Influencer Marketing: The Next Big Thing

Influencer Marketing: The Next Big Thing

by Lena Schulz

Webcology takes a deeper look at the ecosystem of the internet as it affects webmasters and web marketers. Host Jim Hedger talks with Apogee Results head of marketing Michelle Stinson Ross about the past, present and future of influencer marketing on Webmaster Radio Live. Tune into the full embedded podcast or check out show highlights below.

What Does Influencer Marketing Mean?

Let’s break it down. First and foremost the average person doesn’t quite have an accurate grasp on what influencer marketing actually means. Any layperson’s first instinct might be to assume that the label is reserved for models on Instagram pushing lifestyle products. However, the concept is about as old as marketing gets, predating Instagram by about 300 years. It is defined as a form of marketing that involves endorsements from people and organizations, usually possessing a high level of knowledge or social influence in their respective fields. At its core, anyone who has cultivated an audience that is relevant to your business could be an influencer for you. Be it a celebrity, a thought leader on Twitter, a journalist, a podcast or even on a smaller scale, micro audiences stemming from organic user-generated content. Even link building can act as PR and is also a part of influencer marketing. Influencers can be anyone, anywhere. Within any industry, there are influential people: it’s up to you to find them.

How Can I Make It Work for Me?

With each field best practices differ so it can be hard to generalize which channels are most effective to push messages through. Michelle recommends for most starting with building up representation on social platforms and then branching out to blogs and long-form content when applicable. As an example, a haircare brand looking to boost shampoo sales would want to pair with people representing their target demographic on Instagram, for example. This is a perfect outlet for a brand wanting to showcase how its users look and feel. With this specific brand, unusual scientific terms and differences in the product required some customer education, which is where blogs and educational articles came into play.

For Influencers

From the influencer side, Michelle says there is still a need for maturity and professionalism that still isn’t quite present in the influencer space. As this channel of marketing matures, influencers need to understand they can no longer craft their rate sheet based solely on how big their audience is and how engaged the followers are. That criteria is the qualifier that brands use to prioritize their choice of influencers. Expect for brands to ask for specific deliverables as part of their contract negotiations.

Influencer deliverables

  • How many posts are made  
  • What kind of posts
  • Level of engagement with brand posts 
  • How often the brand is mentioned
  • Use of hashtags and appropriate tagging
  • Ability to report measurable data back to the business

For Brands 

Don’t get caught up on attempting to look at Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) when it comes to working with influencers, mainly because its difficult to put a direct price point on posts. Overall, social media is very top-of-the-funnel and its main function is to drive awareness. Especially on Instagram, the average user does not necessarily click and buy anything immediately. Efficacy can best be measured by increased brand awareness and audience acquisition, not simply direct sales. It’s more relevant to focus on how much traffic has been driven to specific landing pages, how many people have filled out a form, how big the email list has grown, and how big the cookie and retargeting pools have gotten as a result of working with an influencer. 

Finding the Perfect Fit

The best way to find the right person or group to represent your brand is to full-on scout out potential as if they were a pro athlete. Dive deep, stalk them, and fully assess the pros and cons of partnering with them. Take note on follower genuineness: are the accounts engaging with real accounts or heavily overrun with bots? It’s also a two-way relationship if you get a rejection it doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t a good fit, it may have just been bad timing. Even if you find the perfect arrangement, you need to be prepared in advance for the reputation management aspect of the partnership as you have put a part of your brand identity in the hands of someone else. There is always a risk because you and your brand identity will be linked to that person’s decisions, and that can always go one of two ways in the future. It’s also a two-way relationship. If you get a rejection it doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t a good fit it may have just been a bad time. In the great search planning is everything. Marketing should begin on day one. Seek out people who align with the identity you want to represent and ask yourself what are your business goals and where are you customers. 

If you would like to learn more about how Apogee Results can help you with developing an influencer marketing plan. Request your Influencer Contract Template, fill out the contact form here in the blog post, or get in touch with Michelle Stinson Ross directly via LinkedIn

Lena Schulz is Apogee’s newest Social Media and PPC Full Time Intern. She graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a degree in International Studies and Marketing. She assists our team by providing clients with community social media management, PPC strategy and content writing. In her free time, she loves to work on graphic design, discover new foods and relax by the nearest body of water.

To get updated information about the team at Apogee Results, please follow us on your favorite social media channels.

Facebook Doesn’t Need Your Meme

Facebook Doesn’t Need Your Meme

10 Year Challenge Is Not a Conspiracy

The general public’s lack of tech understanding often takes the fun out of things for me.  The “How Hard Did Aging Hit You” or the 10-Year Challenge is one of those things. Normally, I don’t tend to participate, but as I saw how amazing, healthy and happy many of my friends have continued to look over time, I wanted to join in the fun.

This is the photo comparison that I posted to my personal Facebook account. On the left is my very first Facebook profile picture (yeah, go ahead and laugh) and on the right is my current profile picture. NOTHING I’ve shared here hasn’t already been publicly available. Most of us in the internet and tech industry are hyper aware that when we share something, it’s public. Facebook and all of social media are PUBLIC spaces, not private. So, I conduct my digital self the same way I do my public self. I participated in this photo sharing thing because it was fun and it’s a good reminder of how I’ve changed (mostly for the better) over the years.

But THEN came Kate O’Neil’s article in WIRED.

In the article, O’Neal claims that the purpose of the meme challenge is to get clean data to train the facial recognition AI.

Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you’d want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people’s pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart—say, 10 years….

In other words, it would help if you had a clean, simple, helpfully labeled set of then-and-now photos.

Kate O’Neil from 1/15/19

The argument here is that although Facebook does indeed have all of these photos in the system, people aren’t great at providing consistent data around those photos. Just because we posted a photo on a certain date doesn’t necessarily mean that it was taken on that date. Things like that. Her point is that Facebook’s system benefited from clean data that they didn’t have to sift through.

Then she goes on to discuss issues of privacy and makes the reader feel like we’ve somehow been duped into giving away even more information about ourselves.

First of all Facebook did not need our 10 Year comparisons at all.

This article, written by Sebastian Anthony back in March of 2014 is to my point. And I have to give credit to my colleague Kristine Schachinger for bringing it to my attention.

Facebook tries to impress upon us that verification (matching two images of the same face) isn’t the same as recognition (looking at a new photo and connecting it to the name of an existing user)… but that’s a lie. DeepFace could clearly be used to trawl through every photo on the internet, and link it back to your Facebook profile (assuming your profile contains photos of your face, anyway). already has a facial recognition algorithm in place that analyzes your uploaded photos and prompts you with tags if a match is made. I don’t know the accuracy of the current system, but in my experience it only really works with forward-facing photos, and can produce a lot of false matches. Assuming the DeepFace team can continue to improve accuracy (and there’s no reason they won’t), Facebook may find itself in the possession of some very powerful software indeed.

 for ExtremeTech 3/19/14

This was almost 5 years ago. Our willingness to post and tag people over the years has made DeepFace even more accurate. How do you think that really cool feature that asks if you want to tag your friend in that picture you’re about to post works?

Honestly, I believe there’s so much more to the system’s sophistication.

My mother and daughter gave me full permission to share these Facebook photos with you.

Not only is Facebook already capable of recognizing my face and your face with a high degree of accuracy, but it’s quite capable of predicting how we will age. My mother and daughter are both Facebook users. My familial relationship to both of them is confirmed. I have willingly identified them as my mother and daughter and they each confirmed that relationship independent of any photos of us together. Despite the family resemblance Facebook is 100% in identifying the faces in all of these photos. Facebook has all the data it needs to predict what I will look like in my mid seventies and how my daughter will look when she’s that age. Facebook didn’t need me to compare photos for that.

But there is a bigger point to make here

Facebook is a public space. EVERYTHING you do there is available for the system to use to provide you with a highly engaging and interactive experience.

I used to tell people that the first and best privacy filter is the one between your ears. If you want to keep it private, then you can’t share it. I need to adjust the way I explain this and from now on remind people that the moment it’s shared is the moment it’s no longer private.

Think of it this way:

If you went out for happy hour after work with your colleagues and decided to dance on the bar at the pub, you’re not going to expect them to keep that private and not discuss how much fun you had that evening. Nor could you expect that the incident would be forgotten and would never color their option of you thereafter. You chose to behave that way in a public space. Same goes for social media. You make a choice with every post, every comment, every reaction to do something in public. The only reasonable expectation is that it will be remembered and influence later interactions.

Facebook users actually benefit greatly from this systematic feedback loop. Facebook is able to put the people and events that matter most to you in your news feed so that you don’t have to waste time hunting for it. Facebook is able to facilitate your ability to easily share the delightful moments you’ve had with friends and family. It gives all of us a place to go to discuss news, politics, culture… life with others of all kinds of backgrounds.

If Facebook makes you uncomfortable, you are responsible to leave and not feed the system at all, or consider very carefully how you are going to train it to interact with you.

Michelle Stinson Ross is Apogee’s internal marketing strategist. She is responsible for growing our website, blog, social marketing, industry thought leadership and advertising footprints. She is also a key consultant to the internal team and the clients.

Michelle has written about digital marketing for Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, and Forbes. She is national industry conference speaker for SMX, Pubcon, Digital Summit.

To get updated information about the team at Apogee Results, please follow us on your favorite social media channels.