Rocks Digital 2018 Influencer Marketing Panel
This year we were excited to host a session with an expert panel of social media influencers. The panel discussion was moderated by Cynthia Smoot of OhSoCynthia.com, and the panelist discussion focused on how brands can influence consumers through social media.
Meet the Influencer Marketing Panelists
Leah Frazier – An attorney turned fashion guru with her own fashion blog and the brand ambassador for the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, she heads up the fashion track for Dallas Startup Week and much more!
Nikki Patel – With Strauss PR, some of her projects include grand opening strategy for NYX makeup stores, social media strategy for Mockingbird Station in Dallas and public relations strategy for Fuzzy’s Tacos, just to name a few.
Elayna Fernandez – Known around the world as The Positive MOM. Elayna is an ambassador for mompreneuership and helps moms transform their stories of pain into stories of growth and success.
Social Media Influence Has Nothing to Do With the Number of Followers
The session began with a definition of the two different types of influencers: macro and micro.
- Macro – hundreds to thousands of followers and usually worldwide influence (ex: The Kardashians)
- Micro – 10K to 100K followers
Today the focus was on micro-influencers since most people at the conference are small business owners. But don’t let the number of followers fool you, because one of the biggest misconceptions about influencers is that they must have a large following, confusing influence with popularity. Social media influence for brands means how can you take your personal brand and put your brand message out that is unique to you – and get a good return on investment? It is much more than just the number of followers. Popularity does not equal influence on social media.
Nikki: I have a short story that is a great example of this. I did a meet-and-greet for NYX cosmetics. I brought in an influencer that had millions of followers, but no one showed up to meet her at the event; however, there was another influencer there who had 200K followers and 500 people showed up to talk to her.
Q: When someone says “influencer” what does that mean to you?
Moderator: As people, I think everyone can be an influencer. We can influence someone to buy a product through persuasion versus influence. For example, you can show someone how to do something, but that does not mean you have changed their mind on how they perceive that brand. The basic definition of influence is – a change in thinking and behavior; has the power to change the perception of others.
Q: What do you think is important in picking an influencer for a campaign? How do you go about choosing the right influencer?
Nikki: It’s not really down to a science. What I look at is, does that influencer mimic the brand’s story? For example, the client sends in a person that is happy, upbeat and cute, but if it is for a steakhouse, that’s probably not going to work very well for that brand. Kim Kardashian may not be the right person for a particular brand. You meet a lot of people through various events, and there are people that say they really love a product and would really love to work with a particular brand, but they may not be a good fit for that brand or product.
Leah: I agree with that 100%. When I’m at an event or a fashion show you can have people come up to you that want to work for a brand. Then, you can make a list of which people would be a great spokesperson or ambassador.
Nikki: Don’t be afraid to ask for metrics. Ask for screenshots, although some may not want to reveal their information.
Elayna: Some athletes may not want to share their metrics because it would reveal how much they are paid.
For me, if a brand wants to approach an influencer, there are two different targets. Example: I am vegan, so I wouldn’t post something about meat; however, I home-school. You want to look at my audience. 95% of my audience has school-age children. They need to know my audience and what they are interested in. There are many software tools out there that will let you know what brand keywords are used. Just knowing someone knows my voice and story really helps me feel confident with working with them.
Moderator: That is really nice that they know you home-school.
Elayna: I want to know that the product or brand I promote has the same goal that I have and that they have something to share with the community. They should also have the ability to follow up by clicking here, or whatever.
Nikki – Don’t think about mass emailing 100 influencers. Think about a story, and see if they would be interested in working with you because of that.
Elayna: When you are very passionate, and someone knows that, then it makes you want to really work with them.
Leah: Nine times out 10 I do not mind getting a personal message from someone who wants to work with me, but when I get a generic message, then that is not something that appeals to me. If you tell me that you read one of my posts, or something, that’s different. I will sometimes even check with others to see if they received the same generic email.
Nikki: I get “can you post this stock photo.” Do you repost those types of things?
Leah: I prefer to put my own spin on stuff.
Elayna: Usually the content the client puts out there with their own controls does much worse. The influencers who know how we organically interact with our audience are going to work much better.
Q: If a brand has never worked with an influencer, how would they approach this?
A: Leah: Look at how the influencer is marketing.
Q: Is hashtag marketing a good way to go?
A: A brand needs to consider what do I want the reader to do. What makes an influencer is not how many followers they have, but what kind of influence they have on their audience.
Moderator: Social media was created to enhance offline communications. One of the sad things is that it has made us more isolated. It does seem to be bringing us back to the middle, however.
Q: What are your thoughts on what numbers mean to you?
Nikki: I will look at the conversations that people are having. Is it “Wow!” or just emojis – then you know it is just a bunch of bots – but when you see conversation, that lets you know something is more genuine.
Elayna: I agree. I think numbers are a good entry point – we always want to increase our following – but what I’m always trying to increase the most is the connection. It’s something that I want all influencers to know – that it is all about how you connect to a brand and create that loyalty. Not everybody does that. That’s why I love agencies, because not everyone does their research.
Nikki: Numbers look great, engagement looks great. Why don’t we pay you a base amount? There have been times when we have not seen success.
Elayna: I have never fed formula to any of my babies, but there was a campaign by Infamil. They had a campaign about how women should have a choice in what they want to do with their children. I wanted to work with them because I loved what their campaign’s message stood for. I still let people know that I did not use formula for my children, but that was my choice, and others should have their choice. I want to be an advocate to influencers that it is OK to say no.
Nikki: Embrace your influencer’s craziness, but also spell out what you want to have within the posts.
Top Takeaways for Brands Looking for an Influencer
Our social media influencers wrapped up their session, and session attendees left with a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to finding an influencer to help promote their brand. The two most important takeaways were that number of followers does not equal influence, and know your influencer and their audience before approaching them to promote your brand or product.