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

Three Tips to Reach your Brand Influencers on Twitter

 

Twitter Influencers

Twitter is not only a great channel to consumer news and publish content, but a tool in our marketing arsenal, and most of all a great way to connect with our brand’s audience and influencers in the space.

Being a brand in today’s marketing world – it’s not just about “buying fans” or hoping they’ll swing on by your website. Today we need to strategize about how to develop and cultivate relationships with those that care about our brands and those that will voice those positive opinions to their audiences as well.

Follow and Connect

First and foremost, it’s great if you can follow back those who follow you, mention you, favorite your tweets, and RT your tweets. Those are the people who care enough to be a part of your community without you asking. Follow them back and show them the “love.” Take it a step further and thank them for mentioning you or liking your brand. Those little moments of brand love can go a long way, especially when the audience members don’t expect it.

Be Proactive

Take it a step further and join the conversations that these influencers are already conversing in. Are they asking questions? Answer them with information your brand may be able to help with – and of course don’t forget to use the hashtag being used so other people can follow the conversation too.

Tip: But be careful with this.  Use discretion about which conversations to just join.  If it’s a convo between only two people, it can seem weird and stalker-y to just voice your opinion. Look for conversations that involve several people and offer information without pushing any kind of sales.

To read the last tip on how to reach your influencers, check out my full post on Startup Fashion !

Mobile Strategy for your Small Business

 Small Businesses are realizing that mobile is meant for “today”, not “tomorrow” – and it’s time to get on board before falling behind. Mobile isn’t just about having an app (but it is one option). Being mobile can mean having a mobile site (or responsive design), an app that allows the consumer to interact with the brand, mobile payment options, and/or mobile advertisements. Where should your small business jump in? My advice – ensure you have a mobile site before anything else. Not sure? Consider how many of your target market use smart phones and how often they access your site through their mobile device over their laptop. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you are falling short.

Easier than you Think: Building a mobile site can be as simple as converting your site to a mobile one – which allows your consumers to choose which one they use to view your site when they search for it via mobile. If your brand has a little more resources to commit – my vote is the responsive design. It conforms to whatever device your on immediately.

Ready to take the next step: A mobile app is not for every brand. An app should solve a need. One example would be a utility app or one that allows to shop the store through an app (ex. Amazon) rather than having to go to the site each time with your account.

Mobile Payment: Allowing consumers to pay with a mobile app is a great way to simplify things for a brand and for the consumer. The Small business and charity –Charity Water – does this well. They use Square in order to allow easy credit card payment on iPads, and also allowing consumers to feel secure about their transactions. Charity Water has been doing great things around the world, and being mobile friendly is key for them. They use mobile devices, mobile payment transactions, and social media such as Twitter which is imperative to their awareness and engagement.

Can’t forget Social: As seen by Charity Water, social networks like Twitter which are mainly done via mobile are key to not just awareness, but also promotion, content distribution, and engagement with a brand. Yes it takes resources, effort, strategy, and money – but it is essential to almost any small business.

Ads, Ads, and More Ads: Mobile ads are a whole other ball game and take a large amount of resources. It’s not a few hundred dollars a week like some google adword campaigns, but can cost at minimum 10s of thousands on a monthly basis. It takes a larger commitment, and is usually best after a small business is lucrative or has the backing to do so.

Small business – does not mean small mobile strategy. Small businesses can play like the big boys too.

Image source: http://www.toowaybroadband.co.uk/newsReach/Prepare-mobile-and-tablet-versions-of-websites,-firms-advised_ID_801329603/

Note: this post was originally written for socialnomics and my post can be found here.

Building Community through Storytelling Apps Like Cowbird, YouTube and Tumblr

Many brands today are still figuring out how to tell their story, show the human side of the brand, and connect with their audience on a deeper level than just their products and services. If that isn’t hard enough, there are a myriad of avenues by which to do so…should your brand use Facebook, a blog, YouTube,  Pinterest, none, or all of the above? It’s important for each brand to see where their audience is first, and use the tools that most resonate with their audience and engages them where they prefer to be engaged. However, it doesn’t hurt to try new tools and see if they “fit” the brand’s identity as well as the audience. Test and Learn – great motto.

3 Tools to consider and see if they “fit” and why:

(1) Cowbird - Use photos, text, and/or sound to tell the story of a moment in time, a brand, a product, a service, a person who works there, a consumer, or what have you. Video isn’t available (as of yet), and it’s only a web service (although apparently mobile friendly), but it appears to have a growing community as photos are so easily uploaded and shared. People love to tell “their story” and brands can collaborate with cowbird to tell a “saga” or something more. However there is currently no advertising as they are trying to keep it pure to contributors. Benefit for brands? A community of people who are engrossed in stories and visual content – and ones who will share, and engage with it via “likes” or “re-telling” a story (basically like a re-blog on twitter, which is a high value action on this platform). Also the potential opportunity to partner with Cowbird for feature content.

(2) YouTube: The Archive and the storytelling vehicle that has lasted the test of time. Video like photos are a great tool to tell a brand’s story. It can be used to tell a six second snippet (the “vine” rage) or it can be longer and tell a consumer’s journey, a sneak peek on a product line, the inside scoop on an event, or how and why an employee loves every moment of working for a particular brand. Whatever the video may be – it is a piece of the brand – and it’s story. Not sure how to break into video content? Not sure if you can afford it? Start small; start simple but start with a content strategy on how that video will amplify your current brand’s story and/or revive it from the dead. Did I mention it’s only one of the largest search engine’s on the web? Cough Cough – SEO (huge perk).

Great Example: The Lego Story [Watch The Video]

(3) tumblr - a blogging platform and so much more for brands and consumer alike. From fashion brands like Nordstrom to finance brands like American Express, tumblr has become a place to not just tell a story but allow the consumer to see a different side of the brand; and of course explore and engage with fun, digestible content – from posts to photos to videos and more.

ProTip: when using a platform like tumblr (or your blogging place of choice) always consider the amount of time and amount of content your brand has for both quality and frequency. Your audience will expect fresh, new, engaging content on a consistent basis.

note: this post was originally written for Social Media Club and my original post can be found here.

LinkedIn & How Fashion Brands can take Advantage

So you know about Facebook and Twitter, but there’s more to social then those two players. Some brands forget that LinkedIn is not just a great resource for individuals and their “online resumes” – but also a great network for you to showcase your brand, boast product offerings, highlight team members, initiate collaboration, and more!

Here are 5 Ways Fashion Brands Can Leverage LinkedIn

  • Products and services tab: the perfect place to show off the great things your brand offers. For example: if your brand has 3 to 5 specific offerings, a new offer, or updates – the tab is a great way to link directly, give teasers, and provide a place for consumers to comment. Tip - consider video content on this tab to make your products more engaging and shareable.

  • Cross Promote:  LinkedIn allows brands to cross promote their other social networks such as Twitter feeds but also their blog rss feeds. Fashion brands that have a great content source such as a rich blog with visuals should always find ways to create awareness for their content and in turn engagement with it – whether it’s through the blog itself or through distribution on social networks.

  • Company Updates: LinkedIn offers a great location to update on what’s happening with the company. Does your company have a new CMO or Intern? Give them the spotlight and show how much you appreciate your team.

    To learn about the other 2 helpful ways fashion brands can leverage LinkedIn (or most brands for that matter) – check out my full post on startup fashion.

    Photo source: http://blog.amsterdamprinting.com/2013/03/07/10-excellent-examples-of-linkedin-cover-images-for-brands/030413_apl_blog_images_post2/

How to: be a Fashion & Digital Marketing Expert (Interview: Michelle McCormack)

I had the pleasure of interviewing friend, fellow fashion lover, and digital marketing expert, Michelle McCormackCMO of Fashion Project in Boston, MALet’s take an inside look into what brought her to where she is today…

StUF: What brought you to Fashion Project and FNO?

Michelle: It’s been an organic process of just ‘showing up’ and working every day. I left Hill Holliday in 07 > started LoveTheCool, a digital strategy company back when social media was learning to walk (still is) > early Twitter adopter > started Secret Boston and built a pretty passionate local community > decided to bring FNO to Boston w/ my old Vogue friend and colleague Rich Villani who I worked with in NYC > leveraged Secret Boston and the skills I learned living on the social web for a few years > did agency level work with no money > got noticed by press and have been asked to speak at various conferences > got on the radar of lots of people offering me jobs with Fashion Project being the best fit.

StUF:  What marketing goals and strategies helped you take FNO from an idea to an event, which was so great, it’ll be taking place again this year?

Michelle: I leveraged Facebook like crazy. I started the FNO Boston Facebook page and leveraged Secret Boston to begin building the community. Within a week – one week! – Rue La La called me and asked to sponsor. I then hammered the FNO Boston stream with editorial content – stuff people who are into fashion love. Within that I had little predictable updates that users could look forward to: “Yay or No Way”, “I have a crush on”… etc. There’s so much noise on the web, giving predictable content to users is a relief and gets you noticed. Within all that editorial content I’d slip in FNO promotions, like retailer updates… where I’d post what retailers were planning and tag them. Retailers came to depend on us.

To read the rest of my interview with Michelle and her insightful tips on digital marketing, check out my full interview on the startup fashion blog here

 

How to: Use Twitter to Market Your Fashion Brand

 

 

The top ten things your brand should always consider when starting, strategizing and optimizing your channel strategy for Twitter:

  • Listen: First and foremost your brand should set up a listening station to listen each day to what’s going on the Twittersphere. It’s important to listen not only to what your followers are saying, but also regarding brand mentions industry news, competitive insights, and more.
  • Pick the right Tool: Before a brand can listen properly, it’s helpful to have the right tool to listen simply yet efficiently. A couple quick tools which are free to utilize for listening to one handle areTweetdeck and Hootsuite. Best part about Hootsuite are the analytics if you are willing to spend a little more than free.
  • Utilize Lists; Making and following lists are helpful in listening more easily on Twitter too. For example it may help to have a list made of all your competitions’ handles, the influencers in your category, loyal followers, and industry experts.
  • Capitalize on Hashtags: Hashtags are not only another great listening tool, but they are a great way to interject in a conversation with valuable content. First you can listen to key hashtags in your industry, event hashtags, so on and so forth. Then, you can interject with valuable advice, product info, and/or lead the conversation to your website (if and only if it’s valuable to the conversation at hand).
  • Utilize your Twitter Real Estate: Don’t underestimate the power of your Twitter real estate. It allows for a cool background which can be picturesque and/or should other brand traits such as links to other social channels, websites, etc. Don’t forget the ability to pin tweets in order to have a specific Tweet take priority over others on your Twitter brand page.

Great Example Below:

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion, and you can read the other 5  Twitter Tips on my original post here!

 

Three Examples Why LinkedIn is stronger than Facebook

Facebook may have over 910 million users, but it still has stealthy competitors such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn may not be where most individuals share their photos, check their newsfeed or share their daily status updates — but it is where businesses can flourish, B2B kicks butt through lead generation, and  ”likes” can have more weight.

Businesses Flourish

Facebook is a great place for businesses and fans to share content, but the types of content vary from all different spectrums: from Justin Beiber to brand news to business strategies to the Red Sox to pictures of  cat. In short, business content that is relevant to marketing, B2B, finance, etc may get lost in the clutter that is the Facebook news feed. On the other hand, the content on LinkedIn is largely related to marketing and business, and has a higher chance of being seen on the channel. It is purposefully designed for business-minded folk who want to share relevant content. In addition, it is a great platform for brands to distribute similar content and where many followers will look to find information on a brand, what they offer for a product/service, and the content related to it.

B2B and Lead Generation

So it is evident that LinkedIn is great for business content and businesses. But what else? “David Meerman Scott stated that LinkedIn’s conversion rate is now 2.60 per cent, less than what it was back in January, but this is far greater than its nearest rivals Twitter and Facebook, which has 0.67 per cent and 0.39 per cent respectively.” So what, you ask? In short, LinkedIn has competitive percentages when it comes to B2B lead gen due to the ability to target content, optimize for SEO, focus CTAs and utilize both company page and groups.  In addition, those who are visiting LinkedIn are visiting in order to post, read and/or comment on business content. The leads are prime for the picking.

“Likes” Have More Weight

On LinkedIn, people are more careful on what they post on their site, who they “link” to, and what they like, comment on and/or share. It is a site where people are judged for who they are career-wise. In short, if someone “likes” your post or comments on it or shares it — it holds greater value than it would on Facebook and Twitter where Likes and ReTweets are a dime a dozen normally. A recognition on LinkedIn = how many Likes or ReTweets? That’s still up for debate, but in my opinion, LinkedIn has a bit of a lead.

Last piece of Advice

LinkedIn may be a great place to invest in for businesses and those that are business-minded; but it is also easy to goof up if relevant content is not posted appropriately. Invest time to research first, target your content appropriately and grow your page within the channel over time. It is not an overnight success, but the trick is to maintain quality versus quantity.

Note: I originally wrote this post for Socialnomics – my original post can be found here

Additional Reading

http://thenextweb.com/asia/2012/02/21/growing-faster-than-facebook-linkedin-passes-1-million-members-in-indonesia/

http://writingontheweb.com/2012/02/21/the-pros-of-linkedin-vs-facebook-for-professionals/

http://www.simplyzesty.com/social-media/linkedin-4-times-better-than-facebook-twitter-for-b2b-leads/

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30030/LinkedIn-277-More-Effective-for-Lead-Generation-Than-Facebook-Twitter-New-Data.aspx

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2011/02/16/why-linkedin-is-more-valuable-than-facebook/

http://www.donhalbert.com/10-reasons-why-linkedin-is-better-than-facebook-and-twitter/