study, Sarah wants to see herself relating to the influencer. The influencer’s organic content will help her do that.
- When influencers are sharing, they inspire exponential sharing. A ripple effect occurs. Consumers want to be like the influencers they follow, so if their favorite influencer is posting about a product, the consumer is likely to post about it, too.
- Influencers are supporting conversion. This is trackable in purchasing and followers. You can follow the data from the day your influencers start posting and watch the growth of purchases and followers on your account. You can also track sales by providing influencers with unique codes they can share with their followers. This can be set up via Shopify (if that’s your web provider) or ShareASale.
At the bare minimum, engagement with your brand will increase visibly on instagram. I have seen it every time I have created an influencer campaign. The best campaigns I have led have been those where the influencers feel a loyalty and investment in the brand. Their authentic and trustworthy content leads more and more consumers to invest in the brand as well.
Overall, authentic influencer marketing is a game changer for brands. Try investing some of your marketing budget into influencer marketing next month and track your ROI. I totally believe in the power of influencers, and after one campaign, I think you will, too.
Thanks for reading today. Have further questions? Great! Feel free to DM Elle's personal account @eatingwelle or my content marketing and design studio @wonderkindco. She is so passionate about CPGs and building brands. If you are a brand looking for some insight, check out Wonderkind’s website. She loves connecting with new people, so even if you just want to say hi, please reach out! Hope to talk to you soon :)