Brands that leave an Impression

My surprise from Peloton and Emma Lovewell

Having worked at agencies and currently on the brand side in marketing, I know how much brands care for their audience, their consumers, and their loyalists. On the flip side, being a consumer, I’ve had the opportunity to feel the love from some brands that have truly left an impression on me. Those are the brands I won’t forget so easily, and will be even more loyal to (or a new loyalist) because of how they appreciate and treat their consumers.

I encountered brands like Banana Republic who sent me gift cards just by choosing true fans off of social media to surprise and delight with rewards. It was unexpected and a great chance to get consumers to come back in the store and remember how much they loved their products.

Nordstrom, reached out with a personal shopper, and provided a guided experience with items that were specific to my taste based on my previous shopping behavior. It was curated just for me in a special and unique way.

Amex has always had amazing customer service. Anytime I ever had even the smallest of issues, they were able to resolve it right away and/or did their best to get to the bottom of the issue with little strain to me. That is clutch with such little time in our lives to be on the phone with customer service.

Mostly recently, I had an experience with Peloton, which was beyond remarkable. To caveat, I am a peloton enthusiast, who rides her bike on the regular, and posts about the brand and my dedication to my health and wellness. I also promote their content, products, and share content about their instructors who I admire and inspire me to be better each day. My favorite being, Emma Lovewell, who has a way of making me smile and excited every time I work out. Well…Peloton reached out to me and selected me to do an appreciation video/photo shoot for Emma to surprise her. They picked me up, brought me to the studio, and everything. To be chosen to surprise my favorite instructor was an honor to say the least.

Now here’s the clincher….the surprise was really for me (and the other honored peloton members who were invited). Emma was there and surprised me on set, in the middle of my video interview. She even brought out a cake for my bday (which was later that week). It was probably one of the coolest moments of my life, outside of maybe meeting Brad Pitt (still waiting on that one).

When brands take a moment and think through what will our customers appreciate beyond the product or service…that’s when they make an impact. When they think about what can we do to show our customers how special they are, that’s when they make an impact. Whether it’s a curated experience, great customer service, a surprise gift card, or an experience in person… small or big, they are all memorable and impactful.

The Rise of the Content Platform Wattpad

 

Why does Wattpad matter?

Let’s start with the stats, because they’re pretty huge (according to wattpad.com):

  • Audience: 90M+
  • Avg Eng Time Per Day: 52 Minutes
  • MIn Per Month: 23B
  • Audience: 80% Gen Z

These aren’t just users, they’re “hyper-engaged” users who not only consume content, but contribute by writing said content too. They’re involved. They want to consume content that isn’t the norm and allows for a new way of engaging with like-minded individuals (and now brands too).

Why should brands care? Well some are already here, and production companies are ahead of the fold by getting partnerships with Wattpad to bring these stories to life through other mediums including video on Netflix and more.

Other brands and studios are allowing Wattpad users to submit their stories to allow them to create a film using their content. These are new unique opportunities to allow a target, potentially less tapped audience, to be apart of the content creation mix. They aren’t just consuming, they are engaging, creating, and being apart of the beginning of a story. A story your brand can tell, with the audience.

Some used to called it the YouTube for writers/stories. But it’s become so much more.

Here’s a cool example with how Netflix got involved and how Lionsgate created a consumer contest for creation … and it appears it’s only the beginning.

Where will Wattpad go next? Maybe your brand can help steer that.

 

Your Checklist for Working with Influencers to Grow Your Fashion Brand

fashion brand influencers

Influencers is a word that seems to be used all too often. At it’s most basic, it is a word that defines a celebrity, journalist, advocate, social media “star”, or anyone who’s thoughts and opinions have a strong impact on the people who follow them.

Working with influencers to grow awareness of your fashion brand can be a great strategy. But first, you have to identify them.

The biggest thing to remember is that it isn’t just the number of followers a person has that characterizes them as an influencer. It’s typically that they are an expert in a subject matter in some capacity.

Whether you’re a startup or an established brand, it’s important to have some set parameters when working with influencers for a program. This helps to avoid issues when it comes to relevance and authenticity of content and ensuring the brand and influencer will work well together.

Here’s Your Checklist for Working with Influencers to Grow Your Fashion Brand

  1. Start with a lot of research: Check their background, check their current posts. What are they saying, how are they saying it? Do they engage with their following or do they delete comments they don’t like? Do they have an email signup on their website– then sign up. Are they on the platforms that you have seen the most traction for your brand? How often do they post? You cannot do too much research.
  2. Make sure they are on-brand: Do they have the same vibe as your brand? Is their tone complementary to yours? How do they communicate?
  3. They are still using their voice: While it’s important that their tone is complementary to yours, you also want to make sure that they still have their own voice. You want to make sure that don’t ever compromise their own brand in order to make money.
  4. Who are they working with already: Check to see that the influencer isn’t working with your direct competitors recently (at least in the last year).
  5. Are they too obvious: Meaning, often, once an influencer becomes more famous he/she may start saturating their content creation with sponsored stuff. When this happens, they often lose the respect of their following. So it’s good to check if they are still doing original content and sponsored posts are not their primary source of content.
  6. Give ideas: Some influencers (especially celebrities) may be great at what they do, but not so great at coming up with ideas for sponsored content. Don’t be afraid to give them a nudge towards what they could do, so when they create an Instagram post, it doesn’t seem like a blatant ad.
  7. Lay out the terms: Be sure you have stated everything that you want done in the collaboration upfront, including the number of social media posts per channel. How many blog posts you get, whether you’re included in any emails, etc. Also make sure that your brand can utilize their name and the content they create throughout owned, earned, and paid media. Don’t make any assumptions.

The last thing your brand wants is to be associated with sponsored content that isn’t original and valuable. So take the time and follow the list.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

How to Avoid: The Pitfalls of Influencer Marketing

Note: This post was originally written for iMedia Connection.

In many ways, influencer marketing is still a shiny object for brands and marketers. It can mean more eyeballs on your content, more engagement with your brand, and ideally, the conversion of viewers/readers into advocates and loyal customers. But that’s only if it’s done right.

You could score the best brand fit out there, and the most renowned name for your particular campaign. You could check off every box on your targeting and distribution strategy. But there’s one crucial, mistaken assumption that much of our industry is still making: your influencer may be great at his or her day job — but do they know how to tell a story with your brand’s product or service?

Not necessarily. For all the planning that brands and agencies do, the true checklist involves one main asset: relevant stories.

Influencers should be contextual marketers

Let’s say that your influencer of choice is an actress. She has a large audience who follows her from every step on the street to each post on Instagram. Her fans are excited to see and live through her experiences. They’re enchanted by her vacations, the outfits she wears — how she is the way she is. Then one Tuesday, the audiences check their Instagram feeds to find a random product snapshot of some everyday item. It has no context, no rhyme or reason to be in her feed. And it’s a blatant advertisement rather than being relevant to her regular content, persona, and audience.

Our job as marketers is to ensure that the talent that we work with understands how to be contextual marketers. The products that they promote should become a part of their experiences — not just a snapshot of soap or orange juice on a counter. Ultimately, no matter how popular your influencer is otherwise, when fans feel like they’re just being fed ads in their feeds, they lash out — both against the talent and the brand. Both sides risk alienating fans and losing credibility. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Instead, brands should work with these partners to dig deeper; to help create a relevant storyline around their products and services. One of my favorite examples is when Aimee Song, also known as Song of Style to the fashion obsessed, partnered with 7 for All Mankind. The brand sent her on a trip to Catalina Island, where she blogged about styling the brand’s denim through her adventures, and shared pictures across her social channels. It was authentic because she showed why she paired certain outfits together, and during what occasions. The product(s) were a part of her experiences, not just a random post, or promotional tweet.

This partnership also felt natural because there seemed to be a clear understanding of Aimee’s audience. Marketers can’t help influencers create truly relevant stories unless they understand their community. Does their audience engage more with experience storylines? Would they be responsive to instructional content (i.e., showing them how to use a specific product or service, and the benefits of it)? And hopefully you’ll have done your homework on this question before signing any contracts, but will exposure to their audience benefit your brand? If it’s a community that’s not in your target market and won’t help any of your marketing goals, find someone else who will.

Ultimately, when done well, influencer marketing has the power to yield timely, compelling content to a fandom that’s eager to engage. Take the time and do the work upfront with your talent to ensure a great experience for them, your brand, and the audience. With the exception of some seasoned pros, simply asking them to tweet or post about your product will get you nowhere — and even with the former, you still need to make sure that you’re in alignment. If done correctly, not only will the audience respond, but you may just turn said influencer into a long-term brand champion.

Image source: Instagram 

Monetizing your Brand through Storytelling App Instagram

Instagram is a fun, visual, and engaging channel for brands, influencers, and consumers. People love posting photos of their meals, outfits, pets, vacations, so on and so forth.Brands can take advantage of Instagram by focusing on people’s passion points and what evokes emotion from them each day. For example fashion brands can easily upload photos of their upcoming lines, models wearing their latest and greatest, influencers wearing their exclusive garb on their vacations, etc.

So you get followers, got it. You get likes and comments. Awesome. But what about selling your products? You can do that too – really. Instagram has become another avenue for referral traffic to your brand site, consumer products, and direct purchase.

3 ways to monetize your brand through Instagram:

Keep it Simple: Sometimes it’s easier just to provide a link to your blog and/or product link for consumers to find the item they want with one action. Why make it harder through re-directing a few different times. Tip – you cannot actually “click” on the link. Someone will have to re-enter the link on their browser. But for now, it will do. Instagram, are you listening?

Brand Example: Nordstrom – They do a great job of giving you the item reference # so you can find the exact item on their site with less searching. Great way to get around the current roadblock.

 

Use Influencers: There is a plethora of instagram influencers who are probably already posting your products or like-minded photos. For example bloggers like Daniela Ramirez or better known as @nanysklozet on Instagram is constantly posting about what she wears, how she wears it, and what’s in her “klozet.” It gives her followers ideas on what brands are great to purchase from and why it rocks. She will post links to the items on her blog, so she’s creating referral traffic for the brands not only from her instagram account through branded hashtags, but also through her style blog. Double the score.

There’s an App for That: The tough thing  as mentioned above, is when you provide a link, no one can click through the app currently. However there are workarounds such asLike To Know It  which allows influencers to post a direct link for purchase of the item they’re promoting. Additionally, it allows consumers to find that specific item without hunting, and/or similar products to what they saw on the app. For example, perhaps that pair of shoes was a tad too pricey, maybe there’s a more attainable pair you can purchase with the same look. Why is an app like this important for both influencers and brands? Because it’s a direct path to purchase for consumers who want what the influencers have. They want it right then and there. So let them have it at their fingertips.

Infuencer Example: Aimee Song (@Songofstyle) uses Like to Know it!

Alternatively, if Like to Know It is too complicated with Reward Style (invite-only) registration, services like Soldsie and Chirpify allow for quick and instant transactions through the comments feed (utilizing action words and hashtags).

Bonus Tip – If you only post the photo and no way for them to find out about how to get it, they’ll lose interest in the brand (especially if the brand doesn’t respond). Provide a relevant brand hashtag, a link to the item they are coveting, and/or tease them until it’s available. Sneak peeks are a great way to entice a frenzy at launch. Just look at SJP Collection as an example with their exclusive launch through Nordstrom.

 

Questions on how to use instagram for your brand? Reach out in the comments below!

This post was originally written for Socialnomics and can also be found here.

Photo Creds:

http://instagram.com/nordstrom
http://instagram.com/nanysklozet
http://instagram.com/songofstyle
http://instagram.com/sjpcollection
http://liketoknow.it/

Influencer Marketing: Avoid These 5 Brand Mistakes

“Influencer Marketing” – the latest buzz phrase in the marketing sphere – but is your brand doing it right? There are multiple pitfalls, which are easy to miss even if they’re right in front of you. So instead of running towards the finish line, tread carefully and strategically for your brand’s benefit and ensure you have chosen the right influencer with the right tone, brand fit, and appropriate audience.

Avoid these pitfalls along the way:

1. Not understanding the definition of an Influencer

First and foremost, what is an influencer? The word means different things to different people and brands, and rightly so. There are different types of influencers, and your brand needs to decide which ones are right for their brand messaging, their target audience, and the unified effort. For example, celebrities are considered influencers due to their large following on social channels and otherwise. And then you have experts, journalists, personal branders, and topic authorities. So which one is right for your brand and your campaign – #2 should help with that.

2. Forgetting to put together an Influencer Strategy

An influencer strategy, like a social media strategy, channel strategy, and/or content strategy — is significant because it allows a brand to determine which influencers are right for the brand, how they will be reached out to, how they will be worked with, and what the goals and learnings will be from the program overall. Without this, you are just tweeting to random people and pulling at straws and may turn up with the short one. And no brand wants that.

3. Missing the brand fit

When you evaluate your list of influencers it’s important to ensure that the ones you’re considering are not opposed to the brand in any way. For example, it would be poor form to choose an influencer which may have spoken badly of the brand, a product of the brand, and/or some partnership/program that the brand was involved in. Additionally, it’s important that the influencer(s) fits the brand image in a way that isn’t too controversial (unless that’s what the brand is hoping for). For example, if the brand’s image is about being conservative, eco-friendly, and about local efforts, than it may help if the influencer has similarities in those areas or strengths that will help influence those areas as well.

4. Only using tools to find an influencer

This is a huge error that can cause the wrong influencer to be chosen. Although there are many tools out there that will help one get a list of influencers that may fit the brand/campaign, the human touch is still necessary. For example, 10 awesome influencers may be brought down from an initial list of 100 or more, which helps with efficiency and time to get down to the ones that mater and could have an impact for the brand. However, it’s important to look back into the person’s history (especially regarding #3 above), check to see the conversation that the person is having on their social channels, and ensure that the tool was accurate in its assessment. For instance, is the audience of that influencer one that matters to the brand? If not their influence is less likely to make an impact and bring awareness, engagement, and/or positive sentiment towards the brand as it had hoped.

5. Lack of authenticity

Since he or she is an influencer, they’re obviously authentic, right? Not, necessarily. For example, if an influencer is being poked by a brand a second, he or she may be writing sponsored content on a regular basis. Then where’s the original content, the content that matters to their audience. It’s important that the influencer has a balance of content that is still their own because without their own, personal, un-biased opinion, the authenticity is lost, and their influence is less valuable.

Looking for more input to ensure your influencer marketing starts off on the right foot? Reach out in the comments below!

This post was originally written for Socialnomics